Archive for December, 2010


Congratulations Susan Bryand!

December 24, 2010

Congratulations to Art Teacher Susan Bryand!

Susan was selected by Unum, the Portland Pirates and the Maine Center for Excellence in Education Coalition as the one of the two middle school honorees in their sixth annual Maine Educators’ Hall of Fame-Starting 6.

Each year these organizations recognize two elementary, two middle level and two high school teachers who “have created innovative classroom lessons and find ways to engage parents, families and communities to ensure all students succeed.”!

Suzy was nominated by principal Debbie Ladd. She will be honored at the January 21 Portland Pirates Hockey game. She will receive a free night’s stay at Portland’s Hilton Garden Inn on game night, a personalized Pirates uniform jersey, choice tickets for six, and a check for $500.


Post It Notes

December 23, 2010


Some of you know how much I LOVE to use the stickie notes on the MacBook. If you aren’t familiar with them I recommend their use for remembering bits of information. I used to have pieces of paper or stickie notes everywhere. Now I just have several on the computer. You can even color code them.

Well, I don’t recall who sent me this link to the post-it note artist, John Kenn, but it is fascinating work. The themes are a bit creepy but the work is fascinating. You can see the images and read the interview with the artist on my modern met blog by clicking here


In the News

December 22, 2010

Searsport students – all day arts festival

Middle school and some high school students were treated to a day-long program of arts demonstrations and workshops during the “Middle School Arts Festival” on December 16th. Read more of the article written by Ethan Andrews for Village Soup by clicking here.

Ronald Bisbee demonstrates


STOP and Make the Coconut Cake

December 21, 2010

The importance of holidays

Use the china and the serving platters that your mom passed on to you. Put your good suit on, your new tie and shoes you wore to the wedding. Call that old friend and go to lunch. Make that traditional supper that your adult children loved so much as a child. Visit an elderly aunt/uncle. Go ahead and eat that chocolately dessert. Take a hike at that trail you passed on the road for many years. Make that recipe you’ve been thinking of trying for a very long time. Holidays are special and the end of the year is a time to reflect and make resolutions. Certainly not everyone celebrates Christmas but it is a time when routines are often disrupted.

I suggest you do something out of the ordinary. I absolutely LOVE coconut! Coconut cream pie, macaroons, coconut on chocolate, in chocolate or coconut covered with chocolate. Years ago when I was in college I drove to Florida during a January break and on the way home we stopped and bought coconut candy with chocolate edges. I have loved that candy for years. Last year for Christmas a colleague bought me a box of them that he found at a local department store. Yes, in Maine! They now come in orange, lime and lemon colors. Not the same as the white but certainly if someone gave me a box I would choke them down. I have enjoyed them so much I kept them in the freezer and ate one at a time through the year (one left).

Almost gone!

This fall I organized my recipes and came across a coconut cake recipe. I had torn it out of a magazine and I am certain it was the picture that gave me reason to save it. So, I thought, it is time to FINALLY make that cake. On Saturday morning as we were furiously cooking for our holiday gathering we, my younger son and I, started to make the cake. At some point I thought we might not have enough time to finish it. But with the help of my husband patting the coconut on the last minute it was completed.

Everyone who loves coconut had a piece of the cake. It turned out the taste was great and it was beautiful on top of that. A work of art served on a glass cake dish that I got from my 92 year old mother’s home when we packed it up to sell this summer. A friend said: “this just has to be a tradition now”! Hmmmmmm… I thought, why did I wait so long to make it? So, as we wind down to the last few days before Christmas and look towards a few days of vacation I urge you to take some time and do something out of the ordinary just because you’ve thought about it a long time. Make the coconut cake and as you do imagine me thanking you for the important work you do of educating young people. Enjoy your break from the routine of school…. you deserve it!

Here’s the recipe for the cake in case you share my love for coconut.


  • 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. coconut extract
  • 1 can (13.5) coconut milk
  • 1 c. sweetened flake coconut, finely chopped

Frosting and filling:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces eonfectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 c. strawberry preserves (I used raspberry jam I made last summer)
  • 1 1/2 c. sweetened flake coconut

1) Heat oven to 350. Coat two 8-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottoms of pans with waxed paper, and spray paper.

2) Cake: In a large bowl, whisk togethr flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3) In another large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a tie, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and coconut extracts; beat until combined.

4) On low speed, beat in flour mixture in three additions, alternating with coconut milk. Beat well after each addition. Fold in chopped coconut. Divide batter equally between prepared pans.

5) Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cake layers from pans and cool completely.

6) Frosting: In large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth. Beat in vanilla. On low speed, beat in confectioners; sugar until smooth.

7) Trim cake layers level if crowned. Place one cake layer on a plate, Spread top with jam. Add remaining cake layer and secure with skewers. Spread top and sides of cake with frosting. Remove skewers. Gently press shredded coconut onto sides of cake. Refrigerate 1 hour before sliding.

Per serving: 550 calories; 29 g fat (20 g sat.); 5 g protein; 72 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 240 mg sodium; 87 mg cholesterol. Recipe from Family Circle magazine




Gray-New Gloucester Middle School

December 20, 2010

Transitioning to a standards based school

me with music (band) educator Beth Polletto, art educator Barb Weed, and music (chorus) educator Laura Whitney

In our quest to learn more as we move towards a standard based assessment system for arts education in Maine Catherine Ring and I took a day trip last week to Gray to visit the middle school. Gray-New Gloucester (MSAD 15) is one of the 6 schools/districts in Maine who are working with the Reinventing Schools Coalition (RISC). The other communities are:

  • RSU 57
  • RSU 2
  • RSU 18
  • RSU 82
  • Milford School Department

We really enjoyed our visit and seeing the staff and students in the first half of the year utilizing the standards based system was a great learning opportunity. Barb Weed is the middle school visual arts teacher who also is one of the two teacher leaders. They have had extensive training in the RISC model and the vertical team they’ve created has gone deep into the work. In fact, each teacher said they would never go back to the other way of teaching and learning. The principal and assistant principal emphasized that the work is just at its beginning point and they agreed that the journey has just begun.

The most impressive part of our day was the conversations with students. They were not only engaged in their work but were articulate about sharing their knowledge of the work and the program/system. They also said they weren’t interested in going back to school the way it used to be. We will continue to share information as we learn.




In the News

December 19, 2010

Bangor Daily News – Dec. 16th

Hampden Academy students get trained in music industry by Emily Burnham.

“The training that young musicians receive in high school is invaluable. It sets them up for a lifetime of music, whether it’s in a professional setting, as a hobby or simply as a fan. Beyond performance, however, the ins and outs of being a musician sometimes get lost, or don’t get taught at all. How many people learn in high school how to record an album, produce it, distribute it and publicize it?” Read more by going to,161679


Two Kinds of People

December 17, 2010

Daniel Pink and his whole new mind

If you haven’t read Daniel Pink’s books A Whole New Mind and Drive I suggest you put them on your wish list. I tried to get Daniel Pink to travel to Maine for the statewide arts conference in October 2007 and I was informed that for $38,000 he would be here. I replied with “OUCH!” I asked the scheduler if he would come for a reduced fee if we fed him lobster, took him to see moose and provided a lovely day fishing on one of our beautiful ponds in Maine?! She responded negatively but said she’d be glad to come at no cost if we’d do the same for her. I suggested she create an inflatable sculpture of Dan and send it up with a tape recorded keynote speech. We laughed for a bit and hung up the phone with Dan staying south of Maine and us with another day at the drawing board finding a keynote speaker.

Fortunately with the use of technology I can read Dan’s latest blog posts at his site and he can push on my brain and not even know that he is doing me a service. I was able to hear him speak twice, once at the national art ed conference in New York City. So when I read his blogs I can hear his voice reading to me.

Anyway, he wrote this very short, to the point blog post on December 13th called There are two kinds of people in the world.

I am reprinting it here for each of you to get a “quick think” in…

There are two kinds of people in the world . . .
Those who make your life easier — and those who make it harder.

Those whose presence helps you perform better — and those whose presence makes you do worse.

Those concerned about doing the work — and those concerned about getting the credit.

Those who leave you feeling up — and those who leave you feeling down.

Those who simplify — and those who complicate.

Those who listen when others are talking — and those who wait when others are talking.

Those who give — and those who take.

Those who last — and those who fade.

Which are you?

I certainly hope you are there for your students being the kind of person they each need at that very moment when you are needed most!

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