Archive for July, 2011


Positive Youth Development Institute

July 30, 2011

Arts Workshop

On Tuesday Catherine Ring and I presented a session at the Positive Youth Development Institute at UMaine. I really enjoy this conference because it brings together people from many walks of life. All people who are invested in educating young people. There were traditional school personel including administrators and teachers and educators from community programs and organizations. I saw many educators from the extension/4H programs. I was reminded that “it takes a village” to raise children and it isn’t often that we have the variety of people involved in eduacting young people in one location.

The keynote for Tuesday morning was Tony Wagner whose book “The Global Achievement Gap” is a must read, in my opinion. His Seven Survival Sckills for Teens Today include:

  • Critical Thinming and Problem-Solving
  • Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Initiave and Entrepreneurialism
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination

As you know many of these skills can be learned through an arts experience and that arts educators tap directly into these topics.

If you’d like to learn more take an hour and watch this YouTube of Tony Wagner speaking on the topic. Tony is the first Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard.



Cyber Space Meeting of Artwork

July 28, 2011


You may have read a post from March 5, 2009 called Thank a Teacher where I thanked one of my high school art teachers, Bruce Aydelotte. That post received several comments and on May 9, 2011, more than two years later another comment came through on the post. The time delay was unusual. It said:                 

This is a long shot. I have a pen and ink “Rainy Day” signed Aydelotte ’34. I think your teacher is much too young to have produced this drawing, but perhaps he is the son of ??/? any ideas, please let me know.

I didn’t post it right away since I wasn’t sure if it was spam since so much time had passed. I sent the comment to Bruce and asked him what he thought. He was curious so he emailed the writer and over the next couple of weeks they exchanged many emails figuring out the mystery of the pen and ink she asked about. Below is the story as it unfolded which makes me think without technology this story would not have happened…

In 1934 Bruce’s Dad, Art, was 25 years old and in the State Police. He was a very talented untrained artist and particularly adept at pen and ink renderings. He used cross-hatching and other textural techniques to enhance his work. In 1947 he created a personal Christmas card for Bruce when he was 5 years old. Below are the drawings…


Bruce was curious enough to know if it was his Dad’s work or not so he contacted the person, assuming from the name, Elon, that it was a man. Turned out that the person is actually a woman who is a lawyer from Kentucky. Elon has a daughter with a degree in Graphic Design who was willing to scan the artwork and send it to Bruce so he could predict whether it was his Dad’s or not. The lawyer had framed the work years ago with a yellow frame. She thinks she had probably bought it at a junk shop or antique shop in Louisville, Madisonville, Henderson, KY or some place in between.

Bruce looked closely at the signature, after all this is the man who taught me calligraphy so he knows “stuff” about letters. This is what he says in his email:

The *A* is a cursive style A as was taught in penmanship class and my father had excellent penmanship……I have inserted several examples of his actual signature that I scanned from various membership cards of  his that I still have……..see his sigs below and notice the angle of the lettering, compared to Rainy Day……and the way the A’s are looped as in typical cursive handwriting….all three are very consistent…And in the sig from the drawing the A is a cursive style as well……… notice how his *y* was connected from the capital *A*, but is separate from the *d*. Unfortunately, in the Rainy Day sig several of the following letters are also separated…….but handwriting styles can, and often do,change over years………the sigs that I have shown are from the ‘50’s, when he would have been in his late 40’s……..roughly 20 years later……..

Interestingly enough he adds:

I am not a handwriting expert by any stretch, but I think there are definitely some similarities……..especially in the *Ayd* part…. there are definite similarities.

Bruce and his Dad

So, how did she stumble upon the post about Bruce? Well, here is where technology played an important part in learning about this art work. Talk about a small world… Elon says:

I’ve googled the name over the years and finally added the term pen and ink and found your student’s piece about you.  I noticed in either that (or something near it) the name of my good friend, Corliss Chastain.  Corliss taught art in Maine for years and still lives there. I’ll bet your former student knows her.

Of course I know Corliss and I am sure many of you do. Corliss taught art at Maranacook High School before she retired two years ago. Elon continued…

Arthur Aydelotte, State Police, circa 1935-36

With the availability of information on the internet, I’ve been able to identify a lot of artists.  The “less famous” are just as interesting to me as others and perhaps more interesting to me.  I don’t equate fame to the art.  The old saying, “I don’t know art, but I know what I like.”

Bruce's parents

And then Bruce learned …

Elon wants to gift the artwork to Bruce. He is has mixed feelings about accepting it since she has been such a wonderful caretaker of it for many years. Bruce thinks it is pretty cool that she has searched for a long time to find out who the artist was and now that she knows she is ready to pass it on.

“Quite an interesting adventure of discovery for her, for me, and for you………pretty amazing place this *cyber-world*.” And remember this all started over two years ago with wanting to thank a teacher. Now that it is summer perhaps you have a few extra minutes to think aobut those teachers from your past who have made an influence on you. Have you takent the time to thank them? I hope so!

Art work from the past


Sarah Goes to China

July 28, 2011

Gosh, I wonder what her book will be called?

In May art teacher Sarah Sutter was honored by MEA receiving the 2010 Maine Education Association award for Teaching Excellence. She traveled to China recently with the other state winners.

There were 42 of us on the trip, including a couple of NEA Foundation staff, including Harriet Sanford (President/CEO), Betty Paugh-Ortiz (Senior VP of Innovation), and Susan Burke (Special Projects Director), staff from EF, and from the Pearson Foundation. The group tour was for 10 days, starting June 22, and included Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Sarah Sutter and Sarah Johnston from NM, extended their trip and spent another 8 days in Guilin and Yangshua, flying out of Shanghai on July 8th.

Sarah resigned from her teaching job at Wiscasset High School this Spring and she leaves for Japan in a week to teach for three years. She has trip pictures from China posted that you can take a look at and a link to where her Japan photos will be posted as well.

Photos from day 2:
Photos from day 3:
Photos of Art and Cultural Objects (will be added to from the whole trip):

Lucky for us, Sarah is going to send blog posts periodically to keep us updated on her adventures. I know I will be looking forward to hearing from Sarah!



July 26, 2011

An open letter from performing artist Randy Judkins

Dear Educators:

This is a difficult message for me to write to you. I’m asking for your help – financial help. Not for me, but for a number of Maine artists who have provided creative and superlative services to Maine students this past school year.

You see, I’m the president of the board of directors for a small yet extremely active non-profit organization here in Maine called VSA Arts Maine.   Our mission is to provide ‘arts to all’ especially artists, young and old, with disabilities.  For over 4 decades, we’ve been a contributing state chapter of a National VSA arts organization begun by Jean Kennedy Smith in 1974 and have reached into all corners of Maine, providing artist residencies in schools, workshops for teachers and artists, mentoring for adult artists with disabilities, exhibitions of work by artists with disabilities, and partnerships with cultural venues throughout the state to improve accessibility.  We are the only organization that provides such services with and for artists with disabilities.

The previous couple of years were banner years for us with robust programming by top-notch artists backed by numerous grants, foundational support and a healthy amount of private donations. This recent season, our programming remained ambitious until, to be frank, the proverbial bottom fell out. Grants, donations and foundational support dried up or just never came through to back up our programming commitments. To cut costs, our entire staff has been laid off and our office/gallery closed.

In a nutshell, I am trying to raise $18,000 which will go towards paying our commitment to artists and closing out our fiscal year. We could use your help. Your generosity will be greatly appreciated.  Checks made out to “VSA Arts Maine” can be sent to VSA Arts Maine, PO Box 65, Yarmouth, ME 04096.

Most hopefully and grateful,

Randy Judkins



Touch Wood

July 25, 2011


Not to long ago I shared a YouTube on Touch Wood that shows the equisitely conducted wood structure/instrument created in the forest. In case you missed it the link to that is I wondered how it was created and thought about my visit to Japan and the people who are masters at taking the time for precision, design, and thoughtfulness at most everything they do.

Recently a colleague from Vermont sent me a YouTube that shows the making of the first video. It is a wonderful example of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) and demonstrates the integration of the arts, technology, craftsmanship, physics, and engineering.


Integrating the Arts Across the Curriculum Webinar

July 24, 2011

Education Week Webinar

Perhaps you joined in on the webinar that was held this past Tuesday, July 19th, on Integrating the Arts Across the Curriculum. I was glad I had the hour to listen to Sandra Ruppert, director of the Arts Ed Partnership and Shana Habel, dance demonstration teacher, Los Angeles Unified School District and co-president of the California Dance Education Association. The presentation was moderated by Erik Robelen, assistant editor from Education Week.

