Archive for April, 2013


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Jane Snider

April 30, 2013

This is the 29th in a series of blog posts telling arts teacher’s stories. The first 19 were told last year by the phase I Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leaders. The series continues with the stories from the phase II teacher leaders. These posts contain a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read educators stories and to learn from others.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJane Snider lives in Milbridge, Maine. This is her 20th year teaching elementary art. Her first 9 years were in Washington County, SAD #37. Jane taught in 5 elementary schools with an average of 550 students. She had an art cart in each school and went classroom to classroom. It was a challenging job, but she loves a challenge and made it a successful experience. In 2002 she downsized to one school In Hancock County, Hancock Grammar School (HGS). She was so excited to have her first “art classroom”. Jane is still teaching at HGS and as a result of the consolidation of RSU#24 she also teaches K-8 at Lamoine Consolidated School.

What do you like best about being an art educator?

I love sharing my passion for art and life with my students. I love teaching and guiding them in “seeing” their world. Watching the development of each student from year-to-year is fascinating. I feel lucky to have many of the students from kindergarten through eighth grade. The relationships that are formed through art learning are very rewarding. The thoughts, ideas and insights that my students share with me, inspire me.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. A committed, passionate, knowledgeable teacher who believes that the arts are fundamental to the human experience.
  2. Students that love and appreciate the arts. Their advocacy is essential for parental, administrative and community support.
  3. Financial funding support is also an added bonus!

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Assessment in elementary art has always been of interest to me. How do we assess or score something that is personal and subjective? I believe we assess our teaching objectives. I use many formative assessments in my teaching. I try very hard to dialogue with each student about their process. Most of all, I want students to love what they are doing. I want students to feel good about their work. I want to instill an appreciation for art. We must self-assess our learnings to nurture our growth. Student work must be exhibited. It needs to go up on walls or out in the community. This allows the students an opportunity to quietly self-assess. As the teacher, I ask the questions “Did the student learn the concept or skill being taught? Does the artwork reflect their knowledge and skill?”  Assessment is attached to the validity of a subject. If we want arts programs to be successful we must assess the outcomes.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

The MAAI has been a great experience. I have met some wonderful colleagues to collaborate with across Maine. I have learned so much about assessment, teaching and learning. I have been able to reflect on my teaching practices and make changes that will help students be more involved, accountable and successful. MAAI provided me with the training and opportunity to share this information and knowledge with my local colleagues.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of the curriculum and program that I have built for my students. Stories from students, both past and present, have let me know I made a difference in their lives.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

I am always striving to be the best teacher I can. Time is a challenge, I wish I had more teaching art time with students. More time to collaborate with other teachers would be helpful.

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 worked hard to develop a strong arts program. My classes go quite smoothly do to years of learning about child development, teaching and learning practices, classroom management techniques, organization and flexibility.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

LOVE WHAT YOU DO! CREATE your teaching experience. Enjoy it, know that you are making a difference. Advocate for the arts and yourself. Never stop learning about  education and students. Find out what motivates and inspires arts learning.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

$500,000 ???? I would become mortgage free!  I would find or build a building to start an art co-op to exhibit local artisans and their work. I’m getting closer to retirement so I would probably do more of my own artwork and offer art classes.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

I have no regrets, my life has been full, rich and rewarding. I have had some incredible tragedies, some amazing opportunities, the best friends, family and colleagues. I have shared with many what gifts I’ve been given. I have learned much, laughed often, loved with all my heart. I found my purpose in doing what I love.

Thank you Jane for sharing your story!


MAAI Professional Development

April 29, 2013

Teacher Leaders and Leadership Team meet


On the last week of Spring vacation 25 arts educators met at the Maine Department of Education (MDOE) to participate in a day-long professional development opportunity entitled: Understanding and Implementing Quality Arts Assessment. Earlier this school year 4 of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) teacher leaders did some work around the idea of collecting examples of work that all visual and performing arts teachers could access and utilize in their classrooms. They reflected on the items that all of the teacher leaders from phase 1 had contributed to a Depository. After meeting in Google Hangout and building on ideas in a Google doc they determined that professional development was needed on what was meant by “quality”. Hence, on April 19 the day was devoted to the topic.


