Archive for November, 2013


Maine Fiberarts Exhibit

November 30, 2013

Quilted Assemblages by 2 Artistis on View at Maine Fiberarts

Exhibition: November 8 – December 31, 2013
Holiday Open House & Sale: December 6 & 7, 2013

Christine Macchi, Executive Director
Maine Fiberarts, 13 Main Street, Topsham, ME 04086

Gilbert-Talbot_CDM3811Bold and painterly quilted wall assemblages by artists Dr. Donald Talbot of Lisbon Falls and Beatrice Gilbert of North Yarmouth are on display until December 31, 2013 at Maine Fiberarts’ Gallery, 13 Main Street, Topsham. The exhibition entitled “Quilted Assemblages: Beatrice Gilbert & Dr. Donald  Talbot” represents new work by the artists. A Holiday Open House & Sale of members’ work also takes place December 6 (10 a.m.-8 p.m.) and December 7 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.), when Beatrice Gilbert will demonstrate quilting and the public is invited to attend.

Dr. Talbot’s new body of work entitled, “Based on Beverly: A Post-mortem Creative Collaboration” was created while on sabbatical leave from Mount Aloysius College, Cresson, Pennsylvania where he has served as Visual Arts Program Coordinator and Associate Professor of English and Fine Arts since 2004. His sources of inspiration for this new work were the journals and sketchbooks of his good friend and teacher, the late Beverly J. Semmens, Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati, who died in 2010. Talbot met Semmens when he was accepted as a graduate student in her fibers program at the University of Cincinnati in 1997 and credits her as being one of the most influential mentors of his life.

Before her death in 2010, Semmens entrusted Talbot with a truly unique gift: her journals and sketchbooks dating back to 1954—almost 60 years of her creative explorations and personal life preserved in words and sketches. Like Talbot, Semmens had degrees both in English and in fine art and was passionate about both. Her journals and sketchbooks reveal a complex and multi-talented woman who was both very much of her time while, in many ways, being very much ahead of it.

During summer 2011, Talbot started studying Semmens’ more than half-century of thumbnail sketches. Like most artists, Semmens sketched more ideas than she actually executed in finished projects. Some art pieces were started and abandoned. Others were never attempted. A few were taken to completion. Talbot began to wonder what it would be like to use Semmens’ sketches as the starting point for his own creative work.

Talbot’s new body of work has been a true collaborative effort. His goal was to reinterpret Semmens’ ideas—to use them as starting points for his own new work—not to slavishly replicate her ideas/sketches. Consequently, Talbot learned about how Semmens thought and how she evolved as an artist by using her ideas to inform his work. In particular, Talbot learned about Semmens’ sophisticated use of quiet symmetry, her rhythmical repetition of shapes and motifs, and her balanced interplay of geometric and organic shapes.

According to fiber artist Beatrice Gilbert, her artwork has always been a reflection of a deep response to color. Gilbert uses unexpected layers and vibrant color to engage the viewer. For Gilbert, color is content. Simple in form, Gilbert’s work focuses on the drama that can come from playing with value, color, and contrast.

Gilbert’s home in North Yarmouth, Maine continues to provide a grounding that is essential and inspiring to her for blending art and life. The country setting and her earth-bound interests in family, gardening, raising sheep, and spinning wool provide an environment that inspires graceful simplicity in artwork. In addition to creating silk-stitched wall hangings, Gilbert also works in ceramics and in fiber, specializing in the use of luxury fibers—silk, alpaca, yak, and camel.

Gilbert notes that her artistic goal is “…to create beautiful pieces that enrich everyday life—to be lived with, not just looked at.” Since 1996, Gilbert’s art has been featured in over 60 galleries and shows nationwide.

Concurrent with this exhibition, Maine Fiberarts will host a Holiday Open House and Sale of members’ work on Friday, December 6 (10 a.m.-8 p.m.) and Saturday, December 7 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.). Festivities include: Beatrice Gilbert demonstrating quilting, Maine Fiberarts’ members demonstrating fiber techniques, Fiber Friday taking place (Dec. 6, 10-noon)—all surrounded by beautiful quilts. The exhibition and sale of members’ work remains on view through December 31. Gallery hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10-4; Saturday, 11-2. For more information, visit or call 207.721-0678.

