Archive for July, 2015


The Arts are Not a Flower

July 31, 2015

Rachel Goslin TEDx Pennsylvania

The youtube video was published on July 14, 2015 along with the information below. It is outstanding!

Why do our nation’s schools continue to suffer from declines in arts education budgets and instructional time even though a 2005 Harris Poll found that 93% of Americans believe that the arts are vital to a well-rounded education? In her very thoughtful and entertaining talk, Rachel Goslins, Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, persuasively argues that the arts are not a bouquet of daisies we give our children when we (or they) can afford it; they are also a tool (a wrench) that can be used to address some of the most intractable problems our young people face. You won’t want to miss the inspiring surprise performance in this video!

Rachel Goslins was appointed by President Obama to manage the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in 2009. Under her management, the Committee launched 3 new national initiatives, including Turnaround Arts, the first federally-led public/private partnership to bring arts education to a group of the country’s lowest-performing elementary schools. Prior to her appointment, Rachel founded a documentary production company, directing two independent feature documentaries and working on productions for PBS, the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and History. She also served as the Director of the Independent Digital Distribution Lab, a joint PBS/ITVS project. Before working in the arts, Rachel was an international copyright attorney with Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher and the U.S. Copyright Office. Rachel received her B.A. in English Literature and her J.D. from UCLA’s School of Law. She is a member of the 2012 Class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute.


Traveling Europe

July 30, 2015

Proud Mom

This summer one of my sons is traveling in Europe – yes, he needed an adventure and he is certainly getting many. Periodically he sends an update to several friends and family members.  I just had to post this since he articulates the power of music while staying on an olive tree farm in Torri, Italy! You are getting the entire update because it helps with the context. Sometimes while traveling people understand the power of music! I am so happy that he could have this moment to really get the concept! In Nicholas’ own words…

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 10.45.31 AMIt hadn’t rained in Torri for the first two and a half weeks that I was here, I was beginning to have flashbacks of my summer in California where three months went by without a drop of rain. However earlier this week thunderstorms began to roll through the hills around us in the early evening, and then on Wednesday it came.

Early in the afternoon Alex asked me if I wanted to go for a ride to the market, not wanting to miss an opportunity to get out of the house and explore a bit more, I gave an emphatic “Yes!” Alex doesn’t speak a lot of English, and what is spoken is a bit broken. We communicate best with smiles and giggling. Since he spends most of his time in Roma, we hadn’t truly had time to connect and I could tell he was much more wary of the strangers in his house than Martin. I was anxious to see how this errand run would go. Silent? Talkative? Perhaps a game of charades would be in order.

As we were traveling down the steep hills, drops of water began to hit the windshield; it was here. Suddenly the skies opened up as if Zeus’ bathtub had overflowed. The kind of rain that heavily impairs visibility. As Alex’s driving slowed, ‘Rich Girl’ by Hall and Oates came on the radio. Almost instinctively I began to hum along while the rain kept the beat. Before I knew it, Alex and I had both broken out in song and the car shook as the volume went louder and louder. I began to seat dance and Alex was playing drums on the steering wheel. It was an intercultural, non-speaking jam sesh.

Lines in the sand had been erased and we were now friends.

Music, I learned, is an international language and it knows no boundaries. Music has been an integral part of my time in Torri. Floriano loves club remixes, Martin enjoys classical and opera, and Laurie the country tunes. There is always music playing somewhere, and if it isn’t, it will be shortly. It seems to be our common denominator.

“She’s a rich girl and she’s gone too far…” I hope it will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

– Nick

Travel | Adventure | Explore
Current Location: Venezia, Italia

P.S. More photos on the blog!


I Been There

July 29, 2015


I have been thinking lately about my first years in education. I graduated from college (in 1976) and landed my first teaching job before I graduated. I bought the departing art teachers yellow Toyota Corolla that had 2,600 miles on it and it cost $2,600. I kept that car until it rusted out and had racked up 125,000 miles on it. I moved into my first apartment on my own.

I taught in two buildings in a school district that was a suburb of Philadelphia. One school housed K-6 with 250 students, the other K-8 with 500 students. The K-6 school students went to the other school when they reached grade 7.

I had a closet in each building where the art supplies and the art cart lived. I went from classroom to classroom. I had no set schedule except for all day Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon when I taught grade 7 and 8.

I created my schedule every other Friday when I went from classroom to classroom to learn what the learning plan was for the other subjects. I collaborated with teachers to come up with a multi-disciplinary lesson that would work with the art curriculum and the other content curriculum.

I took my students to the Philadelphia Art Museum each year for fabulous field trips.

I look back on those days (almost 40 years ago) and I realized that my biggest challenge was learning to collaborate. And, I continue to learn how to collaborate. I think it is one of the keys to being an educator! As a matter of fact, I can’t imagine NOT collaborating. It is who I am.

What did I learn during that first teaching job?

