Wa-Hoo!!!!! Another Teacher Leader’s Story: THANK YOU ARGY!!!!

June 7, 2019


When some of us on the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) design team thought about what might be a nice sentiment to pay tribute to just some of the work that Argy Nestor has done for Arts Education in the State of Maine, we thought, “What better when to pay tribute then to flip the script, and hack into her world famous Arts Ed Blog and write a teacher leader story about her!”

I realize that no one Blog post would ever say enough “Thank You”, but maybe it will be a start for some of us to to hear about your stories for how Argy has been part of your story.

In 2005 I had moved back to Maine from Minnesota after finishing college, and I had the opportunity to intern at the Maine Arts Commission in the Arts in Education department.  During this experience I had the opportunity to help organize and be part of a summer institute with Arts Educators around the state, and furthermore to meet Argy who was helping plan and facilitate the institute.  Who was this woman who was so passionate, articulate, inspiring, and downright goofy? An Arts teacher who could one moment be discussing the vitality of Arts in schools to bring life and learning to so many students, all the while wearing an oversized pair of sunglasses and a rainbow colored clown hat, and yelling “Wha-Hoo!” every time someone got called up for another door prize!

There is something contagious and special about Argy that I have a hard time wrapping my brain around. It could be something similar to what I learned about her philosophy when she shared the Fish Philosophy video with everyone at the institute, or hearing her mantra of “None of us is as smart as all of us.”  She exudes a sense of togetherness. She fosters a love of learning and a sense of positivity through all obstacles.

Since that point, she has been an integral part of my own journey as a music educator, and it has been an honor and a privilege to get to know her, and work with her in a variety of settings. I know she will always be there to listen, and not just to hear and respond. She stops and listens, and I feel like I am part of her family.

Transition Ticket

Many of us have done exit tickets in classes before, and Argy has used these often at conferences to gain feedback and find out what is on our minds and hearts.  I know this is not an exit ticket for Argy. She is on to new and different things, and I know no matter where she is, and what she is doing, her superhuman powers will be used for good to make a difference in this world, and especially in the world of Arts Education!

I for one am so very grateful for all that Argy has done, and will continue to do for me in my life and my career.  I hope with this post that we can all find a way to let Argy know what impact she has had on us, and help tell this story of how she has impacted so many hearts and minds. Since this is not an exit ticket for Argy, I am calling this a Transition Ticket. I asked some others who have been impacted by Argy to contribute to this story.  Here are a few other responses.

There are so many ways that she has impacted my life. I have grown tremendously as an art educator and as a teacher leader due to Argy’s relentless belief in my abilities, endless support and open honesty, love and kindness. I learned that I have ideas that are important to share, and I have learned to speak up, to collaborate with other arts educators and connect, to respect and bond, to grow and expand my teaching practice and to take on leadership roles. My life has clearly been enriched having known Argy. I am a happier, wiser, more collaborative arts educator due to her influence and support. – Jennie Driscoll VISUAL ART 9-12 Brunswick High School

She is an inspirational model of leadership, grace, and inclusiveness. – Bronwyn Sale, Lecturer in Education: Bates College

Argy has consistently reinforced for me, through word and deed, that every action taken with an “I can and we will” attitude is the most efficient and effective route to results. – Sue Barre, MUSIC 5-12 Waterville Senior High School

Argy has been a positive, strong role model for me.  Argy has believed in me as a music educator. No matter how frustrated I became trying to create presentations or logic models at MALI gatherings, she encouraged me to continue on.  And when I finally presented or successfully completed a plan, she was right there to celebrate with me – like I was the only one who had ever done anything spectacular! She has inspired me to continue my work with our smaller group entitled EM4ME (Elementary Music for Maine.)  With that said, I will carry on with my work and my strong belief of the importance of the arts in children’s lives! Thanks for believing in me, Argy! – Cynthia Keating, MUSIC K-2  Village Elementary School

BA and AA The fact that there is a “Before Argy and After Argy” qualifying time in my life. – Suzanne Goulet, VISUAL ART 9-12 Waterville Senior High School

