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Teaching Truth, Hope, and Creativity: How the Arts Can Deepen Curriculum

September 18, 2022

Learning Opportunity for Maine Teachers

Maine Educator Professional Development Opportunity

Thomas College, Waterville

Saturday, Nov. 5, 8:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

REGISTRATION

You’re invited to join us to explore ways to use the arts to connect curriculum silos and make challenging content accessible. This will be a unique opportunity to learn with and from Maine artists and educators. Robert Shetterly, a Maine artist and activist, will inspire us as he unveils his portrait of Representative Rachel Talbot Ross. Educators will have the opportunity to engage with a panel of Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) portrait subjects as they discuss the issues that inspire their life’s courageous work, activism, and imagination. Teachers who have used the curriculum lessons from AWTT in their classes, or are familiar with other ways to integrate social justice into curriculum, will offer interactive workshops. In addition, there will be time to share ideas and build your network with Maine educators.

For those who have not seen the documentary Truth Tellers or wish to see it a second time, the documentary film chronicling the lives of courageous Americans fighting for racial equity, climate justice and indigenous rights through the eyes of Robert Shetterly, a long time activist and artist, will be shown on Sat.,Nov. 5, at 8 a.m, before the official start of the conference. All of those registered for the conference will also receive a link to view the film the night before the conference if they choose. Those who register for the conference by October 18 will receive a free copy of either Portraits of Racial Justice or Portraits of Earth Justice at the event, the latest books from Americans Who Tell the Truth. 

REGISTRATION

For any questions, email macdok235@gmail.com

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9/11

September 11, 2022

Let us pause and remember

A few evil people acted that day, 21 years ago, but millions acted out of bravery and kindness and showed the world that goodness can overpower evil. I was in my art classroom the morning of 9/11 when the news came through. I was horrified and was reminded that not all of us do what is right for other human beings.

I watch this video each year on this date to remind me of the importance of compassion and not to be so only when there is a tragedy but everyday. The challenges that people experience throughout our world must be combatted with a little kindness to each other.

There were many stories of bravery that day but I am forever moved by the community of boat owners and captains who put others first and their acts made a difference! Everyone who participated in the search and rescue operation on 9/11 and the days following is a true hero. Never Forget the lives lost on this tragic day or the heroes that emerged from it.

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Teachers Representatives

August 25, 2022

Finalists for Maine Teacher of the Year

Four Maine teachers were announced today as the State Finalists for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year program. Eighth grade social studies and English Language Arts teacher Heather Anderson from Aroostook County, ninth grade humanities and social studies teacher Matthew Bernstein from Cumberland County, fourth grade math, writing, and science teacher Ashley Bryant from Oxford County, and high school social studies teacher Emily Albee from Penobscot County were all selected to move forward in the Teacher of the Year process and were chosen from the 2022 Maine County Teachers of the Year.

These teachers are representatives of all that is ‘right’ with education these days. They’re not ‘the best’ teachers but instead they are teachers who represent all teachers. If you’re fortunate enough to be a teacher you can be proud that their voices are strong and articulate. I had the opportunity in July to be at UMaine when the eight semi-finalists made presentations. They spoke with clarity while sharing their beliefs and passion for teaching.

We’re fortunate in Maine that the process for determining the teacher of the year is well thought out and has changed over the years to select a teacher who best represents all Maine teachers. When I look back I am impressed with how the program has evolved. In the present environment of education I’m sure that we can all agree that the program needs to change in order to represent the education profession.

County teachers of the year who were considered for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year who teach one of the arts: from Androscoggin County visual art teacher Kelsey Boucher, from Hancock County music teacher Rebecca Edmondson, and from Somerset County theatre teacher Debra Susi.

Maine’s Teacher of the Year is a program of Educate Maine. You can learn more at their website at https://www.mainetoy.org. The program has many sponsors.

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Pride in Educators

August 16, 2022

Much to be proud about!

