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Art and Yoga

June 24, 2018

Sweet Tree Arts – Hope

Interested in art and yoga? If so, Sweet Tree Arts Center in Hope is offering a class Art and Yoga Summer Adventure with Nina Devenney for children ages 6-12, July and August. For more info or to register CLICK HERE.


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Education at the Farnsworth

June 23, 2018

Summer Opportunities

The Farnsworth Art Museum, located in Rockland, has a full schedule of opportunities this summer and into September.

On May 20 over 585 visitors attended the opening event of the yearlong Stories of the Land and Its People 2018 exhibition. Attending the event included students, families, educators, artists, and community members. The event kicked off at the Strand Theatre in Rockland with a red carpet entrance and three original performances by 4th grade students at Lincolvnille Central School, Appleton Village School, and Rockland’s South School. Everyone enjoyed poetry readings, films, puppet shows, and collaborative projects by over 165 midcoast students. Eighteen educators and artists were honored at the stage. The exhibition is on view until September 9 with a special tour on July 11, 1:30.

Stories of the Land and Its People program includes 4th and 7th grade students who used the art experience to study a variety of subjects including Maine studies, science, environment, poetry, geography, and more! The exhibit includes interactive stations, digital work and touchable items created for visitors to enjoy. The museum provides this arts in education program free of charge to Mid-coast Maine schools. Funding is provided by several organizations including the Maine Arts Commission.

The Farnsworth’s Stories of the Land and Its People program was developed and led by Andrea L. Curtis, Arts in Education Program Manager, and celebrates its 7th year working with local Maine schools.

Teaching artist Scot Cannon leading students in performance. Photo credit: Michael O’Neil

Other Farnsworth Art Museum learning opportunities this summer include:
  • Special Gallery Tour: Ai Weiwei Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold. Wednesday, June 27, 1 p.m. Meet in the Main Lobby at the museum
  • The Wyeth Experience, Fridays and Saturdays through, July through September, 9:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Tour begins at the Wyeth Center. The tour includes an intimate look at select Wyeth works at the Farnsworth’s Wyeth Center, and continues by van to the Olson House for an in-depth tour.
  • Raising the Stakes Poetry Writing Workshop with Kathleen Ellis, Monday – Friday, July 9 – 13, 9 a.m. – noon, Gamble Education Center.
  • Intro to Plein-Air Watercolor with Annie Bailey, Monday – Friday, July 9 – 13
    10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Gamble Education Center.
  • Wyeth Day Lecture: Christina’s World at 70, Thursday, July 12, 2 p.m.,
    The Strand Theatre.
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Traveling for Learning

June 22, 2018

Enhancing learning and teaching

Sydney Chaffee, the 2017 National Teacher of the Year, went to the capital city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last year and provided workshops on theater education, interdisciplinary learning, and student-centered learning. Students, teachers, and members of the general public came to the workshops. She keeps a personal blog and shared her experiences. Instead of being the “expert” she spent time listening and began to consider ways to collaborate.

Photo by Lindsay Pinchbeck

In 2016 I traveled to Malawi with Lindsay Pinchbeck, founder and director of Sweet Tree Arts Center and Sweetland School in Hope, Me. We provided a 13 workshop for teachers in arts integration. You can read about our experience at the Go! Malawi site. Go! Malawi is a program that one of my former students established. Their mission is to collaborate with rural Malawian communities to develop sustainable programs in education, health care, commerce, and conservation. If you’re interested in traveling to Malawi in the future please email me at argy.nestor@maine.gov to learn more.

Both of these are just two examples of traveling – learning and teaching. This summer consider taking time to research ideas on ways to learn other than in a classroom. There are plenty of opportunities just waiting for you!

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Happy Retirement!

June 21, 2018

Maine is fortunate to have such marvelous educators!

We know that what a teacher offers can have an enormous impact on student development day to day AND over their lifetime. As educators retire at the close of another school year, 2017-18, I know that you join me in THANKING them for their years of service and dedication to students across the state.

I certainly appreciate your commitment and I wish each of you a healthy retirement and many, many years of laughter and love!

The following have contributed a combined 483+ years to teaching visual or performing arts education!

  • VICKI BOVE, Gorham Middle School, Visual Arts, 40 years
  • FLO ESINGER, SAD l5, Visual Arts, ? years
  • ALLEN GRAFFAM, Mt. Ararat High School, Music, 42 years
  • KATIE HALL, Falmouth Elementary School, Visual Arts, 24 years
  • PHIL HAMMET, Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, Visual Arts, 16 years
  • JULIE KLEHN, Waterboro Elementary School, Visual Arts, 31 years
  • STEPHANIE LEONARD, Fairmount School, Bangor, Visual Arts, 25 years
  • ANNE MACEACHERN, Sanford Junior High School, Visual Arts, 40 years
  • JENNI NULL, Songo Locks Elementary School, Music, 40 years
  • SAM MOORE-YOUNG, Carrie Ricker School, Litchfield, Music, 32 years
  • BEVERLY PACHECO, South School, Rockland, Music, 36 years
  • CANDACE PARKER, Lee Academy, Theatre Arts, 22 years
  • MARYELLEN SCHAPER, Bonny Eagle Middle School, Dance and PE, 42 years
  • CAROL SHUTT, Mount Desert Island Elementary School, Visual Arts, 22 years
  • KATHI SUSI, Pittston Consolidated School, Gardiner, Visual Arts, 28 years
  • THEO VAN DEVENTER, Mt. View Middle School, Thorndike, Music, 43 years
  • Flo Eslinger, who is retiring from elementary visual art after serving SAD

A wonderful note from Ann MacEachern on her retirement from Sanford Junior High School after 40 years:

“I’ll miss the chance to interact with kids as they discover talents they didn’t know they had. The outliers, the experimenters and the endearingly quirky denizens of the art room have made most days a joy. 

