What Principals are Saying

November 30, 2015

Kudos to Arts Educators

For the statewide conference in October the principals of the visual and performing arts teachers who attended, were asked what their teachers contribute to their schools and students. Below are some of the responses. A post was made earlier that includes others.


Principal Tom Sullivan said: “SARAH WILLIAMS and LINDSAY HARTWELL are the soul of Glenburn Elementary School.”

They are energetic, creative and passionate about sharing their skills and abilities with all of our students.  Together these two teachers transform our school into a caring and collaborative community of high achieving learners.

They teach the arts but our kids learn about life! We would not be a great school without them.


Meghan Ward, Principal said about Music Educator ROB WESTERBERG, York High School

Rob is a champion of students and the arts- ever mindful of the positive impact introducing students to new learning can have on their lives.


Principal Ann Hassett said about art educator LISA WORKMAN, Nobleboro Central School

It’s hard to put into words just how important Lisa Workman and her art instruction are to our school and our students. When Lisa is at our school – just two days a week – the whole place feels lighter and happier. Lisa brings creativity and a sense of wonder to everything she does. Uplifting, positive, affirming are just a few of the adjectives we would use to describe Lisa. She inspires us all – students and adults alike.


Principal Kevin Harrington said about music educator JAN GILL, Livermore Elementary School

Mrs. Jan Gill is a gem among gems. Jan lives an inspired life through music and kindness. Instilling in students and adults alike, passion for their chosen path, she seldom insists, yet always guides. We are blessed to call her our friend and music teacher.


Principal Matthew Gilbert said about JEFF BAILEY, Mountain Valley High School

Jeff begins by developing basic foundational skills with his students then works to inspire, challenge, and motivate them to use those skills in creative and meaningful applications. His impact reaches well beyond the classroom. Several of his students look to pursue related careers after high school.


Principal Becky Fortier said about Art Educator ALLIE RIMKUNAS, Great Falls Elementary School

Allie Rimkunas is a true example of effective art instruction. She incorporates best practices in her everyday lessons. Allie has high expectations for student achievement, while teaching in a clear and concise manner. She constantly varies her methods and materials to produce a creative, safe and supportive environment. Her enthusiasm, energy, and passion create a nonthreatening atmosphere where students can explore their interests.

She is such a wonderful, positive, amazing asset to the Great Falls community. Walk into Allie’s class and spend a minute observing and it is very clear how passionate she is about art instruction. She incorporates technology into her practice and finds ways to enhance the creative projects that she has done in the past. Allie connects student learning to science and social studies topics that excite and engage them. Having students reflect and assess on their own pieces of art is part of her ongoing practice.

Allie pays close attention to connecting student learning to the art standards. She always puts her students first and never compromises the good work happening in her art classroom. Allie is a true leader. She interacts with our students outside of the classroom as well. She leads an outdoor club and participates in all our school community activities. Great Falls loves Allie Rinkunas!


Principal Wayne Anderson said about Music Educator JOSH BOSSE, Madawaska Middle/High School

Josh’s role in Madawaska’s music department has been, and still is, innovative and rigorous ensuring students receive the best education possible while not accepting mediocrity or disingenuous work.  Josh takes pride in making sure every student is actively engaged and participating fully to his/her potential.  He brings to our students new and engaging ways to learn and understand music – be it contemporary or generational.  His passion for what he teaches is infectious both to students and colleagues.  There are no shortcuts, no half-steps or corner cutting with Josh – his integrity, both personal and professional, are beyond reproach.

Josh’s approach to student learning is quite simple – if you work hard, you will be successful; failure is a choice, not an option.  Students are not allowed to “cruise” through class, but must produce, must apply themselves, must meet their potential.  It is a personal goal of Josh’s to see every student achieve success; he provides every opportunity for students to reach the challenges he sets forth for them. That being said, he will not enable students or compromise the integrity of student learning for any reason.  Students are provided every opportunity to be successful – but they must do the work.  To that end, Josh is constantly pushing, prodding, compelling, and cajoling students forward in their learning by providing appropriate supports, positive feedback, and genuine compassion for their efforts.  There are no free rides with Josh – there are, however many avenues and opportunities for success if students seek them out.

