Archive for August, 2015


Intern Story

August 31, 2015

Simon Rollins

Simon Rollins has been an intern in my office this summer at the Maine Arts Commission and kindly took a few minutes to write the following blog post. He provides us the chance to learn more about Arts Administration. Simon is a thoughtful person who graduated from Erskine Academy in 2012. His future is bright!

Please tell the Maine Arts Education blog readers about your educational journey Simon.

DSC_1224_SimonRollins_850x1270              I currently attend the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) where I study Arts Administration. I am often asked, “What exactly does that mean?” The question bothers me. It would not bother me so much if I had a snappy one-sentence response to hand out. But I don’t. Arts Administration is a multifaceted subject for me, and hopefully for other people who study it, as well.

     To ask an engineering student or a biology student the same question seems a little foolish or even inconsiderate. Why, though? “What will that equate to? What is engineering?” The answer is certainly more than just “math.” But it seems, from my personal experience, that “a lot of math” is a great answer for that question. An answer that is welcomed with open arms by the majority of amateur surveyors and second rate life coaches. A narrowed focus is a learning attribute our nation values. Unfortunately, I don’t hold that attribute.

     My education, thus far, has been wide-ranging. I study liberal arts, but the degree I will earn next spring will say “Bachelor of Visual and Performing Arts: Arts Administration.” Or something to that effect.

     For me, that means I have the green light to take the courses I am genuinely interested in and suitable for my style of thinking. And I’ve done exactly that for three years. It’s great. And I’m smarter as a result. Only recently have I begun piecing together the incredible courses I have collected to fashion a degree that summarizes what I’ve done at UMF. To be honest, I don’t think Arts Administration is the final title; it’s my working title.

     Though, with this said, I am in love with the idea of being an arts administrator. During my time here in Augusta, I’ve learned that the Maine Arts Commission (MAC), and other similar organizations, are employed with selfless people who possess a strong desire to serve the public. Working at MAC, in addition to schooling on the subject, has excited the possibility of undertaking future projects to benefit artists with the duel intention of exposing art for its intrinsic value and for the sake of social change.

     I was at a show in a South Portland basement a few weeks ago, listening to local bands I like. Visually scanning the 50 or so other people there, I thought, “Everyone here is genuinely enjoying themselves.” But even if just one person were relishing those moments, it would be worth organizing the musicians to travel far distances, congregate at the same venue, and assemble equipment in a hot, cramped space. That one person is better as a result of having been there, involved with something that was impactful to her on an intricate level. With this sort of example in mind, I’m realizing why I initially wanted to intern at the MAC and study this atypical subject. I want to expose others to what I find captivating.

      I view my major as a focused liberal arts degree. I’m learning concepts that will benefit me throughout my entire life, regardless of their direct applications to my future professions. As I begin to comprehend what post school life might look like, I gather that I will be working in multiple, evolving fields, so to worry too much about what exactly I’m studying at the moment feels like contrived anxiety. However, as mentioned previously, this is not self perpetuated stress. It seems as though everyone I have ever come in contact with is agitated or at least somewhat discouraged that I don’t know my place in higher education. I’m labeled as a bit of a slacker. Which doesn’t offend me in the slightest, but I do worry that others like me (the vast majority of students), feel a pressure to choose and commit to a costly and grueling degree that may end up restricting them to miserable parameters in the future.

     Ending brightly: Studying Arts Administration is currently giving me the freedom to view different avenues of choice by studying both business and art. It is an area of study I’m glad I chose to engage with.



First and Ten Steel Drum Band

August 30, 2015

Check out the message of this video

On Saturday these men are on the Vanderbilt football field and on Sunday afternoon they are attending a steel drum class. The entire band is from the team and the name: The First and Ten Steel Drum Band. They recognize that it takes a lot of practice on the field and off!


Talk about Creativity!

August 29, 2015



Another Student’s Story: Tom Goodwin

August 28, 2015

Tom Goodwin

“Thomas Goodwin grew up in Midcoast Maine. He studied film production at Emerson College and his college thesis film “Hands of the Nocturnal Clock” received accolades at festivals in New England. “Dead of Winter,” his second feature film, is a tribute to the place he grew up. Tom has worked on video and film projects since the age of 11. Growing up with a camera in hand, he captured every story he could. Having returned to his home state and aiding a local museum as they update their digital collection, Tom is excited to be doing what he loves in the place that he holds so close.” “Dead of Winter” Fundraising Campaign on Indiegogo – November 2014

Tom_2In Tom’s own words…
At the age of 11, I wrote a letter to Harrison Ford asking to be his sidekick in the next Indiana Jones film. Sadly, years later, Shia LeBeouf snaked the role from me. Point is, if you asked me at 11 years old what I would do when I grew up, I would have told you I would become a filmmaker. Now 27 years old, my answer hasn’t changed. I have succeeded in some ways, and am still yearning to grow.