Facilitator Wendy Cohen who had worked with the MDOE in 1997 as the national consultant on the Maine Learning Results, returned to help guide the work. The work centered around the following questions:

  • What do we already know, understand, and do related to high quality arts assessment?
  • What more can we learn?
  • What do we agree are high quality criteria for arts lessons and assessments? What criteria will MAAI commit to using together?
  • How do we provide feedback that supports reflection and growth in our collaborative work?


Throughout the day there was plenty of discussion around all of the questions and the pre-reading assignments of articles, chapters in books, and review of websites helped guide segments of the day as well.

Below are some of the items that participants found useful from the day for their own teaching practices:

  • I’m excited by having a framework to work from in developing meta-rubrics for depository and future work for MAAI
  • Continue the development of assessment partnership between teacher and student
  • Creating a deeper understanding on the part of the student for the importance of assessment
  • I am going to take away the idea to make sure i put my own rubrics and assessments through some of the best practice filters
  • Discussions are invaluable with colleagues
  • Knowledge of creating rubrics of high quality and curiosity for Cornerstone rubrics
  • Being part of a larger whole was the most important part of today. I found it useful to talk/debate/discuss differing viewpoints, opinions, and understandings. I am taking with me a sense that there are colleagues out there who I can network with and that we share and informed opinion about arts assessment.  And of course there is more material on assessment out there to read than I can imagine.


A great deal was accomplished and at the end of the day it was clear what needs to happen next to continue to collaborate and build on the work during phase 3 of the MAAI.

If you’d like to see a short video of the professional development opportunity please click here. If you are interested in participating in phase 3 please send me an email at



MLTI Student Conference

April 28, 2013

Thursday, May 16 – UMaine campus

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Registration remains open for the 10th Annual MLTI Student Conference.

Growing student aspirations and preparation for post-secondary education playing a bigger and bigger role in every Maine middle and high school’s work. Because of this we wanted to be sure everyone is aware of some powerful opportunities for participating students at this year’s MLTI Student Conference.

While the presence of the Conference on the UMaine Orono campus has always been a big deal, this year is going to be bigger than ever.

UMaine is preparing to welcome the MLTI to Orono in a whole new way – it will be fun and engaging, and will help your students begin to see themselves as college students in their years after high school graduation. You’ll want your students to take advantage of the opportunities on this great day.

This year’s participants will have a chance to meet and talk to representatives from across the UMaine colleges as well as student athletes and members of the UMaine Ambassadors – current students who know how to relate to young people who are starting to think about their education beyond K-12. Admissions reps will also be on hand if students want more details about the application process.

Your students will also be able to learn more about Academ-e, “The first early college distance education program in Maine, the University of Maine Academ-e offers courses for university credit to Maine high school juniors and seniors through internet-based “online” technologies.”

So don’t wait – even with 700 seats filled, there is still room for you and your students to participate in the 10th Annual MLTI Student Conference at UMaine.

This exciting technology focused day just got more exciting – with increased opportunities to introduce your students to the power of post-secondary education.

We look forward to seeing you in Orono on May 16th.


Haystack GATEWAY

April 27, 2013

From the Director, Stuart Kestenbaum

imagesI absolutely love getting the Gateway Newsletter from Haystack Mountain School of Crafts located in Deer Isle, Maine. My favorite part is reading the segment on the front page called From the Director. Stuart Kestenbaum is the director and has been at the school for several years now. He is an accomplished writer and when I read his From the Director segment I am “there” at Haystack. Stu’s gift of writing helps me smell, taste, feel, hear and imagine whatever he is describing.

When I arrived home today I found the Gateway in my mailbox and before I even took my coat off I stood in the kitchen reading his message. For those of you who have been to Haystack I am sure you will easily picture his words. For those of you who have not been so fortunate, I am guessing his piece will provide you with the images he describes.

Thank you to Stu for permission to re-print his message below. Many of Stu’s columns, along with some other writing in creativity, have been collected in one book called The View from Here: Craft, Community, and Creative Process, published last year from Brynmorgen Press.

Spring 2013

Once upon a time there were pay phones. You could drop a dime in the slot to make a local call and talk as long as your wanted, or with a pocket full of change you could talk long distance, with the operator coming on from time to time to tell you how much the next few minutes would cost. You could make collect calls, which wouldn’t cost you anything. If you were a savvy phone user, you could call home collect, the operator would announce your name and your parents could refuse the charges, and know for free that you had arrived safely at a distant location.