We know that integrating the arts is not a new idea. In fact, I was doing graduate work in 1974 when there was very little research available. Today I did a google search using “arts integration” as the key words and got 47,700,000 results. WOW! Those promoting the idea say that it is gaining a stronger foothold.

You can listen to the webinar by going to this website:


Curran and Moore-Young Travel to DC

July 23, 2011

Music Education Week

Nancy Curran, Senator Collins, Sam Moore-Young

MENC/NAfME (National Association for Music Education) held it’s annual National Assembly of state leaders in June as part of Music Education Week in Washington.  A major part of the event focused on advocacy at the national, state, and local levels.  On June 28th, 90 music education leaders from across the country descended on Capitol Hill to meet with their state Congressional leaders.

The Maine contingency visiting Capitol Hill included Nancy Penna Curran, MMEA President-Elect, and Silvia (Sam) Moore-Young, MMEA Immediate Past President. The two met with a staff member (by video conference) of Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. The staff member was in Portland, Maine but the two felt it was important to meet on the “day” in spite of this. She was very attentive and displayed a general interest to their requests. Next was a visit to the office of Michael Michaud where they were greeted with the same general interest and good note taking by his staff member.

In the late afternoon they had a meeting scheduled with Senator Susan Collins who was presenting on the Senate floor so they held the meeting just outside the Senate chamber. It was very exciting to be able to travel the tunnels and ride the tram with escorts! The staff member who took notes is relatively new to the office so they took the opportunity to communicate the role of music education as a core subject. They also spoke to the Senator and they were encouraged by her interest and attentiveness to continuing support for music.
Their last visit was with the office of Senator Olympia Snowe. They met with a staff member who spoke about her own experieince with music education and she was GREAT. The Senator came in and they exchanged a few personal connections (people we know and are related to), thanked her for her support and gave a quick reminder to keep the arts in our public schools.

They shared a concise message and handouts from the MENC/NAFME advocacy staff. In the next few days they will contact the offices of the Congress people and Senators to thank them for their time and renew the message.

Thank you to Nancy and Sam for provided the information for this blog post.


Messalonskee High School Concert

July 22, 2011


Taste of Summer

July 21, 2011

Farm markets, beaches, cook-outs, summer time projects

I hope you are doing what you love to do best in the summer, whatever that may be! There are so many things I like about summer. I picked raspberries last week and just can’t decide if I like them best on my oatmeal in the morning, on my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch or on ice cream after supper. WOW, are they good! I am sure I will find them just as yummy next winter when I am yearning for something fresh!

I have been busy working with the planning committee for the teacher leader arts education institute coming up in August. The professional development opportunity that 18 arts educators will be participating in will be held at Maine College of Art in Portland. The teacher leaders, selected by application, have been participating in online conversations in a wiki answering questions about technology, leadership, and assessment.

The teacher leaders will create workshops that they will facilitate at the statewide arts education conference on October 7th at USM, Portland. I hope you will join us at that event. They will also present one workshop in their region of the state during the school year.

I will post more information on these events as they unfold. You can also check the arts assessment wiki at


News Release

July 20, 2011

Conference to Focus on Keeping Kids in School

ORONO – More than 200 professionals working with students in schools, the juvenile justice system and after-school programs will gather next week for three days of training focused on gaining the tools needed to engage students in their learning and keep them from dropping out.

The Maine Positive Youth Development Institute, which takes place July 25-27 at the University of Maine, will highlight innovative research and practices to increase graduation rates, boost academic success and reduce dropout and detention rates.

The three-day gathering will feature more than 30 interactive workshops offered by a range of presenters, including students.

“We want to give plenty of tools so people not only see the warning signs, but know right up front, what good engagement looks like,” said Shelley Reed, truancy and dropout prevention coordinator at the Maine Department of Education.

Tuesday’s agenda features a keynote address by Tony Wagner, Innovation Education Fellow at Harvard University’s Technology & Entrepreneurship Center. Wagner will also participate in a higher education roundtable discussion focused on teacher preparation.

The Positive Youth Development Institute’s 2011 theme is “Opening Doors to Student Success.”

View the conference agenda and workshop descriptions online at: All sessions are open to media coverage.

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