I graduated from Medomak Valley High School in 2006, having taken more film classes than the school even offered. I was a accepted to attend Emerson College in Boston, MA for a Bachelor’s degree in Film Production. As part of my schooling, I was fortunate to write, produce, and direct a 20-minute 1920’s gangster film on 35mm film. I found that growing up in Midcoast Maine gave me an edge in securing locations and props in and around my hometown of Warren. As such, most of the film, “Hands of the Nocturnal Clock,” was shot on location around Midcoast Maine. !

HANDS OF THE NOCTURNAL CLOCK – TRAILER (runtime 1 minute, 15 seconds)

I graduated from Emerson College in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts. I stayed in Boston for two more years, teaching Media Arts at Young Achievers, K-8 in Mattapan, MA and a “Teen TV” summer program at English High School in Jamaica Plain, MA.

For my next project, a good friend handed me a feature length screenplay and offered me the chance to direct the film. I accepted, and in 2012 I directed “Humble River.” We had 48 speaking roles and 50 locations between Boston, MA and Orland, ME. Sadly, the Executive Producers of the film were unable to secure festival licenses for much of the music that was chosen for the production, so only a limited number of DVDs are in circulation. That said, we were able to finish the film, and I am able to say that at the age of 24, I had directed a feature length film.

HUMBLE RIVER – TRAILER (runtime 1 minute, 30 seconds)

Tom_1I returned to the Midcoast area in late 2012, and have been here ever since. Upon my return, I crafted the screenplay for “Dead of Winter.”  The screenplay was a chance for me to look at the area where I grew up with a fresh set of eyes. To be able to notice the things that set Maine apart. It is certainly a project about a place, and cannot be transferred to any other locale. It wasn’t until I began a job at the Owls Head Transportation Museum as their in-house videographer in June of 2014 that I was able to see that “Dead of Winter” could actually be produced into a film. While at the transportation museum, where I still work, I have access to creative and curious minds, equipment, flexibility, and support in this feature film endeavor. Beyond that, I am learning even more about my chosen craft every day. My mission has been primarily educational and promotional material for the museum, all housed on the museum’s YouTube channel, which I manage. From concept to distribution, these videos are 100% created by me. See below!

Owls Head Transportation Museum’s Youtube Channel

OHTM’S Museum Story (runtime 2 minutes)

“Dead of Winter” has a tried and true plot; what happens when a number of unlikely character’s lives intersect over a bag full of money? It’s a commonly seen anecdote, and has been used time and again to tell the story of a place. The place itself plays a major character in the film’s plot, the trajectory of the players involved, and the outcome of the story. “Dead of Winter” is an examination of a region much like the films “Fargo,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “Waking Ned Devine” route themselves deeply in the regions where they take place. Having grown up here and having dedicated my life to the art of storytelling, I am in a unique position to make this dream come true. To create this film in my home state, about my home state, and for my home state. Rather than tell you about it, allow me to tell you about it… in a video!!

DEAD of WINTER FUNDRAISING PROMO (runtime 2 minutes, 23 seconds)

DEAD of WINTER teaser #1 (runtime 1 minute, 28 seconds)

DEAD of WINTER teaser #2 (runtime 30 seconds)

Congratulations to Tom who was recently awarded a Maine Arts Commission grant. Tom was a student in my middle school art class many moons ago. It is great to see what he is doing these days.


MLR Guiding Principles

August 27, 2015

Interesting day


Kate, Beth, Amy, Argy

The Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leaders, Amy Cousins, Visual Art, Gorham Middle School, Kate Smith, Music, Central School, South Berwick and Beth Lambert, Performing Arts from Carrabec High School joined me today to do work on the Guiding Principles for the Maine Department of Education. It was a wonderful learning opportunity. We had a chance to contribute our ideas to the framework draft. MALI has done work on the topic and included it in the online resources located at I look forward to sharing the Developmental Frameworks document in the future.

sculpWe met at the beautiful Benjamin F Wentworth Intermediate School in Scarborough. The entrance has a beautiful dichroic glass hanging sculpture created by artist Michelle Gutlove. I hope that you will have a chance to visit the school in the future.

We all know how well the work we do in our visual and performing arts classrooms connects directly with all of the Guiding Principles. I am curious about how many of you are intentionally measuring them? Students will need to demonstrate their understanding of the GP as part of the proficiency-based high school diploma. Please let me know if you are doing this work and/or where your school district is in this process.