Debra and Rebecca

Arts educators need to, and do, advocate for Arts Education in many different ways. Hopefully, at the end of the day, the advocacy efforts change the access and equity to high quality Visual and/or Performing Arts Education for all students. Advocacy can heighten awareness of the ‘why’ of Arts Education. Efforts may relate to curriculum or assessment or scheduling or numerous other topics that impact an education in the arts. Sometimes we need to seek opportunities and sometimes we’re forced to advocate. And, other times an opportunity unfolds in front of us. Like the time I was on a 2 hours flight sitting next to my superintendent. I had the ear of the person who could make a huge difference in the arts education program. You betcha, I took advantage of the chance to have a conversation that included promoting arts education.

Two amazing arts educators recently had the opportunity to present about their programs. One a theatre teacher, the other, a music teacher. They had an audience that was filled with not only educators, Pre-K through higher education, but people from the business sector as well. I sat in the audience listening to them and chills ran up my arm and I could feel the pride fill my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I often think about how fortunate so many learners are for excellent arts education programs. It takes all of us to bring this magic to schools and school districts but without outstanding and qualified teachers in classrooms, goals fall short.

Congratulations to Rebecca Edmondson and Debra Susi for using your voices and representing all that is ‘right’ and ‘good’ about education. Rebecca is the K-6 classroom music teacher at Conners-Emerson School in Bar Harbor and the 2022 Hancock County Teacher of the Year and Debra is the theatre teacher at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield and the 2022 Somerset County Teacher of the Year. I am so proud and grateful for what each teacher is doing to represent all Maine arts educators. Both were selected as semi finalists for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year.

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Visual Art Educator Kelsey Boucher

August 8, 2022

Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year

Please join me in congratulating Visual Art Educator Kelsey Boucher who is the 2022 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year. Kelsey teaches grades K-6 at Connors Elementary School in Lewiston. Her love of art was encouraged and supported by her own art teachers. “I love teaching art because art is its own language. Our school is home to a variety of spoken languages but when they come into my room, the art speaks for itself.”

CONGRATULATIONS KELSEY BOUCHER

Tell us your story, what led you to this moment Kelsey?

Throughout my school years, I always loved art class. I had really enthusiastic art teachers throughout elementary school who provided a variety of opportunities to create. My middle school and high school art teachers really provided interesting art projects and kept my interest. I took every art class possible. When I went to college at the University of Vermont, I went in undecided. A friend of mine had been taking art courses and I wanted to try my hand at the college level. While in college, I babysat to make some extra money and everything kind of just started to make sense. I loved kids and I loved art.  I decided to transfer to USM where the Art Education just seemed perfect for me. I student taught at Raymond A. Geiger Elementary in Lewiston and Brunswick High School in Brunswick. I landed a part time art teaching position at Martel Elementary School in Lewiston, which ended up turning into full time. I did 6 years of “art on a cart” between Martel Elementary School, Longley Elementary School, and some time at Farwell Elementary School. In 2019, Martel and Longley combined into a new building, now Connors Elementary School.

What is your present teaching assignment?

This year will be at Connors Elementary School in Lewiston, teaching 37 classes in a 6 day rotating schedule. This will be my 4th year at Connors, but 10th year in the Lewiston School District. I was born and raised in Lewiston and I can’t see myself teaching anywhere else. 

What do you love about teaching? What are you biggest challenges?

I love teaching art because art is its own language. Our school is home to a variety of spoken languages but when they come into my room, the art speaks for itself. The seeing, creating, hands on nature of art and the climate of my room allows for success and the creativity to flow. Right now the biggest challenge is the buy in once I get students hooked, it’s smooth sailing. Other big challenges are beyond our control. Things like home life, poverty, the nature of life right now (i.e. Covid times), trauma, etc. 

Tell the blog readers about the Teacher of the Year process, what’s it been like?

