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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Allie Rimkunas

May 31, 2016

Teacher Leader series

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This is the twelfth and final blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 71 posted to date.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 9.05.08 PMAllie Rimkunas has taught in the Gorham School Department for 18 years, the last 12 as a K-5 Art teacher responsible for 500+ students.

What do you like best about being a music/art/drama/dance educator?

I get to play with the coolest supplies with all of the students. I also love getting messy and reminding kids that nothing is perfect.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

Having fun, teaching how to be courageous, imperfect, and open to change. (Oops, that was four. Hey- I’m an Art teacher, not a math teacher!)

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

It makes me think much more about what I’m teaching, how I’m teaching, why I’m teaching it, and how it can help my students to become more creative inside and outside the Art room.

IMG_0178What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

It’s great to hang out with Arts teachers from all over Maine and pick their brains not only about assessment, but everything else that we have in common. It’s lonely being the only Art teacher in the school with no one else to commiserate with on topics that are important to me as an Art teacher. Our district VPA teachers are given time together only once or twice a year. We’re social animals and need time to share and learn from each other.

Meeting with folks from all over the state also gives me tons of ideas to think about and new strategies to try out.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Whenever I run into students at the grocery store they run to me and not away from me.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

The lack of time to do all of the things I want/need/should do.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

I would change the word “luck” to “talent” and say that my artistic and teaching “talent” is not innate but developed through work and perseverance.

As far as “luck” is concerned, I’m the luckiest Art teacher in Maine, probably the world. I have a beautiful Art room, wonderful co-workers, understanding and supportive administrators, and terrific students.

IMG_0366Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

Love your kids, especially the difficult ones. You never know how far love will reach in their lives.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

I’d pay off my kids’ college debts, then I’d love to create a nature program for the neighborhood kids, and then…wait, can we up it to an even million? I need to do some traveling to soak in the Art and cultures of the world.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

My only regret is that cloning has not been perfected so that I can have a second brain to remember all of my student’s names (especially in the grocery store when their names become “sweetie”, “big guy”, or “you with the face”).

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Free Museum Admission

May 30, 2016

Nation-wide

NEA media contact: Elizabeth Auclair, auclaire@arts.gov, 202-682-5744
Blue Star Families contact: Bana Miller, bmiller@bluestarfam.org, 910-578-4841

Free Admission at 2000+ Museums Nationwide for Military Families

As Part of Seventh Year of Blue Star Museums

Washington, DC— NEA Chairman Jane Chu and Blue Star Families CEO Kathy Roth-Douquet announced the seventh annual launch of Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel including National Guard and Reserve and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2016. The program also provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation’s cultural heritage and learn more about their new communities after a military move. The complete list of participating museums is available at arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.

“The Blue Star Museums program is a fun, free activity for military families to enjoy during the summer months,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The program is also a great way for service member families to connect to their new communities, and it can provide a meaningful way for families to reconnect after deployment. The Blue Star Museums program is also a perfect way for the arts community to say ‘thank you’ to our service members and their families for the sacrifices they make on our behalf, every day.”

“Blue Star Museums has grown into a nationally recognized program that service members and their families look forward to each year,” said Blue Star Families Chief Executive Officer Kathy Roth-Douquet. “It helps bring our local military and civilian communities together, and offers families fun and enriching activities in their home towns. We are thrilled with the continued growth of the program and the unparalleled opportunities it offers.”

Following the remarks, participants joined a tour of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, part of the Naval History and Heritage Command, a museum dedicated to preserving over 240 years of naval history in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

This year’s Blue Star Museums represent not just fine arts museums, but also science museums, history museums, nature centers, and dozens of children’s museums. Among this year’s new participants are the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover, New Hampshire, the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History in Pacific Grove, California, the Rochester Museum & Science Center in Rochester, New York, and El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a living history museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Visit arts.gov/bluestarmuseums to find a state-by-state list of participating museums.

All summer long, Blue Star Museums will share stories through social media. Follow Blue Star Museums on Twitter @NEAarts and @BlueStarFamily, #bluestarmuseums, on Facebook, and read the NEA Art Works blog for weekly stories on participating museums and exhibits.

Museums are welcome to join Blue Star Museums throughout the summer. Interested museums may contact bluestarmuseums@arts.gov or call 202-682-5451.

Leadership support for Blue Star Families programming and promotional materials has been provided by MetLife Foundation. The effort to recruit museums has involved partnerships with the American Alliance of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Association of Children’s Museums, the American Association of State and Local History, and the Association of Science-Technology Centers.

