Archive for February, 2019


Leadership in Arts Integration

February 21, 2019

Making a difference

Christie-Jo Adams has led the arts education work in the Richmond Public Schools. One school started with low-achievement and was facing closure with only 205 students. Christie infused an arts integration model and the success rate soared and the enrollment went to 410. They were awarded Turn-Around Arts funding which provided funding to fully develop ideas.


  • Engage Stakeholders: Maintain a 360-degree perspective related to stakeholders. Be nimble in the way you engage with them, as resources, support, and advocates.
  • Advocate for Students: Prepare well, take risks, and be ready to face doubt and challenges.
  • Be Brave, Take Risks: Continue to learn the lessons of each success and each failure and carry those lessons forward into your next endeavor.

READ THE STORYfrom Education Week, Leaders to Learn From, February 20, 2019, written by Alyson Klein.


Midcoast Music Academy

February 20, 2019

Creating new music

Midcoast Music Academy (MCMA) provides strong opportunities for learners of all ages to learn music and in addition, they support and encourage ‘out of the box’ thinking.
An example of this recently took place when instructors Tom Luther and Joe Cough co-taught a lesson with the intention of coaching students to create a new piece of music. Tom and Joe are both Teaching Artists Leaders with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). The students, Cameron Pinchbeck (alto sax) and Aili Nell Charland (guitar), improvised and performed an amazing piece. They started with Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”, and their improvisation took them to a totally new work. Tom said: “I think that this is a great example of what can happen when you give students choice, and help them to believe that their story is worth telling.”


Midcoast Music Academy (MCMA) is a community music school founded in January 2012 and located in downtown Rockland, Maine that provides the highest quality music instruction to students of all ages and skill levels in a fun, relaxed, and creative environment. MCMA emphasizes access to music education regardless of financial constraints and combines the fundamentals of music – theory, notation, and ear training – with a contemporary approach to learning. At MCMA, we believe students should learn to play what they love and love what they play.
If you have questions please contact Tom Luther and Joe Cough.

MALI Teaching Artist Leader Story: Kerry Constantino

February 19, 2019

Teaching Artist – Dancer

This is one of six blog posts in 2019 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 8 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 96 Teacher Leaders and 11 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 Kerry for sharing your story!

Kerry Constantino

Kerry Constantino began teaching dance to kids right out of college when she graduated college in 2003. Even though she really enjoyed teaching, Kerry felt like she needed more time and experience just creating art. She stepped away from teaching and turned her focus towards developing her technique, studying movement and choreographic theory, and participating in the practice and creation of dance for herself and others. Nearly a decade later, Kerry found herself wanting to teach again, so she applied and was accepted in the San Diego Young Audiences Teaching Artist Training, where she re-learned a lot of things that would prepare her for her role as  a teaching artist. And, she loved it! Kerry really feel at home working with all members of the community. Whether through a school residency or at a private studio, she finds that working with dancers of all ages is so satisfying.

What do you like best about being a teaching artist?

I love being a teaching artist because people, especially young people, are natural dancers.           Giving people permission to move, when so often in a school and work setting, we are told to stay sedentary, is one of my greatest joys.

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

I have no idea what would be the key to having a successful arts education, however, I think the thing that stops people from having a successful arts education is a pressure from society that the arts are not valid, or that they are superfluous. The arts give us tools to be creative problem solvers, to think three-dimensionally, and to have the confidence to improvise if we need to. I think all kinds of industries and workplace environments benefit when there are artists at the table.

Have you found assessment to be helpful in your classes, workshops and residencies, and if so, how?

Assessment is part and parcel to being a teaching artist. Whether I’m teaching 3 year olds or 70 year olds, having tools to assess how my students are understanding me is important. When teaching dance, so much is dependent on being a clear communicator, I want my students to dance articulately, safely, and joyfully. Knowing how much of my information is getting across is accomplished through using assessment throughout class.

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

I have loved my experiences learning with the other educators in the MALI. It has been inspirational to hear their stories and learn from what they are currently practicing in their classrooms. Learning from other teachers and seeing how they organize and strategize their teaching techniques is invaluable.

What are you most proud of as an artist and/or a teaching artist?

I think what I am most proud of in my art is that I haven’t gotten stuck with just one medium. I began as a dancer, but over the years I have continued to be a voracious learner in many different mediums. I don’t think I will ever be satisfied just practicing and teaching one thing, there is so much more to learn. As I have learned new mediums I’ve incorporated it into my own art and into my teaching as well. Sometimes it feels like I’m a bit of a “Jack of all trades” it’s during those times that I remind myself that if I stop learning new things, then I have stopped growing.

Kerry Constantino

What gets in the way of doing a better job as a teaching artist?

I think that the biggest challenge for me as a teaching artist is navigating the process of finding residencies. I still feel really new to teaching, so I’m hoping this gets easier the more that I do it. I tend to retreat a bit when it comes to pursuing residencies because I feel like there are other people who are doing what I do, but with more experience and better. I talk myself out of things a lot and I think this is all born out of fear.