The process has been really eye opening. When somebody nominates you in the first place, you feel finally really seen and appreciated. It’s a tough time for teachers right now, but just the nomination really boosted my attitude and helped affirm my “why”. After that, the application process was extremely reflective. As teachers, we constantly reflect on lessons and activities in our room but rarely have time to reflect on our philosophies of teaching, our values, ours beliefs in the classrooms. This process really grounded me in my work and in my beliefs. In writing my essays and even answering interview questions, the reflective nature of it all really helped me be myself and stay true to who I am. When I finally got the call from the program director, I was elated and overwhelmed, in the best way possible. My colleague and friend, Nes Griffin (who is 2017 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year), has been my rock through this process, and when I won she was my biggest cheerleader. Nes, along with administration, orchestrated the most amazing parade through my school where all of my students cheered for me. 

I finally got to meet with my cohort (the other county teachers of the year) and spend time working with them. All I can say is WOW! Maine has some AMAZING educators. I feel so lucky and empowered to be part of the 2022 cohort.

Whose classroom have you visited that really impressed you and what were the pieces that stand out most to you? What did you learn from that experience? 

Nes Griffin, teaches grade 4 at Connors, has been a true mentor. I am lucky enough to be co-advisors of the civil rights team at our school with Nes and the way she affirms student identity in every aspect of education has been the biggest, most important thing I’ve learned from her. That one key piece has changed who I am as a teacher. 

Share a story of something you’ve learned from your student(s) that has impacted your teaching.

My time as the civil rights team co-advisor has transformed my outlook completely as a teacher. I’m lucky enough to teach the entire school, so getting to spend time with students on the civil rights team allows the student leaders and I to gain a different understanding for each other. As we started to do a lot of work on the civil rights team, I started to see their artwork change and become more personal. Kids starting adding more social justice flare to their art and add personal touches that they hadn’t previously. This further amplified the importance of affirming student identity in all aspects of school.

You’ve had professional development in communicating with the press since you’ve been selected as the Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year. What did you learn that is good advice for all teachers in communicating about the importance of your role as a teacher?

The media professional development was so eye opening for me. There is so much more to doing interviews than just speaking. We learned a lot about sound bites and how important it is to stick to your sound bite. It helps you nail down what your message is and allows you to stay focused on that. This is really helpful for what I do because art is so much more then something pretty to look at. For some students, it is their pathway to learning, for some it is their outlet, for others it is their way to use their voice and make a change. 

What advice do you have for new teachers?

My message for new teachers would be to put a lot of priority on getting to know your students and build a relationship with every single one of them. Relationships and affirming students’ identities are the key to everything else and once that is established, the lessons, the planning, and your time together will be more successful and enjoyable. 

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Truth Tellers

August 5, 2022

Fabulous opportunity

As you jump back into a new school year, below is information on two excellent opportunities planned for Maine educators. Please share with your colleagues. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me at meartsed@gmail.com. Thanks ~ Argy

REGISTRATION LINK FOR VIEWING THE FILM

https://forms.gle/JJ371GkatKcSV7Nj8

AMERICANS WHO TELL THE TRUTH PRESENTS

REGISTRATION LINK FOR VIEWING THE FILM

https://forms.gle/JJ371GkatKcSV7Nj8

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Joyful Music

August 2, 2022

South African school marimba band – Vivaldi

The joy on the students faces and the energy put forth, warmed my heart. I watched this several times, I hope you enjoy!

If for some reason you don’t see the video below, please click “Like” which will allow the video to pop up.

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Critical Thinking

July 26, 2022

Resource

This resource came across in my email recently. Even though the source is not specifically an organization focused on education I think it might be useful in planning lessons/units for teachers/students.

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Music Educator Rebecca Edmondson

July 19, 2022

Hancock County Teacher of the Year

Please join me in congratulating Music Educator Rebecca Edmondson who is the 2022 Hancock County Teacher of the Year. Rebecca teaches at Conners Emerson School in Bar Harbor. Next week, Rebecca will join her colleagues, who along with her, have been named Semi-Finalist for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year. All 8 Semi-Finalists will be providing a presentation which is the next step in the process. Below is Rebecca’s story that will provide her history and her journey to this point in her life. The writing is her own, I’m sure you’ll hear Rebecca’s voice. Her commitment to education, her students, and the community of Bar Harbor is commendable!