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HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE & SALE of members’ work, December 6 (10 a.m.-8 p.m.) and December 7 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.). Also on view: “Quilted Assemblages by Dr. Donald Talbot and Beatrice Gilbert,” through December 31. Demonstrators, refreshments, textile gifts, and a beautiful exhibition of quilts make the Holiday Sale a great time to visit Maine Fiberarts, 13 Main Street, Topsham, ME  04086. For more information, 207-721-0678;


Creativity Crisis

November 29, 2013

Educators taking a stand

We know that creativity is essential in the 21st century and especially the workspace. I am beginning to believe if only people were more creative that we wouldn’t have the numerous problems that exist.

This article Educators combat “creativity crisis” in art instruction written by Ilana Kowarski certainly supports this notion. Published in (DA) District Administration, it is a terrific article that I recommend everyone read, take notes on, and incorporate into your “elevator speech”. That would be what you want to make sure you include when you are having a conversation with someone that you are trying to educate about how essential the arts are to a basic education for every student.

Please click here for the article.



November 28, 2013



For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night

For health and food,

For love and friends,

For everything thy goodness sends

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882

In last Sunday’s Audience section of the Maine Sunday Telegram in the Audience section there was an article written by Bob Keyes called A literary thanks: Maine writers reflect on what they’re thankful for this year. Each of the stories were wonderfully reflective and touched me in some way. The story contributed by Tess Gerritsen touched my heart. With permission I re-print it below for you to enjoy from the Maine Sunday Telegram at

If I had to write my own I am thankful for the work that Maine visual and performing arts teachers do each day to educate students that they may have the arts as part of their lives forever! Thank you for making the world a better place by being the absolute finest group of arts educators!

Tess’ story:

Twenty years ago, I found my passion in a Rockland coffee shop. I’d stopped in for coffee one evening at the Second Read, where a weekly Celtic jam session was under way. It was love at first tune! I’d played classical violin as a child, but I’d never heard music like this, jigs and reels and hornpipes that made me want to jump up and dance. This was music I could learn by ear, music meant to be played with others.

I went home, dusted off my old violin, and started learning the tunes. And through those tunes, I’ve found some of my dearest friends. On Maine’s darkest, coldest nights, you’ll find us fiddling away together in our homes or in coffee shops or bars. We share tunes the way cooks share recipes and writers share stories. We squabble over tempo and rhythm, and we always seem to forget the name of whatever it is we’re playing, because we’re older and grayer now and our memories are starting to slip a bit – even if the tunes stay with us. Some of us are darn good musicians, some of us are rank amateurs, but who cares? It’s the music that brought us together. And keeps us together.

One night at a recent jam session, I looked around the room at friends I’ve now known for decades. There was a woodworker and a boat builder, a doctor and a massage therapist. How thankful I am that music – and Maine – helped us find each other.

– Tess Gerritsen is best known for her medical and suspense books, including “The Surgeon,” “Vanish” and her latest, “Last to Die.”



November 27, 2013

Feedback is clear

IMG_3726The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative offered an all day Mega-regional workshop yesterday at the beautiful Ellsworth High School. Forty-four educators attended from surrounding and had the opportunity to spend the morning in two different workshops. The teacher leaders offered workshops on digital portfolios and the digital classroom, gifted and talented music programs, looking outside the school day to fulfill the high school arts requirement, the MLRs and music ensembles, reporting on student progress, student empowerment, and advocacy.

IMG_3709The two afternoon sessions were spent on technology and the Arts and proficiency. The focus for the proficiency session was on answering “what does proficiency look and sound like in the visual or performing arts classroom?” The conversation was very worthwhile. Some teachers left with more questions than answers. The visual art teachers worked in small groups to look at student work samples. Below are some of the questions included from the both visual and performing arts groups.

  • Does proficiency really include growth of the student over time?
  • How do we chart the artist growth through the process and not just the end result?
  • How can we use the data collection to make sure we hold teachers accountable for teaching the curriculum and therefore allowing the kids the opportunity to BE proficient?
  • How will students find the time to become proficient? If a student is continually not meeting they would always be behind.

Some of what the teachers learned:

  • Being clear with students what the standards are.
  • Recording students to demonstrate proficiency.
  • There are many aspects to showing proficiency.
  • That I am accomplishing more thank I realized but I need to create better documentation.

IMG_3713Thank you to those who attended and a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to the teacher leaders for providing workshops and leadership.

If you are interested in attended a future Mega-regional workshop there are three more scheduled during the school year along with several regional workshops. You can see the MAAI workshop opportunities by clicking here.




Ring and Beaudry Present at MPA Conference

November 26, 2013

Take Me To Your Leader: School and Community Leaders – YOU CAN support Arts Education in the 21st Century!

