Archive for March 13th, 2019


Joao Victor Reciting

March 13, 2019

And the final call

Check out the 2019 Maine State Poetry Out Loud Champion reciting and the end of the state finals when Joao was announced as the champ on the Maine Arts Commission Facebook page.

Joao on the news on WGME TV, listen to how inspired he was by last year’s champion Allan Monga.


MALI Teacher Leader Story: Catherine Newell

March 13, 2019

Music Educator 

This is the last 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 Anthony for sharing your story!

Catherine teaching

Catherine Chesley Newell is a music educator who calls herself a “Once-And-Future Elementary Music Teacher”, because that’s what she was before she had her daughter and what she plans to do again in the future. Recently Catherine said: “Right now I have the supreme joy of teaching music with small groups of children ages 2-5 at Beansprouts Early Learning Center in Freeport. From a child development standpoint, this has been the most fascinating part of my career!”


What do you like best about being a music educator?

The magic of making a song or a rhyme or a movement artful. Children’s hands become beehives or sparks or stuck in the mud. A word becomes a laugh, a shout, or a sigh. A song becomes a declaration, an adventure, or maybe a wish. Everything is transformed by imagination into what is needed in that moment. What could be better than that?

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

A passion for learning and growth, delight in the success of others, and flexibility. Maybe not THE three keys, but they’re certainly my keys.

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

If I don’t know where my students are, I can’t lift them up to where they want to go next. Assessment has an undeserved, negative reputation. It needs a rebrand! Assessment isn’t the problem; the problem is when some administrators and politicians think the data gathered should be used to punish educators.

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

There’s nothing like spending time with other passionate educators. I come away feeling energized and motivated and full of hope and inspiration. This has been one of the very best things I have been part of and I am so excited to continue our work.

What are you most proud of in your career?

All of the times I was afraid to try something new and did it anyway, or worked through a challenging experience. Especially if it was particularly scary (public speaking leaps to mind!) or the stakes were high. Those are the times I’ve grown the most as a person, musician, and educator.

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

There so very many misconceptions about who is and who is not a musical person or learner. I find that reshaping perception around this is challenging work!

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

My transformation from a “band person” to a “little kids” person. I worked incredibly hard at the Kodály Music Institute to develop the skills I use today. I spent a good part of three years learning repertoire, solfege, pedagogy, and analyzing music. I studied until one or two in the morning every night of my summer sessions in Boston. It was wonderful and worthwhile and I loved it, but it was some of the hardest academic work I’ve ever done. It was, however, luck that landed me in a district that (despite having limited means) supported my summer study. Our local Maine Education Association chapter did a wonderful job negotiating a contract that prioritized professional development!

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

Keep growing, keep learning, but take care of yourself, too. Say no when you need to, accept help when you can, and rejoice in your achievements harder than you dwell on your disappointments. Long-term goals are wonderful to have, but the climb is a lot easier if you celebrate along the way!

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

A good friend of mine passed away at 26 from a lifelong, chronic disease. Her greatest wish was to live long enough to get to be a music teacher. I have long thought that if I ever became fabulously wealthy, I would start a fund in her name to support music education. I think $500K would probably be a good start!

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

Taking so long to join MALI, of course!

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