Imagine our surprise when driving home we spotted a large animal on a car in the distance. We were so excited to see the cat! And, when we got closer noticed that the car is from Acro-cats. Not sure where they were headed but they made my day! Check them out at

road catcat




Best Budget Decision

August 26, 2015

News to share

Make this part of your message….


Welcome Back!

August 25, 2015

2015-16 School year

Summer 2015 2nd group

MALI Summer Institute, August 3-5, 2015, USM, Portland

It’s back to school time and the air is changing. Whether you are in full swing with teaching or in your classroom preparing for students or perhaps waiting at home for the first day with “kids”, I know that the school year is upon you in some form.

I can sense that it is going to be a great year for visual and performing arts education in Maine! The Maine Arts Commission has been busy all summer supporting the work of Maine Visual and Performing Arts Education. Read below just a few of the ways in which MAC is doing just that:

  • It’s official, on August 3, the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative became the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative during the opening at the summer institute. Read about the shift at
  • In addition to the name change MALI sent a representative team to the Teach to Lead Summit in Washington, D.C., July 22-24 sponsored by the US DOE and the National Board. The experience launched us into phase 5 in an amazing way. We found ourselves at the same table with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Read about it at
  • On August 3-5 the MALI summer institute took place at USM, Portland campus. It was a fabulous learning opportunity where 12 new Teacher Leaders created an action plan that is turning into a workshop to be presented during the 2015-16 school year across Maine. This brings the total of Teacher Leaders to 73! You can read about the Teacher Leader work at
  • The veteran Teacher Leaders used a Logic Model to guide their work. Starting with a “problem” they created a plan that they will take action on during the next several months. Pretty amazing work!
  • The biennial fall arts ed conference is happening on Friday, October 9, Point Lookout Conference Center, Arts Education: The Measure of Success. Early bird registration and detailed information is at
  • Fourteen Teaching Artists participated in one day of the MALI summer institute – what a treat to have so many in one location. Read about their participation at
  • The Teaching Artist roster expanded this summer to a total of 40. You can read about the program and check out the roster at Please consider contracting with one (or more) of these artists for your students during this school year. Another call for the roster will go out in the near future. Watch this blog and arts ed list-serv for the invitation.
  • The statewide visual and performing arts education census will be launched this fall and plans are underway to collect data from all 100% of Maine schools. Watch for more information because we will need everyone’s help to make this happen!
  • MALI had an incredible Critical Friend day with 45 educators attending including PK-higher ed teachers and administrators. Read about it at

As you begin a new school year know that the MAC and MALI are here to assist you on your educational journey. More information on all of the MAC education programs can be found at


Amazing Band Story

August 24, 2015

SciTech Band

Americans for the Arts included in their newsletter an article about a high school in Springfield, Massachusetts that established a band that is having a positive impact on the school. In fact the band didn’t exist 8 years ago and now their are 500 members in the band out of a student body of 1500. Just learning their names is a challenge. Many of the students are not graduating from high school and many of them have never had any musical experience before entering the class, 99% have never seen an instrument before. This is a really good example of how one teacher can make an enormous difference. You can read the article by CLICKING HERE. You can watch the video at this link


In Today’s News

August 23, 2015

Wells teacher Bob Sprankle

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 6.41.19 PMBob Sprankle is an amazing educator who has assisted countless numbers of teachers and utilized technology in his teaching that helped students use their voice in an authentic way. I first learned of Bob when the SEED (Spreading Educator to Educator Developments) program was underway. Years later I was interested in the work Bob was doing with students (and teachers) with blogging and pod casting.

Sadly Bob was forced to leave the classroom because of his health. I learned about Bob’s condition and am sharing this information with you in case you can help out. One thing Bob is still able to do is draw. Read Bob’s story on the front page of the Maine Sunday Telegram today, August 23 at

If you are an educator paying into the state retirement system Bob’s story could be your story. At age 52 Bob is unable to do what he loves – teach – and is unable to collect disability retirement.

Family and friends of Bob Sprankle are raising money to help defray the costs of his medical expenses, the loss of his job as a teacher at Wells Elementary School because of his condition, and failing to obtain disability from the Maine State Employees Retirement System.

To learn more and donate:


Art Teacher Goes to Space

August 23, 2015

Worcester East Middle School art teacher

Two teachers are prepping for a NASA mission. Setting an example of working hard in life to fulfill goals. What an example art teacher Stacy Lord is setting for her students. Check out the story, flying on Sophia!/news/new-england/Mass–Middle-School-Teachers-Gearing-up-for-NASA-Mission/322216081.

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