About Blue Star Museums

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America. The program runs from Memorial Day, May 30, 2016 through Labor Day, September 5, 2016.

The free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, which includes active duty U.S. military – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps – and up to five family members. Some special or limited-time museum exhibits may not be included in this free admission program. For questions on particular exhibits or museums, please contact the museum directly. To find participating museums and plan your trip, visit arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.

This is the latest NEA program to bring quality arts programs to the military community. Other NEA programs for the military have included the NEA Military Healing Arts Partnership; Great American Voices Military Base Tour; and Shakespeare in American Communities Military Base Tour.

About Blue Star Families

Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military spouses, children, parents and friends, as well as service members, veterans and civilians, dedicated to supporting, connecting and empowering military families. With our partners, Blue Star Families leverages data-driven insights to curate resources for military families, including career development tools, local community events for families, and caregiver support. Since its inception in 2009, Blue Star Families has engaged tens of thousands of volunteers and serves more than 1.5 million military family members. Blue Star Families also works directly with the Department of Defense and senior members of local, State and Federal government to bring the most important military family issues to light. With Blue Star Families, military families can find answers to their challenges anywhere they are. Visit bluestarfam.org for more information.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the agency is celebrating this milestone with events and activities through September 2016.

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Creativity is All the Rage

May 29, 2016

OH my my! – You’ve got to read this!

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/tallulah-god-destruction-commencement-address-garrison-dare-dukes

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Coloring Books

May 28, 2016

Round and round we go

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 11.03.31 PMThis new interest about coloring books for adults is fascinating. One day I think – WHAT???? – I can not support this new fad (is it a fad?)! And, someone says something very rational like “coloring relieves stress” or “at least people are coloring and not stuck in front of their computer screen”. I can’t help but wonder if the adults that are so excited about them had a poor or no art education and it is their way of thinking they are being creative.

I am reminded of a story from when my older son was 4 years old (her’s now 28). We had taken an overnight trip to Boston and while staying at a hotel the waitress brought over a place mat and bran new crayons. The place mat had some coloring book page looking picture. My son looked up at me and asked: “what is this for?” I had only ever given him plain paper to create on and had no idea what the coloring book place mat was for. I just turned it over to the blank side and he was happy as can be.

Interestingly enough, The Art of Ed had a blog post about coloring books recently. And, they put the call out to through their social media and asked people what they thought. The response is all over the place but I am glad they took the time to ask since it provides a full perspective on the topic. 85% of those who responded felt that coloring books for adults are just a fad. What do you think? I guess ‘time will tell’ and in the meantime please just take out your favorite coloring materials and a plain piece of paper and draw, draw, draw! You can read the Art of Ed blog post by CLICKING HERE.

 

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Brain Research

May 27, 2016

June 29 workshop

“Multiple Pathways to the Student Brain”

Workshop designed for PK-12 Educators of All Subjects

  • “She doesn’t understand it because she doesn’t try hard enough.”
  • “Most people are right-brained or left-brained.”
  • “He will never be able to learn.”
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Dr. Janet Zadina

If you’ve ever heard yourself utter these ideas, you will not want to miss the upcoming workshop by neuroscientist and educator, Janet Zadina, PhD. For the first time in Maine, Dr. Zadina will be presenting “Multiple Pathways to the Student Brain” on June 29th for PK-5 or June 30th for 6-12 at Cony High School.  In this engaging workshop, Dr. Zadina will explain how the brain learns and dispel the neuro-myths that are common. She will address how to raise achievement in low performing students, the invisible brain process that may account for much of math and reading difficulty, the pathways to creativity and how to tap into the pathway affecting motivation. Participants will leave with concrete, actionable advice and strategies that can make a difference in day-to-day instruction. Teachers will find the information that Dr. Zadina presents to be truly transformational.

Registration for these workshops is open until June 15th. The workshops are available by pre-registration only and the $75 fee includes a light breakfast, catered lunch and snacks.  This workshop is sponsored by the Maine Science Teachers Association, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, Maine Sprouts and the Maine Department of Education.

For a registration form or for more information contact Maine Sprouts at www.mainesprouts.com, mainesprouts@gmail.com or by calling 446-8444.  School superintendents and curriculum coordinators should also have received information and a registration form via email.