CONGRATULATIONS Rebecca Edmondson

Tell us your story, what led you to this moment Rebecca?

Teaching was a way of life in my home. My grandmother, mother, and numerous cousins were teachers or administrators. They shared stories that provided warm and delightful chatter at the supper table. It got my attention! At that point, I began dreaming of becoming a teacher.

It was my mother who impacted my decision on becoming a music teacher. She taught music for twenty-eight years and we always had instruments laying around our home just waiting to be played. 

Edmondson piping at the Town Pier in Bar Harbor to welcome the Queen Elizabeth II on her maiden voyage.

During my high school years, I wanted a taste of teaching so I gave private music lessons to beginners. That was it! I knew that I wanted to continue to have a positive impact on young learners. From then on, I devote my life to teaching. Teaching comes naturally. Music is my life. Teaching music is my forte! 

My music education began at age five with learning the piano because I wanted to be just like my older sister so I begged my mother for lessons! Mrs. Frisk was our piano teacher and prepared us both for college auditions. She had even taught my mother when she was young! In her younger years, she played for silent films and I thought that was really cool.  

Edmondson at piano for community production of “Clue,” literally playing the part of Professor Plum, the murderer at the piano, at The Grand Theater in Ellsworth.

In fifth grade, I discovered the oboe and loved it! A few years later, I began private lessons from Dr. Dicicco at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I always studied under the best instructors and was classically trained. During my teen years, folk music and instruments captured my heart and I was compelled to play the Great Highland Bagpipes! I spent summers on the shores of the St.Lawrence Seaway with a hundred other pipers, receiving instruction from world class pipers Seumas MacNeil, Angus MacLellan, and Iain MacFadyen from Scotland. These inspiring teachers will always have a special place in my heart.

During my high school years, on Saturdays, I traveled over the mountain to play oboe in the Johnstown Youth Symphony and on Sundays I ventured into the big city to pipe in the Pittsburgh Scots Pipe Band. It was the best of both worlds – classical and folk!

Several of Rebecca’s Conners Conners Elementary School violin students

My formal education includes earning my Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). I expanded my education and earned my Elementary Education Certification from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and from there, I was placed as a program Reading Specialist Graduate Assistant back at IUP when suddenly I received a call for a music teaching interview and was hired on the spot. So many opportunities presented themselves in that year and shortly after my teaching career began, I married Bill and in the next few years our children were born. Life was good!

Then one day, Bill said that it was time to make the move to Maine that he had been dreaming of for years. I cried. I had a beautiful home, loving children, and my dream job. I did not want to move, especially 800 miles away, however, I put on a happy face and packed us up. Upon moving to Maine my current teaching position became available and we built our home on the beautiful Mount Desert Island! I have been enjoying a wonderful life near Acadia National Park and a successful teaching career at the Conners Emerson School since 1990! Life was good again. 

Fifth grade dulcimers created by students

My education continued, earning my Master of Music in Music Education degree from the University of Maine at Orono. I continue to enjoy learning new music and instruments. Harp and accordion are my newest additions! Teaching and music has created opportunities to bond friendships that endure to this day and I love to perform for community events. It brings a smile to my face when I fondly remember my Dad saying, “With all of those classical lessons that I drove you to, what do you prefer? Bagpipes and tin whistle!”

I truly feel that every facet of my teaching and life experiences with music in the community has pointed me in the direction of becoming the 2022 Hancock County Teacher of the Year. Thirty five years of teaching has given me ample time to live my dreams and achieve my goals.

Conners Emerson Show Choir

What is your present teaching assignment – how long have you been there?

My husband Bill, our children Bethany and Ethan, and I moved to Bar Harbor in 1989. We found a piece of wooded land overlooking Echo Lake and built our home. I took a year to earn my Maine Teaching Certificate and be home with my children. The following year, my current music position became available! It was meant to be! I have enjoyed inspiring thousands of children and involving their parents since 1990! 