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

Everything. I have spent years pushing and finding a way to continue as a dancer and movement artist. Sometimes it feels too hard, like if being a dancer and choreographer is this hard, then I just shouldn’t do it, but for some crazy reason I keep going. Every piece of choreography I have shown, every informal performance, every single time I have made dance and shown it there has been a period during my creative process that has felt impossible.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a teaching artist or is just starting out?

Go for it! Practice saying what you want to say to your students before you are actually in front of a class. Write down everything. Get a calendar and use it. Don’t worry if you get flustered on the first day and forget your whole lesson plan, you will be ok!

MALI Summer Institute, August 2018, USM

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

There is so much I could do with $500,000. I have always hoped to own a home that would have a dance/art/movement studio in it. Dance requires a lot of open space, so I think that would be a big thing for me, to have a proper studio where I could hold classes and have informal performances in my own home. One of my first dance teachers lived in a huge old victorian house and the “ballroom” was her dance studio. It is definitely a dream of mine to do that. Oh, and more travel, I have terrible wanderlust.

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

If I make it to be 94, I hope that I can see that all of my choices were what made my long beautiful life. I can’t say there would be any regrets at this point.


Because of Art

February 18, 2019


I couldn’t help but think about the value of everyone having access to a quality arts education program while watching this film. I’m sure you’ll consider this as well if you take a few minutes to view it.

“What they should have sent was poets because I don’t think we captured in its entirety the grandeur of what we had seen.” 

~ Frank Borman, Commander of Apollo 8, December 27, 1958

In 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts Bill Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell took the first journey beyond Earth’s orbit. Earthrise tells the story of the image they captured of the Earth. The film recounts the astronauts’ experiences and explores the beauty, awe, and grandeur of the Earth against the blackness of space. The Earthrise photograph had an everlasting impact on the astronauts and humanity, offering a powerful perspective that transcended national, political, and religious boundaries.

Could the Earthrise photograph, 50 years later, become a symbol of remembrance that unites us as global citizens? Watch the film below.

CLICK HERE – film from the Global Oneness Project.


Once Upon a Time

February 17, 2019

Folk Art Studio course for kids

Once upon a time… the beginning of a fairy tale starts with a big beautiful initial letter. Today we will work with the first letter of your name to create a beautiful ornamental letter/monogram in celebration of hand made typography. We will create our own decorative initial cap font using colored pencils and markers. We’ll start out with a brief history of letters, look at a few examples from past to present and then take off on our own journey exploring myriad ways to embellish, flourish and design our own abstract or floral initial letter. If you have a favorite pen or marker you use, bring it with you.

Design work by Jessica Hische

Folk Art Studio at Fiber & Vine, 402 Main Street, Norway is offering Once Upon a Time class on March 16. The course is being taught by Virginia Valdes who is the Graphic Design and Digital Imaging instructor at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris.

March 16 – Session 1 | Ages 6-8 | 10am-12pm Session 2 | Ages 9-12 | 1pm-3pm Tuition $35 | Scholarships available

Register before March 9 at


Making Guacamole

February 16, 2019

Academy Award nomination 

Adam Pesapane, known by the pseudonym PES, is an Oscar and Emmy-nominated American director and stop-motion animator of numerous short films and commercials. In 2013, his short film Fresh Guacamole was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. It is the shortest film ever nominated for an Oscar.


Monhegan Artists’ and Educator Residency

February 15, 2019

Applications for Program Now Open 

Raegan Russsel View Across Manana, oil on canvas, 2018, Oil on panel, 12 x 16 inches

MONHEGAN—The Monhegan Artists’ Residency is pleased to announce its 2019 residency programs. Residencies are available to Maine-based visual artists during the weeks of May 25 to June 28, and September 4 to October 8. To accommodate the summer schedule of Maine K-12 teachers, there is also a two-week residency from June 29 to July 12 open exclusively to art teachers. Applications are now being accepted ONLINE through March 17.

Raegan Russell is the Visual Art Department Chair at the Berwick Academy in South Berwick, and was the 2018 Monhegan Art Teacher Resident. Asked about her time at the residency, she said, “My the time on Monhegan led me to address many questions in my work about painting and the role of observational painting. I came back to painting representationally, and thought about how to express not only the subject matter of the island, but also my internal landscape while painting”.

Photo by Justin Richel

She added, “the community of artists and the history of the people of Monhegan resonates with me still. After my residency I came back twice this summer to share Monhegan with my family and to just return- I missed it so much after I left! I know that I will come back to Monhegan again and again- as a painter and as a part of the community.” More or her work can be seen at

Not just for landscape painters, the Monhegan Artists’ Residency is open to artists working in new media, photography, sculpture, drawing, painting, and multi-media.  This year’s jurors include photographer Margo Halverson, chair of the graphic design program of the Maine College of Art; the Portland painter and art instructor John Knight; and Rockland-based artist and arts administrator, Leith MacDonald of the Farnsworth’s Wyeth Study Center.

Founded in 1989, the Monhegan Artists’ Residency program is a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by donors, art galleries, corporate sponsors, and foundation grants.      

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