Archive for April 2nd, 2013


Another Teacher’s Story: Gloria Hewett

April 2, 2013

This is the 25th 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.

GloriaGloria Hewett has been teaching art for 24 years. For the past 13 years she has taught middle school art at Mount View Middle School in Thorndike. Gloria works with about 380 students during the school year in five, seven week rotations. She has 4 classes a day and sees her students every day for 7 weeks. She has a beautiful, new art room. In Gloria’s words: “It’s the best room I’ve ever had and I’m very happy here.
When I look back at my teaching career I realize how far I’ve journeyed as a person and a teacher. I started out my teaching career in Richford, Vermont, one mile from the Canadian border in a small, poor high school. I had an L shaped room with one tiny window in the back that I could barely fit through if there was an emergency. My room was under the gym and adjacent to the shop on one side and the band room on the other and with no sound proofing. I had daily headaches from no ventilation and the noise. My principal never came to my room to see how I was doing, not even once. I taught there for two years and determined that I needed to go back to school to get my masters degree and for the next two years I studied at the University of Arizona in Tucson.”

What do you like best about being an art educator?

Perhaps the thing I like best about teaching art is being surrounded every day by the energy of students learning about art, in whatever form that takes.  I like thinking that I’m bringing to my rural students an awareness of the possibilities of art within their lives.  I believe that a good teacher is paramount to a successful art education.  I also believe that students have success when they feel honored and respected as individuals.  Administrative support is also primary to the success of an art program and I have that in my district and within my building.

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

I have been assessing student work for my entire teaching career although it has changed drastically from my first year as a teacher to the way I assess student work now. My students are involved in creating criteria for their work and they also help to assess their own work. Because students are involved it helps them to understand their learning and their progress more fully. I find it makes my part in the assessment process more comfortable because students are a part of it, it’s no longer me alone who determines their progress and their success.

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

By being a part of the Arts Assessment Initiative I have looked more closely at what I do as an art teacher, both how I teach and how I assess. Assessment is not just about assessing but about how to make teaching better for students. I see assessment from the viewpoint of a student much differently now and that has helped me to be a more informed teacher. I’ve also learned much from working with my arts peers and gained a lot of confidence and support as part of the initiative. We, as arts teachers, work in such a bubble sometimes that we forget the bigger picture and working with other arts teachers over this last year has given me new perspective and new energy to continue to grow as a teacher.  It has also given me the impetus to continue to stay current within my field and to try to spread that growth within my own district.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’m proud of the fact that I am still an energetic and involved teacher, that I create excitement about art for many of my students and that I still love my job and working with students. I believe that in the end it all comes down to the positive impact that we have on students and I believe I still have that. I do find that sometimes scheduling creates problems for me to do my best work.  As teachers we end up working around the needs of the institution and the time frames that drive that institution. We work around lunch and the high school and elementary schedule because we are in one building. We have many factors that need to be taken into account and sometimes it feels as though the schedule is more important than the needs of students.  And time, time is always an issue, probably for all teachers everywhere. Time to meet with colleagues, time to plan, time to reflect, time to help students stay on track, and time to relax.

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

I feel that one of the reasons I have such good administrative and community support is because people do recognize my hard work and my true caring for my students and my program. I think people see that I put in a lot of time and effort to make my program successful. If I were to look ahead into the future I would advise young teachers to stay current in their field and to work toward things that benefit all students and not just the gifted few. I would suggest teachers create a good relationship with their administrators and community by having art shows and showing the public what happens in their programs.

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

If I had lots of money to spend I would create permanent display areas for both two dimensional and three dimensional art within the lobbies of all the schools within my district. I would add an art room to each of the elementary schools in my district so the art teachers didn’t have to teach from a cart. I would add another art teacher to our high school so our students had more choices during the day to take art. I would make it possible for every student in middle school to visit an art museum at least once. I would put chorus and band back into our elementary music programs. I would also add a theater program and a dance program.

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

I can imagine myself at 94 being just as full of energy and excitement as I am now. I can see myself still making art and even being involved with young people in some capacity. I can see my love of art being a part of my life even at 94, it’s the one thread that has remained constant since I was a little girl and I don’t see that changing. Regret my life and what I’ve done? Never. I will always strive to be the best that I can be, that will never change.

Thank you for sharing your story Gloria!

%d bloggers like this: