Archive for September, 2015


Happy Anniversary!

September 30, 2015

Join us to help celebrate the anniversaries of the Maine Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts – November 5, 5 P.M, Point Lookout!

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 10.55.14 AMPLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

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Stop and Celebrate!

September 29, 2015

Savor the moments

leafIn the fast paced world that we live in I periodically take a step back and consider the moment. I find that I don’t take the time to celebrate the accomplishments and successes – an important component of what we do as educators! Sometimes it takes an “interruption” to make that happen. This  morning it was a colleague stopping in my office to ask a question. While he stood there he noticed one orange leaf on a tree covered with green leaves out my window. At the end of the conversation we each went out with camera in hand to capture the moment!

It made me pause and consider the past week – what I’ve done, accomplished and where I’ve traveled to. Some was professional and some personal. Long days filled with learning, questioning, and fun!

teleLast week I traveled to Jackson, Mississippi to attend the Professional Development Institute for the arts education directors from each states Commissions and the Department of Educations. The two groups meet every two years with the purpose of learning and sharing information. Both of the education groups are wonderful people who share willingly. I was thrilled that the Maine Department of Education was represented by Beth Lambert, our new Visual and Performing Arts Specialist. With only three weeks on the job Beth jumped right in with both feet.

It was an outstanding opportunity to learn about what is happening in Mississippi in arts education. I will blog in the future about the Delta State University DMI Mobile Lab and their new program called Healing with a Groove; a 3-week program designed to promote racial healing among young men of color (ages 12-17). Also, I will share what I learned while at the Mississippi Museum of Art from the Director of Engagement and Learning, Daniel Johnson. He reminded me of the importance of approaching learning differently to meet the needs of young people!

busIn addition, I shared the work of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) and presented the story of how MALI has arrived at where it is today. The presentation was called Flashes of Inspiration – 5 minutes, 15 slides (20 seconds each) to tell a story of collaboration, challenges and successes. It was one of the most challenging presentations I’ve ever done. (Yes, even after 39 years in education I am challenged to the point of being inside out!)  Imagine telling a 5 year+ story in 5 minutes? I volunteered after we started planning for the Biennial Arts Ed conference: The Measure of Success, scheduled for October 9 at Point Lookout Conference Center, in Northport. The morning conference schedule will include nine presentations, 5 minutes with 5-8 images. I had no idea how difficult it would be to plan for until I started the work for Mississippi. In addition to being totally relieved when it was over, I also felt that I was able to share Maine’s story and give the participants a pretty good picture of MALIs success!

IMG_0409And, personally, my older son returned to Maine after being away for several months. We went to the Common Ground Fair where I soaked up good music, gathered ideas for art, and continued thinking about my footprint on the earth. (And, of course, ate some delicious food)!

We all spent time transitioning the yard and home to fall; picking the last of the vegetables, bringing plants inside before frost, and putting the garden tools away. It was a beautiful weekend to be outside. The chilly Sunday night found us on the deck with a fire watching the amazing eclipse and counting our blessings!

I am fortunate to love my work and love my play! I hope that you’ll have a few minutes TODAY to take time to reflect on whatever brings you joy in life!




O You Terror

September 27, 2015

An Ode to Sleep Deprived Parents

Sydney Symphony and Sydney Choirs Orchestra presented a rendition of ‘O Fortuna’, with new lyrics by Matthew Hodge. O You Terror.


Theatre Conference

September 26, 2015

UMaine, Orono

The Maine Educational Theatre Conference is on the move!  The annual fall conference for high school students will be held this year at the beautiful facilities of the University of Maine at Orono on Friday, October 16.  Visit for more information or contact Rick Osann, State Director at



Be Creative!

September 25, 2015

Campaign for Chicago Arts Education

Be Creative: A Campaign for Chicago Arts Education is a $38 million private fundraising initiative, built on the fundamental principle that the arts are essential to education. The fundraising campaign supports the Chicago Public Schools Arts Education Plan – a master plan to bring arts education to every CPS student. This YouTube video says it best!


R.S.V.P. Meeting

September 24, 2015

Summary of MAEA online gathering

Thanks to Lisa Ingraham for provided the following about the recent first meeting of the school year.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 7.51.10 AMTHANK YOU to all the teachers who contributed their voices to the September 15, 2015 R.S.V.P. ME online meeting!

There were 13 art teachers from the southern and northern-most corners in attendance to recap the summer and discuss issues related to art education. Some of the topics included this summer’s Maine Arts Assessment Initiative Institute (now Maine Arts Leadership Initiative) and the upcoming Biennial Conference “Arts Education: The Measure of Success” on October 9th at Point Lookout

Art teachers from York to Fort Fairfield, and areas in-between also shared beginning of the year successes and strategies for teaching and learning. I always leave these online meetings with new ideas to use in my classroom and ways to adapt the things I already do to benefit student learning. If you would like to participate in an upcoming R.S.V.P. ME meeting, please read on…

R.S.V.P. ME – Regional and Statewide Virtual Partners, Maine – is an online visual arts educator group sponsored by the Maine Art Education Association, which meets regularly via Zoom video conferencing to explore topics related to art education. Since Maine is such a large state, the goal of this virtual group is to bring our arts education community closer together using technology to engage in ongoing discussions about our teaching practices.

There will be one R.S.V.P. ME meeting per month during the school year, on the second Tuesday from 3:30 to 5:00 pm. All Maine art teachers are invited to attend. If you would also like to earn contact hours through the Maine Art Education Association, visit their membership webpage

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 4.10.42 PMThe next meeting will be held on October 13, 2015. Beth Lambert, the new Visual and Performing Arts Specialist at the Maine Department of Education, will join us to say “Hello.” Email R.S.V.P. ME facilitator Lisa Ingraham at to sign up!


The Best Teams Act Like Musicians

September 23, 2015

Kronos Quartet on Cancao Verdes Anos (Song for the Green Years)

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 8.45.59 PMThis past weekend while I was at Haystack for the Maine Art Education Association conference a high school teacher, who in addition, plays a guitar said to me that he had the opportunity to play with a group of his students and had a moment that he understood what it felt like to be part of a music group, a band. He said he looked up and realized the connection that musicians have with their eye contact, body motion, and the connections from one note and part of a song to the next. He was so excited that he had the chance to understand what that feels like.

A year ago the New York Times published an article written by Graham Roberts and Daniel J. Wakin about the successful Kronos Quartet. Not to mention that the article includes a video that a 3D point capture that rendered pieces of the quartet as “dot clouds”. It is amazing to watch! The first paragraph of the article…

Founded 40 years ago, the Kronos Quartet has broken the boundaries of what string quartets do, commissioning hundreds of new works that have brought jazz, tango, experimental and world music into the genre. The string quartet, based in San Francisco, has released 57 albums, sold more than 2.5 million of those recordings and has become a mentor to several generations of quartets that have followed in its innovative wake.

One day earlier this year at a studio in downtown Manhattan, the members — David Harrington and John Sherba, violinists; Hank Dutt, violist; and Sunny Yang, cellist — were game for an experiment: to create a video that would serve as a new way to explain the special mystery of how a quartet communicates. ​ They found themselves surrounded by a battery of laptops, video cameras and microphones as well as sensors that turned their movements into data that eventually rendered the players kind of as “dot clouds” who would appear and disappear according to their individual participation in the music.

Reading this article and listening to the music puts the sentiment of the art teacher I spoke to, at a layer that exemplifies this at the highest level. I hope you will take the time (about 4 minutes) to see and hear what this is all about from the Kronos Quartet’s view. To me this is the highest form of collaboration, connection, and community!


Haystack and Beyond

September 22, 2015

What are you doing to recharge your creativity juices?

Music teachers play in bands, conduct choirs at church, sing on the corner after work. Art teachers work in their studios, paint faces at school and/or church events, attend Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Stonington. There are a variety of opportunities to teach, to give and to be involved in the arts in Maine. Many of these activities are about feeding ones soul.

