Archive for February, 2011


NYC: National Expectations for Arts Ed

February 28, 2011

Next steps with the national arts standards


I arrived in NYC last Wednesday afternoon and met my colleague Ana Cardona from Michigan at LaGuardia Airport so we could grab a taxi together to the perfectly located Crowne Royal Hotel on Broadway.

After checking in we walked towards Lincoln Center through Central Park. We stopped to see the Strawberry Fields Memorial to John Lennon and saw Snowdrops coming through the snow. We arrived early to help set up for the reception being held for our organization of State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE). Scott Noppe-Brandon, the Executive Director greeted us and we were provided with a brief overview of the arts education programs they are presently working with as part of the Center and as outreach to schools and communities. Afterwards we had supper at an Indian restaurant called Sapphire. It was delicious!

Laurie Lock and Chiho Okuizumi from VH1 Save the Music

On Thursday morning we met at VH1 Save the Music and were greeted by Chiho Okuizumi. I met Chiho in September in Maine when she was making arrangements with Iris Fields for the funding provided by VH1 for students in the school in Harmony, ME. She and her colleague Laurie Lock gave us an overview of the program later on in the day.

SEADAE colleagues hard at work

Our meeting started with an update of the National Expectations work and the day ended with strategic planning. The day before  SEADAE leadership met with our national partners including MENC, NAEA, EdTA, AATE, NDEO, AEP, and College Board. I have a better understanding of where the work is at this point. I feel confident that it will go forward stronger due to the understanding that now exists with the partners. Here are the important points:

  • The governance body has an  understanding of the work we do and because of this are now in a position to better assist us.
  • The survey of the states recently completed helped the entire team understand the work that is being led by the arts specialists who have been involved in standards development in each state.
  • The meeting on Wednesday heard reports provided by College Board staff who have participated in the development of the ELA and Math Common Core and the Conceptual Framework for Science.
  • College Board’s support for the effort SEADAE is leading provided important background information. This information will be available shortly and I will share it here.
  • SEADAE has a strategic plan that will provide the states with a  national perspective.
  • The effort is grounded in research collected by SEADAE about what is happening in each of the states. This  will be posted in the near future so you can see how Maine fits into the national picture.
  • We can expect a draft of the National Expectations sometime during the fall of 2012.

As I stated in the past as the work unfolds I will keep you informed through this blog.

14 states represented at the SEADAE meeting

That evening I went to supper with my colleague from Arizona Lynn Tuttle and Chiho. Afterwards 7 of us went to see Driving Miss Daisy with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones. It was absolutely FABULOUS. The actors really draw the audience into the characters. Humor, love, friendship, and trust are portrayed in an amazing way. I highly recommend it!

NYC on Broadway


Heading to the theater


A Very Full Week

February 28, 2011

Ohio, NYC, ice fishing, sleigh riding

My mom

I spent last weekend in Ohio visiting my 92 year-old mother who is living with my sister’s family. It was great to visit with all of them and catch up. My mother absolutely loves to play Scrabble so we did, three times. I think it is the first time I have ever been able to win against her. Luckily she has a friend who plays with her once a week and family members who play. I just hope I am still around at 92 playing Scrabble or doing whatever else I love to do at that time in my life! I especially enjoy when she reminisces and shares stories from the past. Her greatest joy is when my sister’s two and 1/2 year old grandson visits. They have a special relationship. I look forward to her visit to Maine in May. She did request there be no snow during her visit. Hmmmmm…

I returned home for one day and flew south on Wednesday to New York City for a meeting with my colleagues, the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE). The day before our meeting our SEADAE leaders who are working on the National Expectations in Arts Education met with the partners who are leading the work. It was a great opportunity to learn about the progress which I will share with you in another blog post called NYC: National Expectations for Arts Ed. I also had the opportunity to see “Driving Miss Daisy” with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones and as you can imagine it was SUPERB! It was definitely one of THE BEST performances I’ve ever seen. WOWZER is all I can say!

My trip back to Maine was quite an adventure since I was scheduled to fly out on Friday morning at 9:20. Yes, just as the snowstorm was starting in most of Maine. And no, I was not able to get that flight nor several after that. You can read about that adventure that seems so surrealistic to me in a post called I tried to get home, REALLY!

Over the weekend I helped out at a twice a year kid’s ice fishing derby and went for a sleigh ride at a friends home. You can read about those adventures on the blog post called Winter Activities in Maine.

I hope you had a great winter vacation. Even though I worked part of last week as you can see I did enjoy the week!


