Archive for April, 2014


In Today’s News

April 30, 2014

MECA receiving large gift – Art and Music

The largest gift to date has been given to the Maine College of Art in Portland to establish a program in music and art. This is great news for MECA and the state! Congratulations!

A foundation named for Bob Crewe of Scarborough, a songwriter who created many of the most notable pop hits of the 1960s after attending art school, has donated $3 million for the Portland college to fund scholarships and build a sound stage, music practice rooms and a gallery. The program is slated to begin this fall. You can read the entire article from the Portland Press Herald written by Ray Routhier at


New England Summit on Arts Education

April 29, 2014

Earlybird special for registering by May 30

I am excited about the planning that is underway for the New England Summit on Arts Education scheduled for July 29, 30, 31 at USM, Portland. Below are the details…. please email me if you have any questions at

July 29, 30, 31, August 1, 2014

University of Southern Maine, Portland

Cost: $299 which includes access to arts education learning, continental breakfast, snacks and lunch

Earlybird special: register by May 30 for a $25 discount

Additional savings: register as part of a team (at least 2 people) for a $25 discount

With both of these discounts the total cost per person is $248



  • CEUs are available through the University of Southern Maine.
  • Contact hours are available.
  • Graduate credit is available through the New England Institute for Teacher Education at a discounted rate of $950. This is a separate cost from Summit registration. Please click here to register for the graduate credit.


Screen shot 2014-04-28 at 2.04.23 PMOVERVIEW

The New England Summit on Arts Education will provide an outstanding collaborative opportunity for educators to dig deep into teaching, learning, and assessment in arts education including student-centered classrooms and proficiency. Please join educators from Maine and beyond for this fabulous three-day professional development opportunity.

The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) was established in 2011 and has been responding to the needs of arts education ever since. The overall focus of the MAAI has been to create an environment in Maine where quality assessment in arts education is an integral part of the work all arts educators do to improve teaching and learning, and student achievement in the arts.

Maine has a commitment to offer a quality professional development opportunity that is customized to meet your educational needs and goals. Consequently, participants will choose a strand to be working in during the Summit.

MAAI has provided professional development during the last three summers to Maine arts educators who wish to take on a leadership role and create a workshop to present to arts teachers across the state. The initiative has been building capacity by training arts educators on the “what” and “how” of arts assessment and finding the balance of formative and summative assessment, so they can provide the leadership in Maine through professional development opportunities.

Screen shot 2014-04-28 at 2.05.28 PMPHASE IV

During the next phase of the MAAI the goals will expand in response to teacher feedback and is offering a three or four-day summit. The summit is designed to meet the needs of teachers and the workshops will be on such important topics as proficiency, standards-based, student-centered, leadership, advocacy, creativity, 21st century skills and much more.

There will be multiple opportunities for networking as we broaden our knowledge in arts education. The Summit is a perfect opportunity for those who want to learn the core principles or advance further into the Arts Assessment field.

Participants will be able to choose one of three strands based on experience.

Strand # 1 – Developing Teacher Leader

This strand is designed primarily for teachers (teaching artists or arts educators) who have not already been involved in the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative and would like more of a foundation in arts assessment, and connections with teaching and learning.This strand is also for teachers in Maine who would like to become a Teacher Leader for the MAAI. Attendance at all four days is required to become a Teacher Leader.Strand 1 is open to any participant (from Maine or beyond).

Strand #2 – Arts Assessment Team

This strand is designed for attendees to work together as a team during the Summit. These teams will develop a collaborative arts education plan to be implemented when returning to school/district. Consider possibilities when forming your team; the work accomplished during the Summit could be similar to Strand 1 or 3 but will be customized to the team’s needs and unique ideas. This strand is not only open to PreK-12 district Visual and Performing Arts teachers and classroom teachers, but also to administrators, teaching artists, community cultural organizations or institute members, parents, and/or school board members.Strand 2 is open to any team (from Maine and other states, at least two participants per team).