At Conners Emerson School (CES), I teach K-6 general music classes, consisting of programs that I have initiated; second grade class violin, third grade tin whistle and xylophone, fourth grade ukuleles and acting to the classics, fifth grade dulcimer constructing and playing, sixth grade keyboard class, third through eighth grade string lessons and two orchestras. My fiddle group, the Swallowtail Fiddlers, provides a creative and traditional approach to learning tunes and this group serves as musical ambassadors from CES providing community service and delighting audiences of all ages. Every class sings and dances as well and the icing on the cake is the show choir where it all comes together! 

Image of an original song that Rebecca composed for my students

What do you love about teaching? What are your biggest challenges?

One of the most rewarding experiences that a teacher can experience is the creation of a new program. A quarter note is always a quarter note, however, there are so many different songs to sing and tunes to play that every year, even though the curriculum remains the same, I have the flexibility in choosing new music that the students and I are interested in and form new ensembles. I rarely have repeated music during my past 35 years of teaching. Also, if I am unable to find just the right music for my students, I compose something for them! It makes them feel so special.

Schools have locked their doors to community connections for the past two years due to COVID. My advocacy is building community; bringing the community into the school for inspiration and taking our school students into the community to serve. This generational aspect in reciprocity creates a circle of mentoring, which renews with every passing generation for my school and community. Parents of the primary grade students have not set foot inside our schools. Now is the time to reconnect and rebuild our school and community collaborations to inspire our young people to become responsible future leaders and policy makers! 

2018 Hancock County Teacher of the Year Jennifer Farnham with a student clarinetist, demonstrating a circle of mentoring. They first performed together in my community orchestra that I founded, TEMPO: The Eastern Maine Pops Orchestra, and continue to play alongside each other in the Bangor Band!
Photo that appeared in a YWCA calendar, empowering community women

Tell the blog readers about the Teacher of the Year process, what’s it been like?

The Teacher of the Year process has been one of reflection, self evaluation, and networking. I have enjoyed reflecting on my past accomplishments when writing the essays. Self evaluation gives me pause to fondly recall community music and performance events that I had forgotten about because my mind is always looking towards the next thing! The networking with my county cohort, Maine TOTY cohort, and Educate Maine gives a teacher a big picture of what we as TOTY can do to, well, educate Maine!  

Those involved in Educate Maine have prepared the TOTY candidates every step of the way for success. The Professional Development that I have participated in, through TOTY, has been very beneficial, educational, and fun. Because of it, I have grown as a teacher and person. 

 Sponsor Lee Auto reminded Rebecca of the time when her Swallowtail Fiddlers performed at the Seal Cove Auto Museum

The 2022 County Teachers of the Year is a strong cohort and it is an honor to be a part of it. Once a TOTY, always a TOTY so the friendships formed within this group are sure to last for years to come. The sponsors, UNUM and Lee Auto, to name two major contributors, have made it possible for the Teacher of the Year cohort to be treated as professionals so that travel to state-wide events is a luxury in that expenses are covered. I feel supported and appreciated.

Whose classroom have you visited that really impressed you and what were the pieces that stand out most to you? What did you learn from that experience?

Oh my! There are so many to choose from and I do not want to leave anyone out! 

During these COVID times, extra duties have been added to my schedule, which gave me insight into classrooms that I would not have normally walked into. Spending time in the K-8 classrooms during snack time, lunch, and indoor recess, have given me the gift of spending extra time with students in their homeroom in a relaxed atmosphere. Student interactions in their own environment during non-instructional time, gave me a glimpse of their social interactions.

 Composer project, 4th grade project at the Conners Emerson School. The students learn about a different composer each year, Rebecca draws it and cuts it apart, deals out the “puzzle pieces,” students color, assemble, and voila, masterpiece legacies!

Each physical classroom that I was assigned to, was set up differently, taking on the persona of the classroom teacher. One was decorated with elephants. The color blue was the predominance of another classroom. Yet another displayed items accrued on an overseas trip. Some classrooms were calm while others caused overstimulation, in my opinion. 

