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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Allie Rimkunas

May 31, 2016

Teacher Leader series

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This is the twelfth and final blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 71 posted to date.

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 9.05.08 PMAllie Rimkunas has taught in the Gorham School Department for 18 years, the last 12 as a K-5 Art teacher responsible for 500+ students.

What do you like best about being a music/art/drama/dance educator?

I get to play with the coolest supplies with all of the students. I also love getting messy and reminding kids that nothing is perfect.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

Having fun, teaching how to be courageous, imperfect, and open to change. (Oops, that was four. Hey- I’m an Art teacher, not a math teacher!)

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

It makes me think much more about what I’m teaching, how I’m teaching, why I’m teaching it, and how it can help my students to become more creative inside and outside the Art room.

IMG_0178What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

It’s great to hang out with Arts teachers from all over Maine and pick their brains not only about assessment, but everything else that we have in common. It’s lonely being the only Art teacher in the school with no one else to commiserate with on topics that are important to me as an Art teacher. Our district VPA teachers are given time together only once or twice a year. We’re social animals and need time to share and learn from each other.

Meeting with folks from all over the state also gives me tons of ideas to think about and new strategies to try out.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Whenever I run into students at the grocery store they run to me and not away from me.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

The lack of time to do all of the things I want/need/should do.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

I would change the word “luck” to “talent” and say that my artistic and teaching “talent” is not innate but developed through work and perseverance.

As far as “luck” is concerned, I’m the luckiest Art teacher in Maine, probably the world. I have a beautiful Art room, wonderful co-workers, understanding and supportive administrators, and terrific students.

IMG_0366Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

Love your kids, especially the difficult ones. You never know how far love will reach in their lives.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

I’d pay off my kids’ college debts, then I’d love to create a nature program for the neighborhood kids, and then…wait, can we up it to an even million? I need to do some traveling to soak in the Art and cultures of the world.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

My only regret is that cloning has not been perfected so that I can have a second brain to remember all of my student’s names (especially in the grocery store when their names become “sweetie”, “big guy”, or “you with the face”).

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