Strand #3 – Arts Assessment in Practice Strand

This strand is designed for the individual who is ready to dig deeper into arts assessment, and connections with teaching and learning. Strand 3 will provide the opportunity to turn collective knowledge and understandings into important collaborative work on benchmarking, proficiency, and resource development.Strand 3 is open to anyone returning as a Teacher Leader, graduates of arts assessment courses, and anyone who feels they are ready to dig deeper into arts assessment.Day 4 – August 1 – TEACHER LEADERS
This day is offered for teachers from Strand 1 who would like to take an active role in phase 4 of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative as a teacher leader. The professional development offered on day 4 will help prepare teachers for taking on leadership roles including leading workshops at the regional and statewide level. There is an application process to become a teacher leader that will be available in the near future.

Comments from Maine Arts Assessment Summer Institute participants

“The relationships I have developed have positively changed my life and the ripple will go on for years to come! I loved the activity about a collaborative community and glancing upon that poster throughout the time period; I will use that for my own classroom.”

“Thanks for all the hard work that was put into the planning and developing of this year’s institute. I love what we do. I am so pleased to be a part of this.”

“Thank you for setting up this opportunity for me to really think about how I teach, and how I can expand my practice so my students can have a deeper understanding and appreciation for what they learn in the art program.”

Comment about the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative from a Teacher Leader

“There are not enough words to describe how appreciative I am of this initiative. It has made me a better teacher, and has made a difference to my students’ art education. “




Poetry Out Loud

April 28, 2014

Poetry Out Loud National Event

_POL2014_AllI am in Washington, DC for a few days at the National Poetry Out Loud events. Each state is represented by a high school student who will be competing tomorrow, Tuesday, in the semifinal round. The top students go on to the final round held on Wednesday at George Washington University. These young competitors advanced from a field of some 365,000 students who tested their skills in poetry recitation in more than 2,000 schools nationwide. The top finalists and their schools will receive $50,000 in awards.

The semifinals and finals can be viewed remotely through a live, one-time only webcast. Follow Poetry Out Loud on Twitter at @PoetryOutLoud and @NEAarts, #POL2014. For more information on the event, webcast, or viewing parties, visit or call 202-682-5606. You can also go to the Poetry Out Loud site at

The Maine Arts Commission is proud of our state champion, Charlotte Feinberg of Gorham High School who is the 2014 State Poetry Out Loud Champion. The State Runner-up is Thalia Muyderman from Waynflete School in Portland. Both students receive cash awards and their schools receive money to purchase poetry books for their libraries.

After surviving classroom, school wide and regional level competitions, 19 state finalists gathered at the Waterville Opera House in Waterville to recite three rounds of poetry from memory. Charlotte Feinberg was ultimately selected as state champion. Feinberg impressed a top panel of judges to become the 2014 State Champion reciting three poems during the competition: “The Pomegranate and the Big Crowd” by Alberto Rios, “Monet Refuses the Operation” by Lisel Mueller, and “When You Are Old” by William Butler Yeats.

About Poetry Out Loud

Recitation and performance are major new trends in poetry. There has been a recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as seen in the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of hip-hop music among our youth. Poetry Out Loud builds on this momentum by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English class. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have formed a partnership with state arts agencies to support the expansion of Poetry Out Loud, which encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. This exciting program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage.

The competition itself is organized nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission. It begins in Maine’s schools where school champions are selected to compete in two regional finals at which twenty students are ultimately selected to appear at the state final. One student moves on from the state final to represent Maine at the national finals in Washington D.C. If you are interested in learning more or in having your school participate next year please go to


So Long Bonnie and THANKS!

April 27, 2014

Fortunately for us!

