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MALI Teacher Leader Story: Hope Lord

May 8, 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 Hope for sharing your story!

Hope Lord has been the Art & Design teacher for 300 grades 6 through 8 students at Maranacook Community School for the last 7 years. She also teaches and inspires 16 gifted and talented art students and is the co-advisor for the school’s yearbook. Prior to that Hope taught in RSU #38 for 19 years, 12 as a special education teacher.

What do you like best about being an art educator?

It’s wonderful when I see my students make connections between art & other content areas. I love watching my students take risks in their art and grow as artists. I enjoy being surrounded by young artists and presenting them with opportunities to explore, develop, challenge, and create art. The best part of being an art educator is witnessing a student’s success, as they become and see themselves as artists.

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

Three keys to a successful visual arts education program are creativity, perseverance, and collaboration.

  1. First of all, creativity is important because an arts educator is always looking for creative inspiration for new lessons and challenging their students to innovate and take creative risks in their artwork. Art educators also have to be creative in obtaining the resources they need for their art classrooms and for adapting materials and lessons to challenge and meet the needs of all their students.
  2. Perseverance is also key to successful arts education. The process of creating art requires the artist to experiment, revise, and rework their art numerous times. Students need to learn perseverance because students often experience failed attempts in communicating their message or executing their design. By encouraging students and supporting them through the revision process, students learn to persevere and develop a life-long skill. Perseverance not only helps students become artists, it also helps them work through any difficult task they face in school and future careers.
  3. The final key to a successful arts program is collaboration. Seeking and receiving feedback and collaboration is crucial in planning, developing, and creating artwork. When students collaborate they gain insight and new perspectives that they wouldn’t if working in isolation. Collaboration also challenges and inspires an art educator. Collaborating with other educators and community members enriches an art program, providing greater resources and connections that working alone cannot. Collaboration teaches vital 21st century skills that prepare students for life.

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

Quality assessment helps me understand how a student is learning and the degree to which they comprehend a concept. It also helps me plan my instruction based on concepts students need more instruction or may have misunderstandings and need clarification. Assessment also provides students feedback on their learning and how they can improve their work. 

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

MALI has provided me the support, encouragement, and skills I needed to become an arts leader in my school, district, and state. I have the confidence to take creative risks in my teaching. My teaching has improved because of those risks and the collaboration with teachers throughout my district. My professional growth has enabled me to become an arts education leader and mentor to new teachers in my district. Additionally, I have the confidence to share my teaching experiences with other art teachers and receiving constructive feedback. MALI has been a great inspiration. 

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of the work I’ve done with some of my most challenging students. I love seeing these students grow creatively and find success in art, when they have not been successful in other content areas. As I watch their art confidence grow, I also see their self-esteem improve, and it warms my heart. I know the extra investment and encouragement these students need, is well worth the effort. Every student needs to feel they are good at something. I am proud that I have been able to assist students in finding success in art and also building their self-esteem.

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

The day to day politics of education interfere with being a great teacher. The increasing demands of our time and ever changing policies, hinders educators. The lack of support & funding for the arts from administrators, school boards, community, and legislators, all interfere with being a great teacher.

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

I have spent the last seven years developing an arts curriculum that is engaging and fosters creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication, while connecting the arts to other content areas. It is hard work and requires continuous revisions and alterations, as I teach each group of students. When a well planned and integrated art unit is executed, it seems effortless. However, it requires numerous hours of planning, research, collaboration, and support.

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

I would tell them to trust their instincts and take risks. Share your ideas with colleagues and get feedback and support to act on those ideas. Reach out to your community and colleagues throughout the state for resources and support to bring your ideas to fruition.

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

Making drums at the MALI Summer Institute, August 2018

I would take some of the money to build a new art and design studio and gallery at my school. I would also establish a grant that would be available to art teachers to help fund art materials and equipment, field trips, and artists in residence programs throughout Maine.

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

My only regret would be that I didn’t start my teaching career as an Art Educator. Even though I enjoyed the challenges and successes of a Special Education teacher, I wish I would have taught Visual Arts from the beginning. I would still have had the opportunities of teaching students with special needs, but through the arts lens. Teaching art and mentoring young artists has been very rewarding and my only regret is I didn’t start sooner.

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