One thing that all the classrooms had in common was the display of student work. Whether it be self-portraits, a research project, or the signing of a classroom contract, every child was represented in some way in the classrooms. I work with incredible teachers at Conners Emerson and each brings a personal touch to their classroom to create a positive, safe, and inspirational cultural community. 

There are 32 composers hanging in Rebecca’s music room – one for each year that she has taught at CES. They are a good conversation starter among students plus alumni who return like to point out which composer that they helped create

You’ve had professional development in ‘communicating with the press’ since you’ve been selected as the Hancock County Teacher of the Year. What did you learn that is good advice for all teachers in communicating about the importance of your role as a teacher?

Communicating with the press is much different than communicating with your students. Teachers present new skills and techniques to students in numerous ways to accommodate various learning styles. With media, your communication needs to be clear, concise and to the point. Do not babble. 

Reporters love to let you talk on and on to catch you on something. Less is more. Keep it short. Create a one sentence, eight second sound bite from a paragraph to effectively make your point. If the interviewer shifts and has an underlying agenda, say, “That is an interesting question but it is not why I am here. Let me share my classroom experience with you” then blow your own horn.

Edmondson’s Swallowtail Fiddlers in 2009 performing in Agamont Park on the CBS Early Show

You have heard the saying, “Music speaks where words fail.” That is my motto! My Swallowtail Fiddlers spoke through toe-tapping jigs, reels, and strathspeys while performing on the CBS Early Show and the Channel 5 Morning News and I never spoke a word! 

I collaborated with first grade teacher, MaryAnne Young, to create the Maine Musical, Plant Kindness and Gather Love, about nature and Maine history. It makes a musical statement with eleven educational and entertaining songs, enhanced by movement, dance, script, and classroom activities that encourage students to be stewards of the earth. The synopsis features fourteen characters named for the wild flowers of Acadia National Park. All students in grades K-4 performed Plant Kindness and Gather Love at a public performance at The Criterion in Bar Harbor. The timing was perfect, for Plant Kindness and Gather Love became a celebration of the Centennial of Acadia National Park and the Bicentennial of Maine!

Edmondson and Young collaborated to create Maine musical, Plant Kindness and Gather Love. Acadia National Park donated Ranger hats for our young thespians and parent volunteers made flower decorations for the hats representing the wildflowers of Acadia National Park

What advice do you have for new teachers? 

Be flexible, go with the flow, and have a sense of humor. Young students are the source of an endless supply of optimism. Open your mind, hand, and heart and seek resources and opportunities beyond the classroom walls for real life learning experiences. Be a facilitator to spur your students’ imaginations. Expose your students to a wealth of stuff to guide them to discover their talents, to create their own voice, and have fun. Just like my classical training with a love for folk music I have networked with incredible musicians, both professional and recreational. I have the pleasure of expressing myself on both oboe and bagpipes, reaching very different audiences. 

Edmondson with two members from the Dirty Dozen band at their performance at the MENC National Convention in Salt Lake City. Edmondson advocated for school strings programs on a panel of twelve music teachers when she was designated as one of twelve in the country for having a Model Music Program.

Be diligent in continually making connections and build relationships between students and the community to spark an interest with your students. Be a good listener to what your students need and to what your community wants. There is a whole new world out there that is constantly changing. Embrace your journey with your students. You never know where it may lead for your students and you! Anything is possible.

Edmondson having fun being a pirate at Fort Knox. Her students enjoyed her antics.
The best of both worlds of, classical and folk, met on stage at The Grand Theater in Ellsworth. Guest Scottish National Fiddle Champion Sean Heely and Edmondson on the great Highland Bagpipes perform with her community orchestra, TEMPO, while Ethan Edmondson conducts Tributum for Celtic Pipes by Nan Avant, Composed for the Celebrate the World Music! Concert in 2013.
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Extraordinary Executive Director Retiring

July 14, 2022

Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts Executive Director to RetireThank you Fran!

Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, located in Edgecomb, has a long tradition of providing amazing experiences for artists and educators. In January of this year I provided a blog post that shares their story.

The Board of Trustees announces that Executive Director Fran Rudoff will retire in early 2023.