In those golden days of the landline, the pay phone was everywhere—gas stations, restaurants, movies, hospitals, and on street corners.  Some had glass bi-fold doors—I think there is still one at Moody’s diner in Waldoboro—where you could be in an intimate space of quiet conversation while the world bustled outside.

Pay phones witnessed heartbreaks and celebration, arrivals and departures. They were an essential way to communicate. Haystack used to have two pay phones—one in the dining room and one in a handmade booth on the main deck, built of spruce siding with a cedar shingled roof. The word “Confessional” is carved on the door.  The Confessional is right next to the office and without intending to, you might sometimes hear the caller’s description of the dinner menu, studio work, or life with roommates.

Other than writing letters or cards, those two phones were the only way to communicate with friends and family. We would even ask people to limit their calls so everyone could have a turn, and you could often hear the phones ring—real bells not a ringtone—at meals.

Times change. In Maine, New England Telephone became NYNEX, which became Verizon. The mobile phone arrived. Verizon sold its Northern New England landline business to a company called Fairpoint. A few years ago, Fairpoint informed us that since we weren’t generating enough income for them from the phone in the dining room, we would have to pay a very large monthly fee. So the phone was removed. You can still see its ghostly imprint on the wall.

Last fall Fairpoint jettisoned its no longer paying for itself pay phone business, selling it to another company, which informed us that they wanted us to pay another exorbitant fee for the remaining phone—the Confessional. We refused, and sometime this spring the phone will be removed. The building will remain—I think of it as our own shrine to communication. Perhaps people with the urge to talk on the cell phones can sit in there and talk, or just quietly confess to no one.

Now we can communicate in so many ways—talk, text, email, facebook and tweet.  Even with our slow internet on an island in Maine, information moves pretty quickly and constantly too. Of course quick isn’t always what we’re after, especially when it’s coupled with constantly. At Haystack we have the rare opportunity to disconnect. We can disconnect from the part of our lives that is sometimes swirling around us with more information than we can process, and re-connect with another part of ourselves.  It’s the part that’s not skimming the surface, but diving deeper, it’s the part with the questions and other answers. It’s the part that has been waiting for us to call.

Stuart Kestenbaum



Gray-New Gloucester High School Art Exhibit

April 26, 2013

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Camden Hills Travel to VA

April 25, 2013

Camden Hills Receives High Marks at Music Festivals

Virginia Beach trophiesOn April 3rd, 140 Camden Hills Regional High School Band and Chorus students and 14 chaperones boarded three Cyr coaches to travel to Virginia Beach to take part in the Fiesta-val Music Competition.  Despite the 17 hour bus ride, the students were excited to have the chance to sing and play at a National music festival.  A last minute change in plans by the Fiesta-val company to change the festival location from Virginia Beach to Williamsburg, actually became a boon for the ensembles; as they were able to also take part in a concurrent music festival in Williamsburg, hosted by Heritage festivals.

Friday, April 5th began with a 6:30 AM departure for one bus load of students.  The CHRHS Chamber Singers and Women’s Choir, plus a few loyal supporters, climbed on board for the lengthy ride to Williamsburg to sing before a panel of three judges at the historic Kimball Theater.  While there, the students had a chance to hear choirs from other schools, with fine performances by Lakeland High School from northern New Jersey.  The choral ensembles finished their performing and quickly boarded the bus, with some students changing outfits into Band uniforms, in order to meet the other two buses of students at WarHill High School for the Fiesta-val portion of the day.

The CHRHS Jazz Band performed first, and students quickly grabbed gear and instruments from beneath the bus in their efforts to set up the Jazz Band in time for their warm up and competition performance.  The schedule continued with the CHRHS Concert Band performance, followed by the three CHRHS chorus ensembles: Chorale, Women’s Choir, and Chamber Singers.  Lunch was a dizzying dance of schedules in between the performances, with some students changing outfits from Band uniform to Choral formal wear.

Finally the last leg of the full performance day was near: three buses were scheduled to travel to Heritage High School in Newport News, VA for the Concert and Jazz Band Heritage Festival performances.  Unfortunately, it was at that time that a major snag hit the stream-lined plans.  One bus broke down, refusing to move from the War Hill HS parking lot.  Suddenly, students, instruments, and chaperones were juggled to allow all instrumental students and gear to load on to two buses to quickly travel to the next performance destination.