Retirement will give me a chance to reorder my priorities: more family time (I have 5 grandchildren), my OWN art projects need attention, traveling adventures, live music venues, environmental concerns, sorting years of accumulation to make space for new blessings… the list goes on. 

To ARTS teachers everywhere: Keep pushing for expansion ARTS time in school schedules, physical space in school buildings and fewer students per art teacher. The world needs creative problem solving now more than ever!”

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Lost and Guided

June 20, 2018

PMA and Camden Opera House

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MALI Teacher Leader Story: Will Stecher

June 19, 2018

Music Educator

This is the LAST of several blog posts in 2018 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 7 Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about each leader. CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 93 Teacher Leaders and 8 Teaching Artist Leaders. CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. Thank you Will for sharing your story!

Will Stecher is a music teacher working with students in grades PreK through grade 4; including beginning band in RSU19 – Newport and Corinna Schools. Will is I finishing up his 4th year in his current position and his 7th year of teaching overall. He is responsible for around 460 students between the two schools, teaching general music and 4th grade band.

What do you like best about being a music educator?
The moments when the kids begin to see and feel why we do this thing called art, when they know the song so well that they aren’t even thinking about who is watching them or whether it’s a cool thing to do. The moments when they realize that making music in any form is fun and they want to do it more. The moment when a kid who has been working hard on a song finally breaks through and plays it just right. When kids come into a performance feeling good and regardless of the how that performance went, they are feeling good about what they have done.
What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?
Literacy of your discipline is extremely important, being able to talk about what you are doing when you perform, or discuss the techniques of playing an instrument or what style you are creating within is a key to arts education. Great instruction is also a key, so that kids have a good foundation in the discipline no matter where they go in their schooling or in life. Passion from the instructors the kids have in the arts is a third key. We wouldn’t be in this line of work if we didn’t love our material and transmuting our love so that kids can make it something they love or like to be a part of, is extremely important too.
How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?Assessment has allowed me to see where students are doing well and where they need assistance. It helps students to see these things too, so that ideally, they can become stewards of their own improvement. As artists, we live a life of assessment. always looking at the way things are becoming or happening right in front of us. Ideally, we are passing that on to our students.
What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?
The people I have met and connected/reconnected with in my involvement with MALI have been the biggest benefit. It can make such a difference in the life of a teacher to know that all you have to do is reach out and someone will answer and help in a way that is pertinent and useful. MALI has done that for me.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of the students who continue on in the arts due to the experiences they have in my classroom. Some of these are students who decided long ago they were going to be musical and those kids are great. Just as sweet though, are the kids who haven’t made that decision yet and still participate fully and completely and begin to decide that they want to sing in the middle school chorus or audition for show chorus or keep on playing that instrument because they want to, not because someone is making them.
What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?
Paperwork and time. Paperwork essentially creates a second job for the teacher when the time could very well be spent on improving and creating meaningful instruction. And I always wish that I had time for those kids just starting out with band instruments to really secure fundamentals before they move on.
What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?
I have frequently been told by supervising teachers, administrators and others that I seem to get along with students at all levels, that I know how to relate to them. I feel that this is something that I have not come to just by chance, though circumstances of my life have certainly contributed to it. I think it has come about through experiencing all types of people and learning about all sorts of things, even those that don’t seem to have a connection to our profession.
Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?
Remember to make time for the things that remind you why you teach. Join a band, sing with a group, draw or paint or create or whatever you do. Don’t lose touch with your art because it can help ground you even when you seem to be floating off.
If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?
Professionally, I think the $500,000 would have to go at least partially toward teaching materials and making sure that I and the other teachers in my area had everything wanted or needed to teach the kids I have to the best of my ability. Orff instruments, band instruments, the whole nine yards. SmartMusic for the band kids. A piano lab at the high school. Funding to improve the coming auditorium space in our district
On a personal level, that is a big number and I don’t rightly know what I would do.
Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets? At 94, I don’t imagine I’ll have too many regrets. I think that even though I could have chosen so many other paths in my life, the one I have continually chosen is the one that I was meant to be on.
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In Today’s News

June 18, 2018

Union Elementary School

For the past several weeks artist Randy Fein has been working side by side with art educator Anthony Lufkin and the students at Union Elementary School to create a community themed clay mural. The project was partially funded by the Maine Arts Commission. Check out the article and photographs from the Village Soup at THIS LINK.

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