During the past 4 months I had the good fortune of having Bonnie spend hours and hours working at the Maine Arts Commission as part of her required internship for a graduation requirement from the University of Maine, Augusta. Bonnie is an art major and in less than a month she will be graduating and headed to graduate school in California. She was absolutely fabulous to work with and attacked each task with gusto and confidence. There wasn’t anything Bonnie wouldn’t take on and hopefully she is walking away with new skills to add to her bag of tricks. I asked her to write a blog post as part of her internship and she gladly stepped up to do so. Bonnie was an enormous help with so many arts education tasks – I believe I benefited more from the experience, than she did. I know you’ll join me in giving a great big THANK YOU to Bonnie!!

My Time at the Maine Arts Commission

By Bonnie Lee

Boy, oh boy, working at the Maine Arts Commission was a whirlwind of paperwork and important people. Specifically the Arts Education department. I believe Argy Nestor organizes and works in her sleep because of the tremendous amount of work she does in such a short time. Not only does she juggle so many programs without dropping them, she is actually good at what she does.

I have much respect for the Education work that the Maine Arts Commission does. They provide bus funding for school children to visit Maine arts venues, educate teachers on how to better their assessment practices and creativity in the classroom (which is so important for the teachers) and they organized a huge competition, Poetry Out Loud. This competition allows students to integrate poetry, performance and recitation into a chance for a college scholarship.

The workshops provided by the MAC on Arts Education help the teachers of PreK-12 arts classes tremendously by giving them networking possibilities and helps them reinvent their class assessments to compete with today’s new graduation processes and available technology.

The entire experience was exciting and educational for me because I witnessed the inner gears of the Maine Art Commission and what hard work goes in to all of these programs and projects that are offered to the residents of our great state.

I am grateful that there are people in Augusta hard at work to better the lives of our children and us!




Superhero Designs

April 26, 2014

Modern Renaissance Superhero Designs: Altered Art

This is a fascinating site which shows what artists created challenged by incorporating superheroes into fine art pieces. Even the titles for each piece is interesting. I am certain this might provide you with ideas on a lesson to do with your students. You can check it out by clicking here.




In Today’s News

April 25, 2014

Update from the Maine Department of Education

This information is part of this weeks MDOE Commissioner’s Update. You can subscribe to the weekly updates by going to the same link that is below.  In the meantime, the entire article is located at

Maine arts teachers focus on standards, assessment
Posted on April 23, 2014 by Maine Department of Education

Arts teachers from across the state met at the University of Maine at Orono for a Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) regional workshop earlier this month. The workshop focused on articulating proficiency in arts learning and developing proficiency models for different grade levels.

In the spring of 2011, Maine launched the MAAI statewide initiative on arts education assessment…




Call for Artists

April 24, 2014

Inspired by Katahdin at the Harlow Gallery in November

Hallowell, Maine — The Harlow Gallery invites Maine artists to submit work to the upcoming exhibition Inspired by Katahdin to be presented in partnership with brothers David & Carl Little in November 2014.

Artist and author David Little has long been inspired by Maine’s tallest mountain, so much so that he wrote a book,  Art of Katahdin: The Mountain, the Range, the Region published by Down East Books in 2013. The book follows a historic timeline using art inspired by the majestic mountain, as well as a collection of Katahdin literature, photography, graphics, maps and more, and was edited by Carl Little.

Cover image of book Art+of+Katahdin - Copy

This November, the Harlow Gallery will exhibit a selection of works by artists featured in the book, and are inviting submissions from Maine artists inspired by the majestic Maine mountain.  Submissions are being accepted via email through October 1, 2014 and will be reviewed by a curatorial committee including Art of Katahdin author and artist David Little, author and editor Carl Little, and staff from the Harlow Gallery.

The exhibition will be on view at the Harlow Gallery at 160 Water Street in Hallowell, Maine November 7-29, 2014. The  public reception on Friday, November 7, 5-8pm will featuring a book signing with David & Carl Little.

Info for Artists
1. Deadline for email submissions is 11 p.m. on Wednesday, October 1, 2014.

2. Original fine art in any media is welcome, including hand-pulled prints, photography, sculpture, and fine crafts, including ceramics, glass, and fiber art.

