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MALI Teacher Leader Story: Adele O’Brien-Drake

April 17, 2018

Visual Art Educator

This is one of several blog posts in 2018 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 7 Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about each leader. CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 93 Teacher Leaders and 8 Teaching Artist Leaders.  CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories.  Thank you Adele for sharing your story!

Seven of Adele Drake’s 20 years of teaching have been at Leonard Middle School in Old Town. She has been designing and implementing a curriculum for 300 students, in grades 6-8. In addition she serves as a buddy/advisor for 7th graders. Adele also coordinates the Operation Breaking Stereotypes Initiative and the School Garden. Adele says: “There are so many things to love about being an art educator but if I had to pick one it would have to be the fostering of critical and divergent thinking skills”.

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

Three keys to a successful visual arts education are the appreciation of art, the love of making things and the need to express ideas by making things.

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

Assessment has been helpful in my classroom in that it helps students to develop an understanding for the vocabulary of visual art. It also helps students to reflect on what they have accomplished and set new goals for themselves.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

Being involved with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative has benefited me because I have had the opportunity of learning so much from other art teacher leaders. MALI Teacher leaders have inspired me to want to share the work I do as an art teacher with others.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am really proud of the partnerships that I have created with various cultural institutions which has supported my art program and helped me to provide opportunities for my students.

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

What gets in the way of being a better teacher is usually not having enough time or money or space to do things.

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

One of the things I have worked really hard at is writing grants and fundraising so as to have available basic supplies for my students. It isn’t just luck or circumstance that has enabled me to raise the money to build a raised beds, a garden loom, a green house, garden shed, mosaic tile stepping stones, fencing and a water barrel collection system.

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

The advice that I would give teachers is that 50% of being an effective teacher is the ability to build respectful relationships with students.

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

If I were given $500,000 to do whatever I wanted I would use it to create an arts integrated curriculum that focused on the school garden.

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

If I were 94 years old I would look back and regret that I didn’t laugh more and listen more.

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