Last week Catherine Ring and Jeff Beaudry, leadership team members of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI), presented a workshop as part of the MAAI Regional workshops called Take Me To Your Leader: School and Community Leaders – YOU CAN support Arts Education in the 21st Century! at the Maine Principals Association conference at the Holiday Inn in Portland.

They provided a ton of resources that are available on a wiki at The workshop provided information on the Common Core and the Arts, research on the impact of arts education on test scores, the Arts and 21st century skills, tools for advocacy, and many other useful pieces of information.

The workshop description and information is below. Thanks to Catherine and Jeff for reaching out to help administrators expand their knowledge on Arts education and provide them with tools to communicate with others about how quality arts education is essential for every student!

Find out why supporting a strong arts education program in your school is absolutely essential, and how you can do it as we prepare for the future. This workshop will highlight:

  • The Role of the Arts in Learning – supported by the research
  • How Maine Arts Educators are Leading the Way
  • Update on Current Arts Education Data in Maine
  • Arts Connections to the Common Core State Standards
  • Examples of Arts-Infused Schools
  • Strategies you can use to strengthen your school’s emphasis on the Arts

PK-12 School Administrators

Jeff Beaudry Associate Professor, Educational Leadership, USM

Catherine Ring Executive Director, New England Institute for Teacher Education

To learn more about the Regional workshops please click here.


Friends of the Arts

November 25, 2013


Screen shot 2013-11-22 at 9.10.34 PMScreen shot 2013-11-22 at 9.11.12 PMScreen shot 2013-11-22 at 9.11.38 PM



November 24, 2013

The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

puzzled play 6The Camden-Rockport Middle School, under the direction of Ellen Curtis, presented “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”.  One of the characters in the play is Thunderbolt, an old but impressive horse. In pre-production talks, the tech director, Erma Colvin showed the director footage from “Warhorse” on Broadway. “Warhorse” is a play about the horses used in World War I. The horses were portrayed by life-size puppets, the creation of Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones,  founders of the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa. Ellen Curtis suggested that the CRMS tech crew make a life-size puppet modeled after Joey from “Warhorse”. After thinking that was impossible, they both agreed, “Why not!”

thunderbolt 2The creation of Thunderbolt began with chicken wire and flexible plumbing tubing, The CRMS Tech crew made the head out of paper mache and designed the moving tail mechanism. They then became the puppeteers. One student was the horse wrangler. Having had horse experience, she taught the puppeteers to do the proper horse gait ( created with coconut shells, of course) and designed the halter for Thunderbolt to wear. The horse puppet is controlled by two people in the body, moving the front legs, back legs and the tail, and one person outside the body controlling the head.

Thunderbolt was a huge success. Besides from his appearance in “Jumping Frog”, Thunderbolt has made guest appearances at the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum, the Camden Mini-Maker Faire and this fall’s National Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration at CRMS.

thunderbolt mini maker fair


Call for Presenters

November 23, 2013

IEEE, pronounced “Eye-triple-E,” stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Screen shot 2013-11-23 at 9.02.49 AMThe 4th IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC 2014), Friend Center at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, March 8, 2014.

We welcome submissions for the 4th IEEE Integrated STEM Education Conference (ISEC 2014), to be held Saturday, March 8, 2014 at Friend Center, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.

This year’s theme is Designing Pathways to STEM Success.  While all papers on methods of and/or experience with integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education are welcome, we are very
interested in papers on STEaM (STEM + art) initiatives that have resulted in student recruitment and retention in STEM, especially among students from underrepresented populations in the disciplines. We are also interested in hearing from all parties involved in STEM education, including students and parents concerning their experiences practices.

Please submit a full paper of 4 to 6 pages for review by 11:59 pm Sunday, January 12, 2014.  Your paper must not have been published or submitted for publication elsewhere.  Please see the author’s kit, available at, for format information and template. Acceptances will be sent no later than Sunday, February 3, 2014. The deadline for submitting a revised paper is Sunday, February 24, 2014. All accepted
papers will be presented at the conference and included in the conference proceedings, which will be submitted for publication in IEEE Xplore.

ISEC 2014 is associated with the Trenton Computer Festival, to be held on Saturday, March 15, 2014 and with the Information Technology Professional Conference, co-located with TCF Friday and Saturday, March 14 – 15, 2014.
Information on these conferences is available at and  You are also encouraged to submit abstracts to these conferences.