Josh is the consummate professional; he is also very caring and understanding.  He is extremely passionate about his work, and requires the same level of dedication and integrity of himself that he requires from his students.  His interpersonal skills are wonderful, he has very good insight, is adept at de-escalating individuals and diffusing difficult situations, and works diligently to keep these skills honed to a razor’s edge . . . a true life-long learner.  I often see Josh in our school long before and long after regular work hours, constantly looking out for students’ needs.  His dedication to his students and his craft, as stated earlier, is beyond reproach.  It is not difficult to determine what his expectations are for his students as they are the same expectations he has for himself – 100% effort and no excuses.  More times than I can remember, Josh has extended himself for students, continually striving to instill in them the love of learning he has in himself.  I am very pleased Josh is a member of our staff!


Principal Chris Lajoie said about Art Educator KAREN GOETTING, Bowdoinham Community School

Bowdoinham is a Maine community centered on the arts, and the Bowdoinham Community School is both a reflection and a catalyst of that mentality.  In Karen Goetting’s Art class you will find students creating farm art out of garden botanicals, designing 3-D artwork, or participating in a display at the Merrymeeting Arts Center.  In Sarah Stratton’s Music class you will experience students creating a “stomp” out of found materials, performing choral arrangements, or playing a wide range of instruments as part of an ensemble.  And if you visit us this spring, you will see the Art and Music worlds come together around our school musical, with live music and choreography, and sets designed and created by the students themselves.  The common theme here:  art = community.  We are lucky to have such talent arts educators teaching the kids of a community steeped in the arts.


Principal Maggie Allen said about Art Educator GENEVIEVE KELLER, Windsor Elementary School

Genevieve is inspirational.  She brings the walls of our school to life. Genevieve has developed a continuum of learning over the years that provides students with both depth and breadth of learning. Each year, every student creates a “piece” of a school mural displayed in the hall.  She works closely with teachers to integrate arts throughout our curriculum. Thank you is not enough to express our love and appreciation for her dedication to our school.


Principal April Noble said about Music Educator CYNTHIA KEATING and about Art Educator JENNA LAROCHELLE, Village Elementary School

Cynthia Keating is a gift to the York Schools!  Her energy inspires students, staff and community members.  She plans purposeful lessons and is consistently looking for ways to improve and enhance the music program here at the K-2 Elementary School and the York Schools as a whole.

Jenna Larochelle joins us this year as a new Art teacher in our K-2 school.  We are thrilled to see her build and expand a choice based art studio where children learn to love the arts and find unique ways of expressing themselves.  We were told “not to pass her by” during the interview process and that she is a “true gem.”  We look forward to seeing what she will bring to the York School Department!


What Principal Kim Silsby said about Art Educator JASON MORGAN, Cony High School

Jason Morgan is all about his students!  He gives so much time and dedication to the Arts at Cony.  He usually is among the last teachers to leave and always has a room full of students who love the arts.  He makes connections with numerous organizations in the community through art.  Jason brings the community into his classroom to explore the arts.  This year he started a new class in conjunction with the University of Maine at Augusta.  He is involved with the Family Violence project and numerous other organizations promoting arts.  He helps out with the set design on Chizzle Wizzle.  He is a truly student-centered teacher.


What Principal Christine Boone said about Art Educator ANGELI PERROW, Weatherbee School

“She finds the best artist in each student and inspires that student to stretch their wings and truly draw and paint “outside of the box”.  Everyone is celebrated as an artist in her class.” -5th grade teacher

“I love the artist of the week that Mrs. Perrow promotes! Every child gets a chance to show the inner artist in all of us!” -Teacher

“Our hallways are showcases for student art work. Periodically we have a whole new “gallery” and Weatherbee School appreciates the energy the artwork brings.” -teaching team

“Ms. Perrow honors kids by putting their artwork in shows and displays beyond Weatherbee School. She teaches that art is part of life and helps them feel proud of their strengths and accomplishments when it comes to visual arts.” -Teacher

“I enjoy being able to draw what I see or feel. In this complementary color project, I like how the colors look next to each other. I didn’t know orange and blue were opposites!” -New grade 5 student

“There are so many things that I could say. For example, she is so good at bringing in cross curriculum connections. With Angeli, you can study anything through art!” -Music teacher

“Mrs. Perrow grows and grooms artists. She goes above and beyond on a daily basis.  She sponsors a nature club. She helps students and teachers see the art in the world around them. She helps colleagues celebrate student strengths. Most of all, she leads by example. She is an artist and shares her own work as well as her love for creating it!”