  • ADVOCACY – I learned the importance of making sure the ARTS were everywhere. Working off a cart taught me that. I didn’t have a room to hide in. I didn’t have “my own” walls to put the student artwork. It went everywhere – in their classrooms and the halls outside their classrooms, beside and inside the library, in the cafeteria (which also served as the gym), at the entrance to the school, in the principals office. (Art was not ignored nor marginalized).
  • COOPERATION – At first I struggled with pushing the art cart from classroom to classroom but now I realize that because of that cart I learned how to work with others in their space. The school was my classroom.
  • INTEGRATION – Art became the heart of each lesson and consequently it was often the heart of student learning.
  • COLLABORATION – The two music and two physical education teachers and me became buddies about almost everything. We collaborated because we know it enriched the curriculum for all students. We had strength in numbers and our voices continuously supported each other and each discipline. It became apparent that if we didn’t, that students learning and opportunities would suffer.
  • NO ONE EVER DIED FROM LACK OF SLEEP – I’d arrive at school at 6 in the morning and stay until 9 at night about 4 days a week. And, I loved every minute of it.
  • NOTHING IS BLACK AND WHITE – From my first years of teaching I learned from my students that nothing is black and white. Just because something worked for one student, doesn’t mean it worked for the next. I loved those kids; the incredible artwork they created and the fun of hanging out on Friday night at the local roller skating rink with them. Mostly, what good teachers they were, I learned so much from them about teaching and life!
  • TOLERANCE, UNDERSTANDING, PATIENCE – Without these three I would never have survived 34 years in the art room mostly at the middle level – not just survived, but really LIVED and LOVED (almost) every single minute of it!

I miss those days (and that car) but know in my heart that so much of who I am today is because of those first years of teaching! I’ve carried those lessons with me, they came out while I taught for 34 years, they served me well at the Maine Department of Education as the Visual and Performing Arts Specialist, and they strengthen each day as I travel my pathway as the Director of Arts Education at the Maine Arts Commission. I am so fortunate to love the work that I do and have been able to carry with me the learning from my first years as an art educator.


Getting Ready!

July 28, 2015

Fast and furious

I love the days that are jam packed with activity knowing that the outcome is a chance to bring educators together for professional learning. The task can feel daunting since there are so many details that need to be addressed but I know that there are many hands contributing to the planning. On August 3-5 sixty five educators will come together at USM to learn and talk about leadership, assessment, proficiency-based education, social media, messaging, creativity, arts census, cross content connections, and much more. The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) is providing the summer institute for returning and new Teacher Leaders. In addition there will be 14 Teaching Artists joining us as well.

Planning for the institute, August 3-5. Catherine, Argy, Theresa, Kate

Planning for the institute, August 3-5. Catherine, Argy, Theresa, Kate

I am excited especially since the MAAI team returned from the Teach to Lead Summit in Washington, D.C. There was so much positive energy and for us it translates into the next steps for MAAI. In some ways we are reinventing the initiative. Pretty soon there will be a new title and a new mission. Don’t worry we will still include the essential components just with a clearer focus on teacher leadership. Across the country they are focusing on the value of teachers as leaders. Consequently, the country is taking notice of the MAAI and realizing what a truly “good thing” it is. Not just for teachers but for learners. If it wasn’t for them, why would we strive to do the work we do at an even higher level?

If you’re thinking about participating in the initiative consider attending the biennial statewide conference Arts Education: The Measure of Success being held on Friday, October 9, Point Lookout Conference Center, Northport. Registration is open and there is a “deal” for registering early. I hope to see you there. And, if you wish to take on a leadership role be sure and apply to be a teacher leader.


Graduate Program

July 27, 2015

Lesley University Graduate School of Education

graduatesFor over 30 years, Lesley University’s Graduate School of Education, the largest and most respected provider of teacher education in New England, has been committed to extending its reach through off-campus programs. Those who are unable to travel to Lesley’s Cambridge, Massachusetts campus can now attain their masters of education at the university’s six learning sites located throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Each off-campus program prepares students to become capable, reflective teachers by providing a foundation in both theory and real-world practice. Designed for working professionals, the flexible format allows students to take one course per eight-week semester, meeting just one weekend a month (Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.). Those enrolled will start and finish the program in a cohort—a close-knit community of students—gaining them a network of colleagues, teachers, and connections to future opportunities.

Sweet Tree Arts in Hope, is an off campus location and accepting applications for a Fall starts in a new cohort group in the Creative Arts in Learning / Arts Integrated M.Ed cohort.

To learn more about Lesley’s off-campus programs, register for an upcoming info session at or call 207 542 8008.

About Lesley University

Lesley University empowers students to become dynamic, thoughtful leaders in education, human services, and the arts. Located in the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts, home to the world’s best-known universities, Lesley combines an intensely creative environment with the practical experience students need to succeed in their careers. Each year, 2,500 undergraduate and 5,300 graduate students pursue degrees on campus, off site, online, and through our low-residency programs. They discover the power of creativity to overcome obstacles, foster connections, and reveal fresh answers to the world’s problems.