ISEC 2014 is sponsored by the IEEE Princeton / Central Jersey Section, IEEE Region 1, and the IEEE Education Society.

Please see our web site for the full CFP, including fee schedules.  Contact for more information.  We look forward to your participation in ISEC 2014!


Why Did YOU Become a Teacher?

November 22, 2013

Teacher in a Strange Land

This is being re-posted from the blog called Teacher in a Strange Land that is written by Nancy Flanagan who spent 30 years in a K-12 music classroom in Hartland, Mich, she was named Michigan Teacher of the Year in 1993 and is National Board-certified. This is not the first blog post that I have re-posted from her site. I was especially drawn to the title of the post Why Did You Become a Teacher? and incredibly moved by the words of Anthony Mullen, the National Teacher of the Year in 2009 who returned to his classroom at the end of 09. You can get to the original blog post by clicking here. I hope it gives you a chance to pause and ask yourself why you teach.

Screen shot 2013-11-22 at 1.30.38 PMI’m pleased to share a guest column by Anthony Mullen, National Teacher of the Year 2009, whom I’m honored to call a friend.

In the spring of 2009 I was invited to the White House by the president of the United States to receive my nation’s highest teaching honor. President Obama would greet me in the Oval Office and later hold a formal press conference in the Rose Garden, officially naming me the National Teacher of the Year in front of an assembly of fellow state teachers of the year, family and friends, and a busy group of national and international journalists holding pens, cameras and microphones. This professional accolade is designed to be the pinnacle of all teacher awards, and it provided me more than my fair share of fame for over one year.

The National Teacher of the Year is an ambassadorial role in which the recipient advocates for students and the teaching profession by speaking at over 150 engagements in every state and a few foreign nations. The task can be grueling because all these speaking engagements are jammed into a one year time period, but planes, trains and automobiles helped me travel over 200,000 miles to reach every podium.

But a podium and spotlights could not replace where I truly belonged, in my classroom mentoring and teaching teenagers afflicted with acute emotional and learning disabilities. Stripped of all the accolades I received while performing my duty as National Teacher of the Year, I am now seen for who I am, a classroom teacher.

Why did I become a teacher? It’s a good question and one not easily answered unless clichés are randomly thrown about cocktail hour. Teaching is an honorable profession. Teachers make a difference in the lives of children. I love children. All or some of these reasons can apply to most teachers, but they are superficial and do not answer a very complex and personal question.

Many professions are honorable and help make a difference in the lives of children. And with the exception of a few forest dwellers in Grimm fairy tales, most people love children. I became a teacher because mostly lousy teachers taught me, and I wanted to work with teenagers who mirrored my life and might benefit from an adult who once walked in their leaden footsteps.

Too many young people have a Rosebud moment when childhood ends abruptly and their life is forever changed. A home becomes a house, and love and tenderness are replaced with sorrow, pain and regret. My Rosebud moment occurred when I was a nine-year-old boy and came home to find my mother lying dead on the kitchen floor. The doctors said her brain bled and she died painlessly. Her name was Sarah and she was born in Scotland, and, coincidentally, her parents died when she was nine years old. So she was raised in a bleak orphanage and later came to America to start a family and to seek salvation from her Rosebud moment.

The Scots are a stoic people who mourn in silence and pretend the dead never lived. I grew up never seeing a picture of my mother or learning about her brief life. I went to school and listened to teachers remind students to “have their mothers sign their homework” or ask for “a mother to volunteer for such and such a committee” or to bring in some baked goods for a cake sale. I wanted to remind my teachers that I had no mother and I did not know how to bake a cake. What did I learn? Empathy. I teach because I feel empathy for children and teenagers who lost the greatest of all love too young.

My father tried his best to raise two boys but failed miserably. He quickly remarried and sent my brother and me to live far away in upstate New York with a stepmother who was still angry that a house had fallen on her sister. My stepmother was physically and emotionally abusive, and she would not cook dinner for my brother and me unless we acquiesced to all her insufferable demands. So I learned how to cook TV dinners and enjoyed the small brownie treat tucked squarely at the end of the foil dish. What did I learn? Self-reliance. I teach because I want troubled teenagers to learn how to overcome adversity.

My father divorced my stepmother after two years of marriage and the sight of two bruised young boys.  I returned to my old NYC neighborhood and friends, and lived with my grandmother in a one-room apartment. My brother and I slept on a couch, feet to face, and yes, teenage boys’ feet smell. Life was taking a turn for the better and then my grandmother died in her sleep. I tried to wake her but she was cold and staring blankly at the ceiling. I was 16 years old and had to say goodbye to a woman who never learned how to read or write but had the wisdom of a sage. What did I learn? Life is unpredictable.