Fran Rudoff

Rudoff began her tenure as Watershed’s executive director in 2013. During her time leading the organization, she spearheaded substantial improvements and additions to the campus. Under her guidance, the Center’s Watershed NOW capital campaign has enabled the organization to open a new gallery space; create year-round offices for staff; host outdoor installations on 22 newly-acquired acres; build a Studio Annex, complete with a wood shop and workshop space; offer new housing for staff; and construct Watershed’s new 7,500 square foot Windgate Studio, the cornerstone of the capital campaign.

In addition to these transformative campus changes, Watershed’s assets have grown significantly under Rudoff’s leadership, $1.2 million in 2013 to over $5 million in 2021, in addition to a $3 million operating endowment. The organization now offers more residency and workshop programs and supports more artists with scholarships than ever before.

Rudoff has also deepened Watershed’s commitment to antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. She worked steadily to increase access to artist programs by creating new funding streams, developing outreach initiatives, and building relationships with partner organizations. A significant partnership with The Color Network (TCN) has resulted in two residency sessions funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Nearly thirty artists of color who are taking part in TCN’s mentorship program convened on the Watershed campus in 2021 and 2022 to work together in person and grow their creative practices. Watershed also serves as TCN’s fiscal sponsor as they grow from a national affiliation of artists into an independent nonprofit.

“In my years of experience with non-profit boards, I’ve never met a more competent and energized executive director than Fran Rudoff,” shared Watershed Board President Bernie Toale. “Fran easily juggles nine things at one time with efficiency and grace. Her achievements over the past ten years are hard to number, but the crowning glory is the construction of our new $3 million Windgate Studio built during COVID lockdown.”

Prior to her time at Watershed, Rudoff worked for the State of Maine in regional planning and resource management, followed by nearly fifteen years as Executive Director of KIDS Consortium, a nonprofit that supported service learning opportunities for Maine students. Rudoff brought her expertise in education to bear on Watershed’s K-12 outreach programs by creating new professional development opportunities for Maine art teachers to hone their ceramics skills and reach more students. The popular grant-funded programs have positively impacted the artistic development of thousands of Maine youth.

All of these accomplishments are buttressed by Rudoff’s abiding care for Watershed’s community. While the organization is based in the small town of Edgecomb, Watershed’s extended network of friends, alumni, and supporters stretches from coast to coast. Rudoff forged lasting and meaningful connections with artists, collectors, and supporters around the country.

“It has been my privilege to steward Watershed over the past decade,” she shared. “The organization’s mission and focus on artists is more important than ever. I am filled with gratitude for the many professional relationships and friendships that have become so important to me and for the opportunity to contribute to Watershed’s growth.”

The search process for a new executive director has begun, with an expectation of having a new leader in place at the beginning of 2023.

“A visionary new director will bring a fresh perspective to this leadership role during a pivotal time in the organization’s development,” said Bernie Toale. “With a new state-of-the-art studio, the stage is set to expand our signature residency program and explore the next chapter of innovative and inclusive programming.”

Watershed seeks candidates with demonstrated fundraising and financial management experience, proven success managing a motivated team, an appreciation for the power of art and artmaking, and an understanding of artist residencies. The full position description and application information can be found on the organization’s website at watershedceramics.org.

About Watershed

Founded in 1986 on the site of a former brick factory, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts’ mission is to provide artists with time and space to explore ideas with clay. The organization was founded by artists with a common vision: to offer a supportive and enriching environment where artists could fully engage in creative practice while working with clay. This vision meets a critical need in the clay community and remains at the heart of Watershed’s programs.

The organization’s internationally-recognized residency model prioritizes the development of creative community; artists work alongside one another in an open-concept studio, collaborate on kiln firings, share meals, and forge lasting personal and professional connections. In addition to the residency program, Watershed’s extensive atmospheric wood and gas kilns draw artists from the region, and guest artist workshops offer hands-on learning experiences led by nationally-known ceramists. Watershed’s K-12 education program provides popular professional development workshops for Maine art educators and connects teaching artists with regional schools.

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