100 Years of Fashion in 2 Minutes

July 26, 2015

One showing men and the other woman


Teach to Lead

July 25, 2015

What an experience

Catherine Ring, Jeff Beaudry, Theresa Cerceo, Kate Smith and I just returned from Washington, D.C. where we attended the Teach to Lead Summit sponsored by the US Department of Education and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The team represented the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) and I was so proud of all the teams accomplishments.

balconyWe participated in high quality professional development using the Logic Model which helped us to focus on our project from beginning to end. The Logic Model is a framework to help create a plan. The reason for using the Logic Model is it really helps to increase the effectiveness of implementing a project. Our purpose in going was to determine the future for MAAI so the summit was a great opportunity. We started with clearly stating the Problem (as it is called in the Logic Model):

The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) was created to address the inconsistency and gaps in access to quality professional development for arts educators. After five years in operation, MAAI is looking to sustain the successful work it has begun, and to address the emerging needs of arts educators in our state.

Jeff and Kate

Jeff and Kate

The next step included creating the goals which we decided would have a strong focus on Teacher Leadership. For 4 years now MAAI has focused on leadership by inviting visual and performing arts teachers to be Teacher Leaders (75 to date). This segment of the D.C. work helped us to dig deep on the topic of teacher leadership. It was very useful to take a close look and realize how much the focus on teacher leadership has impacted the successes of MAAI. To hear the clarity around teachers as leaders repeated over and over during the summit was validating and gave me a sense of pride in Maine arts educators.

Catherine and Theresa

Catherine and Theresa

From there we moved on to identifying the inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes. From this step it was fairly simple to fill in the last two segments: the rationale and the student impact. Below you see a blank template that we used to get started.

Logic Model template

Logic Model template

MAAI was selected to attend as one of 27 teams from 125 proposals. MAAI was the only team with a statewide project represented. Also participating were 85 critical friends. Jacob Bruno who is employed by Corwin and lives in Portland, Oregon was assigned to the MAAI team and he was a great match for us. And, we were glad that Rob Westerberg could join us electronically a couple of times during the Summit.


The Logic Model template MEGA size

Once we got the bulk of the work on paper we shared with a few other groups to get and give feedback from a fresh set of eyes. We also had some professional learning around developing our message. Its one thing to come up with a good project but also important to be able to communicate about it. After more tweaking every team displayed their plan and we had time to provide feedback to each team.


The highlight of the summit was definitely having the opportunity to have the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, visit our table (one of 4 selected) to learn about the work of MAAI.


We were so grateful to be participants in the Teach to Lead Summit. I was honored to be part of a fantastic team representing Maine and MAAI. If you are interested in attending with a project that you are considering the next one will be held in Tacoma, Washington on September 26-27 with a deadline for applications August 7. For more information including the application please go to

Flying over the nations capital.

Flying over the nation’s capital

Flying into Portland, home again.

Flying into Portland, home again.



Inspired Learning: Commentaries on Arts Education

July 24, 2015

Arts Education theme

This is a pretty interesting website that has visual and performing arts at the heart of the information. It is from Education Week, this week but it was published online in December of 2014. Information worth repeating. It is called Inspired Learning: Commentaries on Arts Education and located at the following link.

There is so much food for thought, you will not want to miss it. For example, the following is part of an interview with Jeff Dekal.

Q. Can you describe what’s happening in your illustration?

Jeff Dekal: This illustration is an interpretation of my earliest memories of drawing as a child. Instead of doing what most of the other kids were doing after school or on the weekends, my friends and I would pick themes and draw them. That’s how we got our kicks.

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Made it to D.C.

July 23, 2015

Teach to Lead Summit

Last week I included a post about the opportunity for the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) to participate in the Teach to Lead Summit in Washington, D.C. We are here right now working with the Logic Model to determine the next steps of the MAAI. We know that it has been successful and we want to build on that success. Sessions include determining a problem to focus on, determining goals and what activities will help us carry out the goals. The focus on teacher leadership is at the heart of the work. The message is clear – without quality teachers as leaders in place in every school, we will not be addressing the needs of students or teachers to be successful!

Our team participating in the Teach to Lead Summit include Theresa Cerceo, Kate Smith, Catherine Ring, Jeff Beaudry and myself.




Teachers Teaching Teachers

July 22, 2015

Connecting with others

As many of you know at the foundation of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) is “teachers teaching teachers”. The MAAI brings together teachers from all grade levels, arts disciplines, and representatives from every corner of Maine. MAAI provides professional development that guides teachers to become empowered and they determine which area they want to learn more about. All along their individual journeys they are sharing ideas, exchanging thoughts and asking questions.

I came across this quote from a North Carolina teacher named Ben Owens. He said the topic of “meaningful PD”:

“Peer-to-peer collaboration, as opposed to traditional training workshops or classes,” writes Owens, “is how one grows in his or her profession—not by going it alone but by sharing ideas with experts in the same field” (Hope Street Group).

I couldn’t agree more! I learned a bit more about Ben Owens on Amazon at and I learned a bit about the Hope Street Group at

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