You Can Fly!

October 8, 2013

My first trip in a float plane

DSCN4521On Sunday I did something that has been on my personal “to do” list for quite some time. To go for a ride in a float (or sea) plane. Not only was it VERY amazing but the weather was perfect! I was up at Libby Camps in the North Maine woods. I’ve written about Libby’s before, my trip to cut ice in the winter of January 2011 was a weekend that I remember fondly. When Matt Libby Sr. said he was going up with one of the Guides to photo the towers on top of some of the mountains close by and invited me to go along, I was very excited! We left at about 7:30 with the early light for best picture-taking conditions.

DSCN4522We no sooner left Madawaska Lake where the Libby camps are located and I asked what kind of a day it was for flying. Matt’s reply was immediate: “They don’t get any better than this”. All I could think of was how fortunate I was to have this special opportunity. Matt has flown thousands of times but he still marvels at the beauty and the land that seems to go on forever. His comments included “this would be a pretty shot with the clouds in the background” “look how neat this tower is” “this camp sits on the prettiest pond”.

Matt pointed out and named the mountains, including Katahdin, the ponds, the Allagash River Waterway, and several of the out camps that Matt and Ellen own on leased property. Matt Jr. and his wife Jessica own and manage the base camp. I love going to Libby Camps for several reasons. One of them is the “culture” that the Libby family is continuously working to build and maintain. In many ways it takes as much time as the maintenance on the buildings, trails, planes, wood piles, ice and so many other continuous tasks that need attention. Many of them before the snow flies.

DSCN4504This is not unlike an arts classroom. The relationships that each of you have with your students is essential and it is based on what to teach, what should be taught in 2013, how it is taught, and understanding what students are learning. There are so many basic components to  teaching; materials, classroom equipment, arrangement of the furniture, storage, lighting, and on and on. And then we have standards, curriculum, assessment, etc. But is anything more important than the culture of the classroom? When everything is lined up and in place it is like a perfect morning flying in the north country. You know that you are “flying”! It doesn’t get any better! Not only are you flying as a teacher but kids are flying as well! Their learning is evident through the works of art they produce and how they articulate their learning through words, questions, and desire to learn more.

DSCN4549How do we put this all together when often arts teachers are islands in their schools? Where do you turn for assistance. Some of you teach in K-12 systems and you are the only art and/or music teacher. Fortunately, the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative has now 52 teacher leaders. And, on October 24th 35 of them will be offering workshops and sharing their knowledge and best practices. I hope you will plan on joining us at UMaine, Orono, Collins Center that day for opportunities to learn. Along with the 35 workshops, Lynn Tuttle from the Arizona Department of Education will be sharing the latest information on the National Core Arts Standards. To register please click here https://mainearts.maine.gov/Pages/Media-and-Performing/Conference-Register#.

Please note: The National Core Arts Standards high school draft has been released for public review until October 21. You can access the draft at http://nccas.wikispaces.com/.

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