3. Artists should be residents of Maine at least part of the year or otherwise have a strong connection to our state.  Artists submitting from out of state are responsible for the costs of shipping work to and from the Harlow. Please note that return shipping will be actual cost plus $20 to cover staff time.

4. The entry fee is $10 for members of the Harlow Gallery/ Kennebec Valley Art Association or $20 for non-members. Non-members may join the Harlow Gallery when submitting and pay the member rate. Each artist may submit up to 4 works of art for consideration (please note that the fee is per artist, not per work of art).

For complete information about submitting your work, and to learn about more opportunities for artists in 2014, please visit the Harlow Gallery online at

For more information:  Nancy Barron or Deb Fahy at 207-622-3813,,

Image: The cover of Art of Katahdin: The Mountain, the Range, the Region by David Little, edited by Carl Little. Courtesy of Down East Books.

Deadline for Electronic Submissions:  October 1, 2014 at 11pm

Exhibition dates:  November 7 – 29, 2014

Opening reception & book signing: Friday, November 7, 5-8pm
Gallery Hours:  Wednesdays – Saturdays noon to 6pm
Location:  160 Water Street, Hallowell, Maine 04347


In addition to the call for art from artists there is also a call to student artists to submit. Please check it out,    http:// (the second link is a call to join other artists to create on site as part of the KLT partnership. Please take a look when you have a chance!


Developing a Proficiency-Based System

April 23, 2014

What’s it all about?

In February the Maine Department of Education posted the following in their news room. I know that this would be helpful to some arts educators as you move forward with your work getting ready for the Proficiency Based High School diploma starting with the graduating class of 2018 (that is next years 9th graders). Go directly to the post by clicking here.

Join arts educators on Wednesday, May 7 for a discussion on the Proficiency-Based High School diploma on the next Maine Arts Assessment webinar, 3:30-4:30. To join the webinar (at 3:20) please go to One contact hour is available.

The goal of proficiency-based education is to ensure that students acquire the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers and the centerpiece of achieving proficiency is a clear focus on learning and instruction.

In proficiency-based education, students who have not met standards receive additional academic support to help them achieve proficiency. When a student demonstrates proficiency in the expected standards, they move on in their education. The standards include content area knowledge and skills as well as those of the Maine Learning Results Guiding Principles, which include critical thinking and problem-solving.

Implementing the requirement that high schools award proficiency-based diplomas starting in 2018 places student demonstration of skills and knowledge at the center of instruction, assessments and reporting. School administrative units (SAUs) can work together or with other SAUs to develop their system for awarding of proficiency-based diplomas. Additionally, SAUs may add to the expectations for proficiency described in the content area standards and Guiding Principles

There is extensive guidance for developing educational systems that support student proficiency. The literature that describes proficiency-based education systems includes the work of Dr. John Hattie, professor and director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, Australia and Dr. Michael Fullan, Canadian educational researcher and former dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Hattie’s synthesis of over 800 meta-studies is the result of 15 years of research. His recent publication Visible Learning for Teachers points to the top 10 influences on student learning. Fullan reminds school leaders to build a system of support for all learners. Fullan asserts that raising the bar (for all students) and closing the gap (for lower performing groups) is dependent on choosing four drivers that have been demonstrated to be effective at achieving measurable improvements in results for students.

As educators build proficiency-based systems, they must continuously evaluate how well their educational programs and pathways provide each student with the opportunity to learn and make progress toward demonstrating proficiency of Maine’s learning standards. The guidance offered by Hattie and Fullan can provide educators and community members with criteria against which they can evaluate and enhance proficiency-based education.


MAEA Awardees

April 22, 2014

Honoring our colleagues

Nothing like the opportunity to honor and celebrate the good work of arts educators! Congratulations to Allison, Jennifer, Brian, Janie, and Jenny!