While the busload of students left behind relaxed in the parking lot, another unforeseen calamity occurred. A major traffic emergency stalled the two functioning buses for over an hour on the freeway- delaying the performance times of the two CHRHS instrumental ensembles. Finally, with determination and goodwill by all; the stranded students were picked up and the 140 students, instruments, and chaperones squeezed onto two buses to make the last leg of the journey back to the hotel in Virginia Beach.

On Saturday, the students had a chance to relax and ride at Busch Gardens and the day culminated in two Award ceremonies. At the Fiesta-val Award Ceremony, schools were graded on a national scale of standards with awards of  Superior, Excellent, Good and Fair.  We are happy to say that Camden Hills students swept the awards:  The CHRHS Chamber Singers, Women’s Choir and Chorale received Superior awards and the CHRHS Concert Band and Jazz Band received Excellent Awards with the Concert Band being only a tenth of a point away from a Superior Award.  Special recognition was given to the Jazz Band as they received the “Outstanding Brass Section Award.”  Judges’ Commendation Awards were given to four individuals: Rebekah Johnson, soprano; Aidan Kaczynski, tenor; Alex Crans, tuba and Camilla Walker, French horn.  The Chorale received a Champion award in their category, and the Concert and Jazz Bands swept the competition with 1st place awards, the Grand Champion Award, and a Highly Distinguished Conductor Award to Nancy Rowe.

Later in the evening, the Heritage Festival Awards were announced. Again, CHRHS proved that they could perform well, even under the pressure of a long and arduous day. The CHRHS Women’s Choir and Chamber Singers both received Gold Awards with Women’s Choir placing 2nd and Chamber Singers placing 1st. Aidan Kaczynski was again recognized for his solo with a Maestro Award. Both chorale ensembles received invitations to next year’s Heritage Festivals of Gold and Carnegie Hall. The CHRHS Concert and Jazz Bands received Silver Awards, with the Jazz Band receiving special recognition; and Orion Krause received the Maestro Award for his solo in “Mr. G. K.”

The musical travelers arrived safely home on Sunday, April 7th, with many thanks to the chaperones and the bus drivers. Ms. Rowe and Mrs. Murphy would like to thank the Five Town Community for their support of the Band and Chorus students.


In Today’s News

April 24, 2013

350 students enter

The Bangor Daily News included an article today written by Jen Boggs that describes how students created artwork to inspire recycling. The first-ever CLYNK for Art School competition. The 6 winners were announced and some of their artwork was included in the article. Please click here for the article.




Honoring Stephanie Leonard

April 24, 2013

Outstanding Service to the Profession

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Kal introducing Stephanie to the guests

At a ceremony held recently at the University of Maine Museum of Art Stephanie Leonard was honored for her years of dedication and received the Outstanding Service to the Profession award and was presented by the Maine Art Education Association. Stephanie was nominated by Kal Elmore and included the following in Stephanie’s nomination:

“…. Stephanie has always understood the need to reach out to students, parents, classroom teachers, art teachers, and community members to help support arts education. She is always there with an idea, a push in the right direction, and that special little ‘je ne sais quoi’ when you need it. Do you need a marker? She has it? A theme idea? She has it. A poster of the president? She has it.

fran with mona steph

Colleague and friend Fran Clukey holds “mona steph”

…she is an amazing collector of all things Mona! Appropriation is her middle name.
…Stephanie is an inspiring art educator. She has spent 14 years in the classroom and is always advocating for programs and kids. No matter where she is she finds ideas for art projects. She is constantly finding ideas for themes, materials for projects, and suggestions for ways to promote art.

Stephanie has experience in instruction at all educational levels, educational leadership, teacher supervision and development of curriculum. She is also the administrator of a family foundation with experience in community relations, philanthropy, and board management
Stephanie is a friend, ally, tireless advocate and enthusiastic supporter of the visual arts. “


Stephanie with sister-in-law and Brewer High School art teacher Lori Spruce


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Jane Kirton

April 23, 2013

This is the 28th in a series of blog posts telling arts teacher’s stories. The first 19 were told last year by the phase I Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leaders. The series continues with the stories from the phase II teacher leaders. These posts contain a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read educators stories and to learn from others.

photoJane Kirton teaches chorus, keyboarding, and introduction to music at Sanford High School where she has been for 12 years. She is the music director for musicals, helps with Sophomore Awareness, and graduation activities.  Outside of school Jane is the music director at the North Parish Congregational Church and a facilitator for The Center For Grieving Children at the Southern site.

