Archive for April 16th, 2013


In Today’s News

April 16, 2013

Screen saver student

In today’s Oxford Hills Sun Journal reporter Eileen Adams highlights the accomplishments of Nicholas Johnson whose artwork was selected for the MLTI 2013-14 screen saver. You can read the article and learn more about Nicholas’ passion for the visual and performing arts by clicking here. The image he created that was selected is included in this blog post.



Another Teacher’s Story: Samantha Orchard

April 16, 2013

This is the 27th 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.

IMG_2916Samantha Orchard is in her 4th year teaching Visual Art to students in grades 9-12 at Woodland Jr/Sr High School in Baileyville. She has 43 students spread out across General Art, Advanced Art, Photoshop, and Yearbook classes.

 What do you like best about being a music/art/drama/dance educator?

 The best thing about being a high school art teacher is to see teenagers solve problems or develop creative solutions on their own. Some students need a little prodding, but they are at least willing to be pushed in a more independent direction.

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

  • Support for what is done in your classroom from other teachers, the    administration, and the parents of students
  • Buy-in on the part of the students – they have to feel that what they’re learning and creating is worthwhile
  • Time for planning, collaboration, and sharing ideas with other educators in your own district and around the state

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

Assessment for me is a great tool to gauge how clearly criteria and goals for a particular project are communicated. My students for the most part have a thorough enough understanding of the relationship between the rubric and the criteria for a given assignment to accurately gauge their products and answer for themselves the persistent question of “Is it done yet?”

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

Being able to take in ideas and different ways of looking at assessment has been one of the main benefits of being involved with the MAAI for me. Having other teachers who work with the same content and the same grade level to bounce ideas off of has also been great.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Most recently I’m proud that I was able to engage the faculty at my school in a meaningful and serious discussion about arts assessment. I presented my workshop about rubrics at a staff meeting and was really pleased about the discussions that developed out of the presentation. I was also proud of how it really seemed to prove that art is just as rigorous as the core classes to the non-believers.

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

I just need more hours in a day. Or less time doing mundane things like sleeping, eating, driving, etc.

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 developed a safe, productive, positive work environment in the art room and computer lab. It may sound trivial, but being able to turn your back on students to write on the board or to really focus one-on-one with a student as needed and not have to worry about what’s going on outside of your peripheral vision is no small thing. The expectation for behavior and materials handling has been set and is respected by students – I don’t even have to fret about what is happening to my classroom on days when I’m out!

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

Speak up and share what you do with other teachers! It can be a revelation for all parties involved.

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

With $500,000 I would pay off my student loans, buy a better vehicle, go on vacation, and purchase DSLR cameras and graphic design software for the digital arts classes.

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

I can’t imagine any great regrets.

Thank you Samantha for telling your story!



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