Instrument of Peace

February 23, 2011

Jake Shimabukuro strums on a Hawaiian ukulele

When Jake was 4 years old his mother gave him his first lesson on the ukulele and he has been strumming ever since. He experiments with different sounds that cross music lines of funk, jazz, rock, classical and flamenco. He is a spokesperson for Music is Good Medicine, a community outreach program that promotes healthy living through music. He travels to schools spreading a positive message to children. He presented at TED and you can see him below at TEDxTokyo. Jake believes that the ukulele is the instrument of peace. You can see him on YouTube playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and other pieces.


Most Interesting Post

February 22, 2011

Stumbled upon this website

I was doing some online research and I stumbled upon a blog that is called Between the By-Road and the Main Road and the by line says Exploring the intersections between art and education. I was fascinated so I read some of the most recent post and then I looked at the titles of blog posts and found this one: Picture Books that Focus on Music. I scrolled down and was stunned at the number of books that were listed. If you are a music teacher or use music in your classroom I highly suggest you check out the blog by clicking here. The blog is created by Mary Ann Reilly and there are several other outstanding posts.


Music to Motivate

February 21, 2011

Music ed renaissance builds student character and discipline

In a recent publication of Scholastic Administrators in an article titled “Five School Districts Reinvented” the author Pamela Derringer describes 5 schools/districts and their work in reforming schools. In these examples it is one individual who takes on the challenge of leading the changes.

The 4th story told in the article describes Indianapolis’ music program. “Seventeen years ago, Indianapolis’s music program was gutted by budget cuts. But now, thanks to two music-promoting superintendents in succession, first Duncan “Pat” Pritchett and now Eugene White, music has made a huge comeback.” The article includes the highlights including a grant for $1.1 million which initially bought 1600 musical instruments for grade 5 and 6 students. Support was provided to teachers to help build the program over the last decade, and recognized the value in collaboration and partnerships. And a K-12 magnet school for performing arts was established.

Dr. Duncan was recognized for his commitment by the VH1 Save the Music in 2005. You might remember reading about the town of Harmony, ME and music teacher Iris Fields and the funding acquired from VH1 in September, 2010.

You can read about the reform in Indianapolis and the other four schools/district by clicking here.


THE Bulletin

February 20, 2011

Congratulations and THANKS!

I am always impressed with the level of professional information that The Bulletin contains. For those of you who aren’t familiar, The Bulletin is the Maine Music Educators Association (MMEA) news and information. It is filled with pertinent information submitted by MMEA leadership and classroom teachers from across the state.

Brunswick Jr. High music educator Heidi Anderson is the editor and does an incredible job creating it. Hats off to HEIDI for a job WELL DONE!

This edition is focused on technology and you can access the recent publication of The Bulletin by clicking here.


World Cup Biathlon: Presque Isle and Fort Kent

February 19, 2011


Last week AOS#95 (Fort Kent) and Madawaska schools were not in session for two days during the World Cup Baithlon. I read the newspaper articles and spoke to a friend who was there and it sounded so exciting. Then I got an email from music educator Ed Boynton describing some of the event. After exchanging a few emails with Ed I am able to put this blog post together, so consider this Ed’s story….

There were athletes from all over the world welcomed in private homes and dormitories during the four days of competition. Hearing so many different languages and being able to interact with so many people from such a variety of cultures was a wonderful learning experience.

Two science teachers from SAD #33 (Wisdom Middle/High School) took their science classes to the Biathlon Thursday, and several of the students were so enthralled with the events and the atmosphere that they returned to the venue.

I think AOS #95 and Madawaska school systems should be recognized for co-operating with the Biathlon Committee and encouraging their staff and students to be part of this fantastic international event.  It was mentioned that there were more live television cameras covering the races than there were at the Super Bowl.

The Ice Castle downtown was built with ice taken from Little Black Lake the same way it was cut and distributed for refrigeration in the old days. I believe each block weighed over 300 pounds.

Melanie Saucier was one of the featured vocalists at the festivities held downtown. Melanie is a sophomore at Community High here in Fort Kent.  She has studied opera for the past several years. She has made All Aroostook and All State Chorus for the past two years. She is my lead alto sax player in jazz/pep band.

As far as next year, the last Biathlon was held in Fort Kent in 2004.  This year the 7th and 8th world cup competitions were held in Presque Isle and Fort Kent. I understand there are a series of eight competitions that form the world cup.  The athletes headed to Norway for the final competition (kind of like a series of NASCAR races).  Fort Kent and Presque Isle will continue to bid for the next world cup, but there is no guarantee  it will be back – ever.