What do you like best about being a music educator?

The best part of my job is being able to touch the souls’ of all my students! Most of the time, the students take my classes have chosen to take them, therefore, they want to be in the class. This makes for an atmosphere of warmth and comfort which is conducive to learning. We, as arts educators, are able to reach some students whom others can’t, this is our most valuable strength.  I tell my students that we’re going to learn a lot about life as well as music in our class!

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1.  Compassion – we must have and show compassion to all our students.
  2. Versatility – being able to teach something a number of ways to reach all types of learners.
  3. Connection/be present – we must make a connection with each student we teach, show them that we care and that they are valued. Adding a bit of humor and telling them my story are two of my strengths.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

There have been times when I have struggled with assessment especially written assessments. I want to be sure that my assessments are applicable to what I teach especially in chorus class. Being a performance based class, writing shouldn’t be the primary assessment. I have worked hard to create a variety of ways to assess – vocally and writing that is pertinent to what we do.  I am always searching for new ideas and ways to assess.

 What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

The benefits of becoming involved in the MAAI have been wonderful. From the network of new colleagues to the endless possibilities of creativity – wow! I have found that this initiative has put me in the zone so to speak. I have totally reworked the way I teach my keyboarding class and as a result, word is spreading and more students want to take the class than what I can accommodate! I look forward to continue to enhance my other classes. I am anxious to see what year three holds for us.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am proud that I went back to school at the age of 40 to get my degree in music education! I am proud when I see students graduate from high school and college with a music degree. I am blessed with wonderful students – not just the ones that go to college. I believe in not only teaching music but I teach about life! Making connections with my students while at SHS is very important to me.  Many of my former students stay in touch and visit our class often. I know I have made a difference in my students’ lives when they continue to come back and visit.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

Time is always a factor! I could spend hours and hours doing what I do. I believe right now my biggest stumbling block is our school schedule. My numbers are sadly dwindling as students cannot fit music classes into their schedule. I also dream of a performing chorus in the elementary schools which we don’t have. I believe that a love for singing must start early on. Kids need to feel singing in their bones and love it in order to continue on at the upper levels. Our children have so many options in their lives today, it’s hard for them to choose and do it all.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Despite low numbers, the sound of my chorus continues to be very good. I know this comes directly from the result of teaching. Time spent on music literacy is invaluable! The connections that I make with my students is very important to me. I work hard to create an atmosphere of camaraderie and acceptance in my classes which makes for a peaceful working environment. Through this we are able to make beautiful (bel canto) singing!  Helping a student in need is very important to me.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

As one of my college professors told me . . . “Be the one to make a difference in the student’s life who struggles to thrive in other classes and with other teachers.” I have a quote on my bulletin board in my office that I made up several years ago . . . “Remember, you don’t necessarily know what the person next to you went through last night or before school today . . .”  I believe, as an educator, yes you need to know your content and know it well but it is also extremely important that we care for our students!

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

I would first pay off my children’s college debt for them. Pay off our mortgage. Put money away for my grandchildren’s college education. Buy some recording equipment for my class at school and at church.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

No regrets! I made that decision when I turned 40 and went back to school!!! Oh don’t get me wrong, there are some things I WISH I could do such as return to school and perhaps become a counselor but frankly, I’m happy doing what I am doing! I love touching the lives of my students!  Remember, lasting friends are made through music!

Thank you for telling your story Jane!


State Arts Education Conference

April 22, 2013


State Arts Education Conference


Thursday, October 24, 2013

UMaine, Orono

Collins Center for the Arts

This is the biannual statewide arts education conference and will cost $75.00 which includes lunch and great workshops! The one-day conference will precede the two-day Maine Arts Commission conference on October 25 and 26:

The Maine International Conference on Arts and Culture:

Strengthen the Core, 2013

More details to follow however, you can purchase your ticket at the Collins Box office or online at


Statewide conference, Samoset, 2007


The Arts Connect Conference, Point Lookout, 2009


ARTS teachers lead the Way….Arts Assessment for Learning Conference, USM, 2011

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