Allison Price – Maine’s 2014 Art Educator of the Year

Allison’s passion, along with educating and creating art are quality art shows. Chair of the MAEA Member Exhibitions, Allison is prime to share her gifts. Exhibitions occur every year with some multiple opportunities taking advantage of varying locations. Allison is a true collaborator working with other dedicated volunteers and location staff ensuring that the experience is as committed to a professional experience as we are committed to our practice. Sharing what Maine Art Educators do inside and outside of the classroom studio, including the blending of exhibition, education and all the benefits that provide opportunities to share practice beyond theory.

Allison is a committed Brunswick High School art educator. The work exhibited in her classroom studio, school and collegial sharing opportunities reflects a talented educator with a strong ability to work with young student artists to produce artworks with evidence of inquiry and quality. Allison is passionate, friendly, professional and always available to help. She is genuine, highly trained in her field and devoted. Devoted to art education, art making, art exhibitions, and her colleagues! A grand slam. Congratulations Allison!



Jennifer Merry – Maine’s 2014 High School Art Educator of the Year

Jennifer Merry has taught visual art at Thornton Academy for 28 years. Innovative, creative, and a caring educator, she has a natural ability to lead by example in the classroom, guiding students toward their own art-related accomplishments.
Jennifer is an artist who inspires us all to be better people. One of Jennifer’s true gifts is her compassion for others. Her classroom is a joyous, safe, inviting place where students can summon their creativity and become an artist on a whole new level.

She currently teaches Painting, Drawing, Illustration, and Visual Art I. She also co-teaches an after-school class for female students called Sailing through Girlhood. She is the TA Art Club Advisor, Co-Founder and Member of the Permanent Art Collection Committee, and Co-Founder and Member of Cinderella’s Closet, which recycles dresses for students in need. She currently Chairs the Mentor Support Team, a group of trained faculty that assist new teachers.

She is a painter, draftswoman, and photographer whose work has been exhibited in local art exhibits. Jennifer lives in Kennebunkport with her husband John and she has two sons, Johnny and Charlie. She also teaches Sunday School at South Congregational Church in  Kennebunkport.



Jane Snider – Maine’s 2014 Maine Middle Level Art Educator of the Year

Ms. Janie Snider is truly one of the best. Janie knows how to engage learners while simultaneously addressing educational standards; reads professionally and attends educational seminars; and continues to grow as a teacher and leader in her field. She has conducted several teacher workshops demonstrating how to unpack the Maine Learning Results Visual Arts Standards.

During her tenure at Hancock Grammar School, Ms. Snider has involved fifth grade students in the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium, a program designed to bring artists from Maine and around the world to sculpture a single piece of public art from Maine granite.  This field trip reaches across the curriculum as it encompasses art, writing, science, social studies, and math which aligned with the Maine Learning Results, Visual and Performing Arts Standards.

Ms. Snider involves parents and community members through her thoughtful and creative projects. Soup for the Soul, involves students from grades 6-8 sold during the benefit, proceeds going toward a charitable cause for a community member who suffered from ALS.

Because Ms. Snider is explicitly thoughtful about her classroom practices, her students learn to do art well. She simply knows how to bring out the best in her students, and … isn’t that really what good teaching is all about?



Brian McPherson – Maine’s 2014 Elementary Art Educator of the Year

Brian McPherson is remarkable. While he is truly a committed visual art educator of the highest caliber he is also an advocate for good teaching, good learning, and good outcomes for people of all types across all situations:  students, colleagues, parents, and educators.

Brian is dedicated to his students’ art, his drive to showcase their creativity on the school walls, in district level buildings, in local community venues, art museums and galleries, and even the State House in Augusta. He is driven to improve himself and his practice. He was supported by his school district to earn National Board Teacher Certification in 2007, the first elementary art teacher in the state to earn the honor. His professional life has taken him to various parts of Europe, Southeast Asia and China, where what he brings back are not merely cultural artifacts, but inspiration for what’s next in his curriculum development.

As a member of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative he has been a conference presenter and curriculum developer for the Resource Bank. His work has been recognized and selected to be part of a video series highlighting Standards Based Art Education at the Elementary Level.  A true career professional art educator, Brian’s Principal, Rick Dedek II states, “Brian is one of the best teachers I have ever known.”