I teach because I want my students to know that life is about change, some good and some bad, but always changing. After my grandmother died I lived with my father, and once again my life was changing for the better. I had many friends, shared a bedroom with my brother, and had a part-time job after school. I was saving for a used car because I was growing restless and needed to see the world outside my neighborhood. I felt an urge to fly but settled for four rubber wheels. And once again change intervened and my father became sick. He died when I was 20. What did I learn? Perseverance. I teach because I want to instill perseverance in my students.

I worked in a paint factory and later the New York City Police Department. I rose through the ranks and became an inspector. I was awarded some of the police department’s highest medals and inducted into the NYPD Honor Legion. But such accolades mean little when every day I witnessed scores of young people handcuffed and taken to jail because they did not understand the value of empathy for others, perseverance in the face of adversity, or self-reliance. These young people did not understand that origin is not destiny and consequently exchanged a future for a six by eight prison cell.

One day a young teenage girl stood on top of a fire escape and threatened to jump. The six-story fall would have killed her, and some onlookers were encouraging her to jump. I crawled through a small window and stood near her on the fire escape. I told her that she was young and beautiful and had many people who loved her. I fed her clichés she was not willing to swallow. And then she jumped.

I’m not quite sure what happened next but I leapt at her and managed to grab her left arm. Her weight started to pull me over the fire escape and I was losing my grip. And then I saw her eyes and she looked at me. She was frightened and did not want to die. I prayed for strength because I did not want to be the last person she saw as she fell to her death, and I did not want to see the look in her eyes as she slipped from my grip. I managed to pull her up and over the fire escape railing and we both sat down huffing and puffing. What did I learn? Redemption. Distraught teenagers need a second chance to redeem themselves. They are apprentice adults who need someone to catch them before they fall from grace.

I was relieved when my tenure as National Teacher of the Year ended because I heard a school bell ring and I was able to answer it. I returned to my classroom and to those who most needed me in their dysfunctional lives. I cannot answer the question why I teach without telling the story of my life because my story is written on the pages of the lives of too many children. My story is the story of the students whom I teach and mentor. And that is why I remain a classroom teacher.

I now teach full-time at an alternative high school and part-time at a local college. I write for various education publications, voicing my opinion from the perspective of a classroom teacher. My commentaries are often contrary to the opinions of politicians, policy makers, and pundits, but they have their agenda and I have mine. I have not joined the legion of sycophants who feed at the trough of billionaires who are trying to radically reform education, or publishing corporations that view Common Core as godsend for sales, rather than a means to improve student learning.

I will continue to address these big and very relevant issues through my writing. We need to hear the voices of teachers. Teachers who understand why they’re teaching.


Monhegan Island Artists Residency

November 22, 2013

Grants to support expanded programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                CONTACT: Susan Danly
November 12, 2013                                                    (207) 775-6148

PORTLAND—The Monhegan Artists Residency Corporation is the recipient of three grants to support its programming. A $7,500 grant from the Quimby Family Foundation will cover operating expenses for the two annual five-week artist residencies. Grants from the Horizon Foundation and the Maine Arts Commission of, respectively, $6,400 and $1,900 are supporting the new two-week Artist-Educator Residency.

“The Quimby Family Foundation and MARC share a mission: to provide accessibility to art opportunities for Maine residents,” said Susan Danly, chair of the residency board. The five-week residency allows for creative exploration and experimentation “in the crucible of artistic tradition that is Monhegan Island,” Danly said, “in a time when an extended stay is beyond the financial reach of most Maine artists.”

The Monhegan Artist Residency was among a handful of organizations to receive full funding from the Quimby Family Foundation for the third year in a row. This summer Maine-based artists Kristen Fitzpatrick and Daniel Anselmi were the artists in residence.

“The Maine Arts Commission grant provided important seed money to launch our new artist-educator initiative this summer,” Danly noted; the Horizon Foundation grant will help maintain it over the coming summers. Melinda Campbell, a K-6 Art Specialist with the Auburn School Department, was the first artist-educator this past July.

The Monhegan Artist Residency, which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014, has hosted 44 Maine artists on Monhegan Island. The program depends upon the financial support of individual donations and foundation grants. For further information about the program, the application process and former artist residents, visit:

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