More information and photos can be found at the following links:


Snow sculpture created by Wisdom Middle/High School students, MSAD #33, Winter Carnival, Saint Agatha

Snow Sculptures are created as part of the Wisdom Middle/High Winter Carnival.  Each of the Valley high schools (Van Buren, Wisdom Madawaska, Fort Kent) has some sort of winter carnival in which grades compete with each other.  Besides sports, there are song competitions, guitar and drum solos, dance performances, rock band competitions, and paintings created. These are held each year before or after February break and are great learning experiences and morale boosters. Wisdom’s theme was The 90’s and Fort Kent’s was Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame.


MDOE Art Exhibit

February 17, 2011

January, February, March 2011

A GREAT big thank you to art teacher Sasha Bladen for sharing her students’ art work from MSAD #31. Students from the Enfield Station Elementary School have their artwork on display during January, February, and March at the Department of Education for visitors and staff to enjoy. You can view the student work by clicking here or going to the front page of the blog on the bottom right side and look for MSAD #31 in the column.

Madison - Grade 2


Stephen Bowen – Commissioner of Education

February 17, 2011

Governor announces Education Commissioner Nominee

02/16/2011 03:42 PM EST

Augusta, Maine – Governor LePage has nominated Stephen Bowen as Department of Education commissioner. Bowen is a Senior Policy Advisor for Governor LePage’s administration. Bowen advises the governor on education, government reform, and budgetary matters, as well as marine resources policy.

Bowen taught social studies for a decade in middle and high schools in Virginia and Maine prior to joining the Center for Education Excellence at the Maine Heritage Policy Center in 2007. As director for the Center for Education Excellence Bowen produced research and reports on education policy issues from school choice and charter schools to school finance and school district consolidation.

As a former educator, Bowen will bring the experience from the classroom to the Department to help develop reform that focuses on students. “As for the students we serve, our every effort – every program, every initiative, every attempt at reform – needs to focus like a laser on their individual needs as learners and as people,” said Bowen. “I think we can build a system like that. I look forward to the work ahead, and I am deeply honored that the governor has entrusted me with this important office.”

“It’s bittersweet. Steve has done a marvelous job as Senior Policy Advisor,” said Governor LePage. “I’ve said education is a top priority and I know Steve has the leadership and loyalty that can turn our education system around. I appreciate his willingness to take over.”

In 2002, Bowen was elected to the first of two terms in the Maine House of Representatives, representing Camden and Rockport. During that time, he served on the Marine Resources and State and Local Government Committees, and the Select Committee on Regionalization and Community Cooperation. He served on the legislature’s Appropriations Committee during his second term in the House. Bowen is from Rockport. He has a B.A. in Political Science from Drew University and a Masters of Education from George Mason University.


Empty Bowl Suppers

February 15, 2011

A tradition in Maine

In many school districts, middle and high schools organize Empty Bowl Suppers. Here is the way they work:

  1. Students create bowls in art class, usually on the potters wheel but sometimes by hand
  2. Students, parents, and teachers provide soups, stews, or another meal that can be served and eaten in a bowl
  3. Community members are invited to attend the Empty Bowl supper and are asked to make a donation or a set cost is pre-determined by organizers
  4. Attendees select a bowl that has been made by a student and eat of their bowl during the event
  5. Often music students participate by providing music during the supper
  6. The money raised is donated to a local organization such as a Food Bank

While my sons were in high school they participated in the Empty Bowl and now I have several bowls in my kitchen made by them and their friends.  Read on to learn of a supper coming up this week.

Sacopee Valley Middle School in Hiram, ME is filling bowls to help the hungry in our community. They are proud to host their 1st annual Empty Bowls and Fine Arts Showcase event on Thursday, February 17 from 5-7:30 p.m. Empty Bowls is a nationwide program that has fed thousands of hungry Americans.  This community service learning projecti has been organized by Danette Kerrigan, Art teacher at the middle school.

As part of the project, students have diligently been staying after school to create fantastic clay bowls. For $5 you will have your choice of a bowl and soup and get to keep the bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. All money collected will be donated to two local food pantries to fight hunger in our  community.

Dinner will be served from 5-6:30pm while performances from the Sacopee Valley Community Band will entertain you from 6:30-7:30pm.  In addition there will be a sneak preview of SAD 55’s upcoming performance of Oliver!  Throughout your experience, you’ll be amazed at the student artwork showcase on display.

Please join us as we hope to increase awareness of hunger and support for our community. Tickets can be purchased at Sacopee Valley Middle School or the Superintendent’s Office from 9 a.m. to 3p.m. or on the evening of the event.

For more information, please contact Danette Kerrigan at 625-2450 or To learn more about the Empty Bowls Project, visit

Please leave a comment if you are planning an Empty Bowl Supper and give us the details of the event. Thanks!

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