What Principal Dr. Nick Ithomitis said about Music Educator KIM MURPHY, Camden Hills Regional High School

In addition to being one of our best teachers, Kim Murphy has built a reputation across Maine and New England as an exemplary choral instructor. Her students reach the pinnacle of musical excellence.  Kim’s ability to lead and inspire those around her is paramount to the success of our school.  In addition, Kim plays a critical role among her peers; often a voice of reason and clarity.  Kim’s professionalism and leadership have also been recognized by her colleagues and peers across Maine; highlighted by the fact that she was a runner up for the Maine Teacher of the Year. In short, it is no exaggeration to say that during my 41 plus years in education, Kim is one of the finest teachers that I have had the honor of working with.  Any school will be fortunate to have Kim on its staff.  She will help bring praise and recognition to the school or organization and will work tirelessly to help ensure the success of all students.


What Principal Sally Leighton said about Art Educator EMILY JORDAN, Peninsula School

Emily has been our art teacher for several years and has done an excellent job. We had an Art room but because of numbers that room had to become a regular classroom . Despite this , Emily has managed to run a high quality Art program using a movable cart and going room to room.  This year, finally, she has a room of her own and it is an oasis for a number of our students!  She has it beautifully decorated and has displayed art work every where.  Our students love going to Art class and can shine here where, perhaps, not so much in other settings. We are moving toward becoming a Proficiency Based  school (now in grades 3-8) and Emily has, with no hesitation, has jumped aboard for a rather bumpy ride.  She has met several times with me to discuss how she can incorporate her art projects with other classes to help students meet standards in multiple ways. She is a talented, hardworking professional and adds  a great deal to our school.  I am pleased to be able to recognize her valuable contribution to our school.


What Teaching Artist/Collaborator John Morris said about Dance Educator CARMEL COLLINS, Lake Region High School

Carmel Collins gives 110% for her dance students. Along with her enthusiasm and encouragement, she provides her students with a variety of dance opportunities, including community dance performances, guest teachers and specialized dance development.  Having been invited as a teaching artist to work with her dance class, I have seen firsthand how much her students enjoy her class, and how they come back year after year for more. Carmel is a delight to collaborate with – open-minded, creative, and always looking to do work that supports the growth of her students, her community, and her fellow educators.


Living a Creative Life

November 29, 2015

What is creativity, really?

Elizabeth Gilbert did a TED Talk called Your elusive creative genius. I have embedded the link below. Elizabeth believes that: “we’re all creative souls already, we just need to figure out how to harness inspiration and unleash the creative spirit within.” She has 11 ways to think smartly about creativity.

Here’s a segment of #1: If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” It’s like somebody handed that person that placard to wear when they were nine, and they’ve been wearing it around their neck ever since. But rather than challenging them on that, because then they’ll dig in their heels, I ask them to take the word “creative” out of the sentence and replace it with the word “curious,” just to see how ridiculous it sounds. Just that piece alone jumps out at me – my goodness it makes me crazy when I hear people say it.

You can read all 11 at this link: http://ideas.ted.com/fear-is-boring-and-other-tips-for-living-a-creative-life/.

And the TED talk


Truant From School

November 28, 2015

David Coleman – Lead writer for Common Core

Adding the cornerstones of literacy – the arts. What do the arts do that literacy teachers can learn from? The arts offer insight and a multitude of other components. What do you think?



Jackson Pollock

November 27, 2015

Just for fun!



Thank you

November 26, 2015

Two little words that mean so much

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 10.19.25 AMAnother Thanksgiving day is upon us and as I pause this morning to give THANKS I realize how fortunate I am to live where I do, work with the folks that I do, and have been born into the family that I have.

Two important branches of my family have fallen off this month and as I process my losses I try to focus on being grateful to have them in my life and to have loved them.

Below are taken from the Marc and Angel blog that really spoke to me this morning.