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Happy Dance

May 26, 2016

Project in dance

IMG_2326Lubec teachers and Washington Academy (WA) collaborated to dance for a surprise school wide assembly. The surprise was complete with gleeful clapping, hoots and wows  from the student population. Their performance was followed by Gaetani leading the entire PK-8 school in 4 line dances. Connie Bagley is Lubec’s Art Teacher and gifted and talented Coordinator. She led Lubec’s staff in learning a line dance to “Happy Song” by Pharrell Williams. WA Dance “Guru” Gina Gaetani helped Bagley with choreography and had come to Lubec with her WA dance students to help teach the Lubec staff and then again to dance with them.

Bagley says the point of the Dance Project was to model creativity, arts integration and open mindset. Her idea to create Professional Development for teachers was for “Brains on Fire”  a graduate class she is taking with Catherine Ring and the New England Institute for Teacher Education. Here is the public link  https://prezi.com/dashboard/  to a Prezi she presented to teachers under her name Connie Harter-Bagley and is titled “Gifted and Talented Lubec”.  Connie has a dozen Art related Prezis to share.

Thank you Connie for providing this blog post that provides food for thought for other educators.

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Mandi Mitchell

May 25, 2016

Teacher Leader series

MALI_V1_Color_100ppi

This is the eleventh blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 70 posted to date.

IMG_4336Mandi Mitchell has been teaching Visual Art for the past three years at Hermon High School (HHS), grades 9-12. Mandi teaches 120 students of the 500 students attending the school. This year she restructured her curriculum and course offerings to better suit the needs and wants of students. The first course that a student takes in Visual Art is Art Foundations, which runs for the entire year. After they take that course, they can choose to take any of the following four semester courses: Advanced Painting & Drawing, Ceramics & Sculpture, Graphic Design & Printmaking, and Photography. Mandi created the first Art Club for HHS a year ago and serves as the Advisor for the Class of 2018. Before Hermon, she did a lot of substitute teaching for various subject areas (mainly art) in Hampden at Reeds Brook Middle School and Hampden Academy. As many know, finding a teaching job in the arts can be somewhat challenging, so she took as many substitute jobs as she could! Mandi also substituted at John Bapst Memorial HS (my alma mater), Brewer HS, and schools in Orono.

What do you like best about being a visual art educator?

It is hard to think of just one thing that I like best about being an art educator because there are so many reasons! Usually at the end of the year, my students express how I have encouraged and helped them to be persistent and persevere through creative challenges. I like seeing them grow more confident in themselves and their skills, enjoy creating art, and embracing their individuality.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. Expose student work. Whether it be a theatrical performance, jazz concert, or art show, it is important for you to share and celebrate these talents with their family, friends, and community.
  2. Vary options to explore creative expression. Arts education is not one-size-fits-all. Perform, dance, or draw your ideas, thoughts and feelings.
  3. Provide a nurturing atmosphere. Students should be provided with an opportunity to be creative, expressive, and unique!

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Assessment is so important in my classroom. The way in which I create my rubrics is highly successful. Both expectations and criteria for my assignments are clear and it is a great tool for student success. I have found that my rubrics can help students to further develop their work. They are able to set their own bar high and push themselves.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

  •  Camaraderie
  • Networking
  • Support
  • Professional Development
  • Confidence
  • Leadership Opportunities

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of myself for expanding the visual arts program at my school, making it appealing to many students. Restructuring my curriculum this year made a huge impact on enrollment.

 What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

 One word. TIME. Oh, and money.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Honestly, getting the teaching job that I have at Hermon. I am very lucky and fortunate to be surrounded by a very supportive staff, administration, and community. So, some would say that it is luck. I am a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason, and I was patient and determined for three years after graduating college to land this “perfect” teaching job!

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

  • Stay organized. It makes life easier.
  • Get involved in your student’s extra-curricular activities. They appreciate (and notice) when you go to their sporting and academic events.
  • Never bring student work home to grade. I have learned that the hard way and wanted to laugh when I was told this, but I have now adapted this mentality.
  • Have an “agenda” displayed for what the class schedule looks like for that day. You’ll repeat yourself less and students will have an expectation of what to do and what’s to come.

 If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

First, I would want to travel around the world to experience the art and culture of different countries. Additionally, it would be great to bring a group of students with me to share those experiences and see some amazing art and culture!

Second, I’d use a good chunk of that money to build an amazing art room at my school with some top-notch technology and materials!

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

At this point in my life, there isn’t much that I have been regretful of…so I probably wouldn’t have anything to regret at the age of 94.

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