One opportunity that does so much for so many is attending Haystack – I’ve been attending the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) conference in September for 30 plus years (to numerous to count and remember) and I always leave excited and charged up. I feel nourished! Thank you MAEA for providing this learning opportunity.

This past weekends workshop offerings included the following:

  1. Masks: Michael Stasiuk

  2. Altered Books: Abbie Read

  3. Clay Explorations: Karen Orsillo

  4. Gelatin Printmaking: Susan Webster

  5. Cold Connections in Metals: Sharon Portelance

  6. Plein Air Painting: Cooper Dragonette

  7. Blacksmithing: Peter Happny

I had a chance to visit each workshop at some point during the weekend and I was so impressed with the quality and depth of the work. The new Visual and Performing Arts Specialist, Beth Lambert visited on Saturday. Below you can see some photos of the work and the amazing place (Haystack).

Attending Haystack is a great opportunity to learn, network, create, all in a beautiful location. On October 9 at the beautiful Point Lookout Conference Center in Northport dance, music, theatre, visual art teachers and artists, museum educators and many others will learn side by side at Maine’s Biennial Arts Education Conference: Measure of Success. If you’d like to learn more and/or register please go to If you have questions please email me at

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13 Common Sayings to Avoid

September 20, 2015

What did you say?

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 8.34.52 PMDr. Richard Curwin, the Director of the Graduate program in behavior disorder at David Yellin College wrote an article for Edutopia that is called 13 Common Sayings to Avoid. As you start off the school year you might want to give these some thought. I know there are some on the list that I said to students during my 30 years of teaching. Perhaps you as well.

The link to the entire article is at the bottom of this post.

Here are the first four:

1. “You have potential but don’t use it.”
Students feel insulted when they hear this, and while some accept it as a challenge to do better, more lose their motivation to care. Instead, say in a caring way, “How can I help you reach your full potential?”

2. “I’m disappointed in you.”
Of course we occasionally are disappointed in things that our students do. In addition, the result of openly expressing that disappointment depends as much on the way we say it as the words we use. But students have told me that they hate hearing a teacher say this. The problem with this saying is that it looks to the past. A more helpful approach looks to the future. The alternative might be more like, “What do you think you can do to make a more helpful decision the next time you are in a similar situation?”

3. “What did you say?”
This is the challenge that some teachers might throw down when walking away from a student after a private discussion about behavior and hearing that student whisper something. “What did you say?” is just bait for escalation. Do you really want to know what was whispered? It’s better to ignore that unheard comeback and move on. You don’t always need to have the last word.

4. “If I do that for you, I’ll have to do it for everyone.”
In our book, Discipline With Dignity, Al Mendler and I make a strong case for the policy that fair is not equal. You can’t treat everyone the same and be fair. Each student needs what helps him or her, and every student is different. Further, no one wants to think of him- or herself as one of a herd. It’s better to say, “I’m not sure if I can do that, but I’ll do my best to meet your needs in one way or another.”

5. “It’s against the rules.”
Rules are about behavior. Often there are many behaviors from which people can choose in order to solve a problem. Some may be within the rules. Try saying this instead: “Let me see if there’s a way to meet your need within the rules.”

6. “Your brother/sister was better than you.”
Never compare siblings or anyone else in a positive or negative way about anything. Comparisons can only lead to trouble regardless of which side of the coin the student is. My grandchildren always ask me, “Who’s your favorite?” What if I actually gave an answer?

Link to the entire article:


Foundation Report on Music Education

September 19, 2015

Parents and Teachers in Harmony

A nationwide study of 1,000 teachers and 800 parents finds strong support for music education at all grade levels. “Striking a Chord: The Public’s Hopes and Beliefs for K-12 Music Education in the United States 2015”.

The survey conducted in January-February 2015:

  • Seventy-seven percent of teachers and 64 percent of parents agree that music and arts education are “extremely important” or “very important.”
  • Eighty-seven percent of teachers and 81 percent of parents believe children should have a chance to learn to play musical instruments as early as elementary school.
  • Sixty-three percent of teachers and 57 percent of parents believe music education should be a required subject in middle school.

Read the article and download the report at

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