  • “Thank you for the incredible people who have stood beside me.” – Know that it’s less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones.  And remember, it’s during the toughest times of your life that you’ll get to see the true colors of the people who say they care about you.  Don’t take these people for granted.  Look around and appreciate them, today.
  • “Thank you for my feelings and emotions.” – The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt only with the heart.
  • “Thank you for giving me someone to love.” – The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.  To love and win is the best thing in the world.  To love and lose, is the next best.
  • “Thank you for my home.” – A house is a home when it shelters the body and comforts the soul.  But a home isn’t always a physical structure, or a specific location on a map.  Home is wherever the people you love are, whenever you’re with them.  It’s not a defined place, but a space in your heart and mind that builds upon itself like little bricks being stacked to create something stable that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.
  • “Thank you for giving me the ability to love.” – Only those of us who are capable of loving deeply can also suffer deep sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract our grief and heals us.
  • “Thank you for my health.” – You may not be perfectly healthy, but if you’re reading this, you’re likely reasonably healthy.  In other words, if you got sick today you could recover.  Never underestimate the gift of your health.  It’s the greatest wealth you will ever own.  It’s the foundation for every chance at happiness and success life has to offer.  Your body is the only place you will truly ever live.
  • “Thank you for the power to give back and make a difference.” – The fact that you can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, is proof that YOU can make a big difference.

And, another saying that I discovered this week:

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk

My warmest wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are today!


Leap Before You Look

November 25, 2015

Until January 24, 2016

The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston is having their biggest show ever and wow, is it an interesting exhibit (and title) called “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 1933–1957”. The show has more than two hundred and sixty works by almost a hundred artists, curated by Helen Molesworth. Black Mountain College was not an artists’ community or a writers’ colony, or even an art school. It was a very small college that was established in the Depression and lasted for about 24 years. Located in Asheville, NC, the most students enrolled was 60. It had to close when the money disappeared. While operating students could take a full liberal arts education including science, mathematics, history, economics, languages, and literature.

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.22.21 PM

Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 3.22.32 PMHere’s what I like best about Black Mountain College: What made Black Mountain different from other colleges was that the center of the curriculum was art-making. Students studied pretty much whatever they wanted, but everyone was supposed to take a class in some kind of artistic practice—painting, weaving, sculpture, pottery, poetry, architecture, design, dance, music, photography. The goal was not to produce painters, poets, and architects. It was to produce citizens.

John Andrew Rice established the college and he did not think of art-making as therapy or self-expression. He thought of it as mental training. Many of his ideas came from John Dewey but there are reflections of Plato’s philosophy as well.

You can read the entire article from the New Yorker about the college and the exhibit by clicking here.


Tina Wood Shares

November 24, 2015

What a switch!

Recently 15 year veteran visual art teacher Tina Wood, Marcia Buker Elementary School (Richmond), emailed me about the work she is doing with students. I could hear the excitement in her voice about what is happening in her classroom that I just had to ask her permission to share it. Below is the email – in Tina’s own words.

IMG_2111I recently had an amazing breakthrough in teaching and learning and must share! At RSU#2 we adopted National Art Standards for our district as our learning targets. I put these in “I can” statements for students and their interest and understanding in learning outcomes was noticeable. Students were curious, questioning and open minded.  Using these statements and their unique art ideas I have been looking for an enjoyable, fun way to assess student knowledge.

Dan Tompkins, IT support at Marcia Buker Elementary School (MBES) found an app, Easy Blogger JR, for the 4 new iPads I wrote a grant for and it has been electric in the art room. Students easily photograph, text or talk about their art and ideas matching their learning to their learning targets independently. It is easy to comment on their posts and students will be able to comment along with parents and teachers. Students are coming in the art room to do their assessment during recess!

This is the biggest amount of joy and bubbling creativity I have ever seen expressed by students!

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 7.16.26 AMThe first blogs posted are 5th grades alabaster stone sculptures that they began while at Viles Arboretum Sculpture Symposium on October 3rd during a day long field trip exploring nature, creativity and stone carving. The article was published in Portland Press Herald Sunday October 11th about MBES students in the Outdoor section called Making a Solid Impression.

I hope you might have time to visit our blog, mbesart.blogspot.com. This is an inspiring adventure for myself and Marcia Buker Elementary School students. If you have questions for Tina please contact her at twood@kidsrsu.org.

And a recent update from Tina: It is exciting in the art room as we learn and grow and express ourselves. Students in the 5th grade have started tweeting what they are learning in art as part of their end of class evaluation. FUN! mbesartstudio on Twitter!


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