Jennifer Kowtko- PORTRAIT

Jennifer Kowtko – Maine’s 2014 Higher Education Art Educator of the Year

Jenny is a 2013 graduate of the Maine College of Art Masters of Art in Teaching program. She also holds a BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University, where she graduated summa cum laude.

Jenny has over a decade of freelance illustration and other work experience, which has given her a wealth of professional experiences that she is able to draw upon in her teaching. Since graduating from MECA, Jenny has spent the current school year as a long-term sub at Windham Primary School and most recently at Kennebunk High School, where she will finish out the duration of the year teaching Art Foundations, Painting, and I.B. (International Baccalaureate) Visual Art.

A New Jersey native, Jenny has been proud to call Portland, Maine her home for the last 11 years. She is grateful for the wisdom and generosity of her own mentors, coworkers, and former teachers, the love and support of her husband Brian, and the undying loyalty of her adopted cattle dog. With great enthusiasm and anticipation, Jenny is currently seeking an art teacher position for the coming school year.





Pam Kinsey Blog Post

April 21, 2014

Aroostook county Music educator Pam Kinsey makes a statement!

The following post was contributed by K-12 music educator Pam Kinsey who teaches in Easton, Maine. Easton is in Aroostook county, about a 20 minute drive east of Presque Isle. There are several arts educators in Maine who teach K-12, many in rural areas. The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) makes a commitment to all arts educators in Maine providing professional development opportunities for rural, urban, and everything in between. Pam has served on the MAAI leadership team for 2 years representing Maine Music Educators Association. The leadership team is thrilled that Pam will be attending the New England Summit on Arts Education at USM, July 29, 30, 31 and August 1. This is Pam’s first summer joining the professional development opportunity and we all hope that you can join us as well!

IMG_3233How to write a blog post? I guess you just start to write down your thoughts. Are you part of a small or rural school system? Are you a department of one? What do you think when they say (for professional development days):  ‘We are going to work by department” and you think ‘hmmmm….me, myself and I—again. What if you could be part of a team? Perhaps develop curriculum and rubrics, lesson plans and grading strategies with others from your discipline? Tackle standards-based learning outcomes with someone who has the same struggles and celebrations that you encounter on a daily basis? The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) probably has something for you! For many years (over 20!)

I have been a department of one. The neighboring town now has a music department of one and the communities two over from my district each have music departments of one. What a great idea if we could all collaborate to create meaningful instruction that aligns at least with one another as we pore over new curriculum expectations and standards-based outcomes? Often, our populations are transitory and some students travel freely from district to district, depending on a parent’s current situation. I, for one, would love to avoid the gaps that all of this moving can create for students, as well as a seamless flow of curriculum through the grade levels for students that don’t move around. I would like to do this in a group of more than one!

The MAAI is responding to feedback and offering the ‘New England Summit on Arts Education’ this summer, July 29, 30, 31, USM, Portland, and it has opportunities for individuals and teams to work together to problem solve these and other aspects of teaching and learning for our students in the arts. I already have a few choices in mind of other music educators that I can contact and I can only hope that they will share my interest. If not, I know that when I attend I will still find others who share my concerns and attitudes toward wanting to provide the best education in the arts that I can and these people will become part of my learning community. Either way I am sure it will be a win-win opportunity for my students and for me!

IMG_2908For more information on the New England Summit please go to Registration is now open with an early bird discount for those who register by May 30. The Summit is being customized to meet your needs. There is a team discount for those who register with at least from a district. The team strand is not only open to PreK-12 district Visual and Peforming Arts teachers and classroom teachers, but also to administrators, teaching artists, community cultural organizations or institute members, parents, and/or school board members. Check out the link above to learn more.

If you are interested in joining the MAAI as a teacher leader please attend the 3-day Summit and the additional day for teacher leaders only, August 1. If you have questions about the Summit and/or being a teacher leader, please contact Argy Nestor at

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