Argy is one of a kind. She inspires me to be a better listener, leader, advocate, educator, mentor and friend. She is quick to support, kind and thoughtful in her comments and wise, so very wise! She made me feel like a million bucks when she would listen and then say, “So what I hear you saying is…. ” and then repeat my idea in a more succinct way. HA! I love that she values all people, all opinions, all perspectives. She models what it is like to be a lifelong learner, to make mistakes and to learn from them.  Argy is the very definition of community. She has been the heart of MALI and her presence will be felt for a very long time. I wish her the very best on her new journey! – Kate Smith, Central School South Berwick PreK-3 Music

Argy’s sign off on her messages and letters says it all: “Make it a great day!” Not, “Have a nice day”, but “Make it a great day.” This message to all of us about being in charge of our own destiny, about having a positive attitude, about making a difference, and I would add, respecting and hearing the voices of others working collaboratively to achieve common goals, is the life lesson I’ve learned just by being around Argy. She has been an invaluable gift and has become a lifelong friend. – Catherine Ring Arts Education Consultant and Executive Director, New England Institute for Teacher Education

Argy is one of the most inspirational leaders I have met in education. She has a firm grasp of the difficulties educators face daily and helps them meet those challenges head on through her experience and intelligence. She is deeply vested in in both arts and education in the community and has been a huge asset to arts leadership in Maine and beyond. – Emma A. Campbell, DANCE 9-12 Thornton Academy, Saco

Argy challenged and encouraged me to take risks and pursue ideas that improved my teaching and leadership skills. – Hope Lord, VISUAL ART 6-8 Maranacook Community Middle

OMG the joy, love and inspiration she has brought to my life is beyond measurable both professionally and personally! – Janie Snider, VISUAL ART K-8  Hancock Grammar School

Oh so many ways…she has pushed me to be my best self and also supported my mistakes as a path to learning. Argy has asked me to step up and always supported me as an individual and encouraged me to be a collaborator.  – Lindsay Pinchbeck, Sweetland School, Director and Teacher

Always supportive, encouraging and reminds us to thank others. – Dianne Fenlason, MUSIC 6-12 Spruce Mountain Middle School

Argy has impacted my life profoundly. When I attended my first MALI workshop, I was expected to receive professional development, but what I received was more than I could imagine! I found a family, inspiration, confidence, creativity, and so much more. I have grown so much as an educator and person since meeting Argy Nestor, and I know this to be true for others as well. Her passion, dedication, and care has permeated into her work, and has truly impacted us all.    – Dorothy Tripp, MUSIC K-5 Manchester and Readfield Ele Schools

She has gently pushed me past my comfort level to explore new things in my teaching practice. – Allie Rimkunas,  VISUAL ART K-5 Great Falls Elementary School

Argy has impacted my life because now I am teaching in a school that I love and have met incredible people who are as passionate about the arts as I am. I am a better teacher because of her beliefs in arts leadership philosophy of: “Arts being at the table”. With her energy she has made people feel valued for what they do and has helped so many with arts advocacy in their schools. She is such a role model! -Leah Olson, VISUAL ART 9-12 Ellsworth High School

There are very few people who have impacted my life as profoundly as Argy. She has given me the professional confidence to make changes in my classroom, my school, my community and hopefully beyond in ways that have had enormous benefits for a lot of kids! -Jennifer Etter, MUSIC 5-8 York Middle School

There’s an entire horizon to this profession I had never seen or even considered before I met Argy. She adjusted – and challenged – the way I view things, the way I think of and approach things, and she further developed my empathy for others. To have been under the influence of Argy is to have had your life changed. What a blessing to me that I have worked with her as a friend and colleague. I cannot imagine this personal and professional journey without her. -Rob Westerberg, MUSIC 9-12 York High School

Argy’s tireless work in support of teaching artists has given me opportunities to refine and share my own work in dance and creativity, as well as to provide guidance and leadership to other teaching artists trying to teach in the public schools and get their own work out there. -John Morris, Teaching Artist, Dance

Argy’s enthusiasm for and knowledge of Arts Education has had a huge impact on me and my teaching. -Samantha Armstrong, VISUAL ART K-6 Paris Elementary School

Profoundly. She has been encouraging and supportive in my efforts to be a better educator and artist. I routinely quote her to my students – “lean in” and “process before product”. -Tom Luther MUSIC Teaching Artist, Union

Helped me to create a community of people who value the arts. – Alice Sullivan, MUSIC K-12                         Woodland/Princeton

I think Alice’s comment about community is so integral to Argy’s passion and life work.  Connection and building community is so important and I think is greatly valued by Argy, which is illustrated in all of the communities that she has helped build.  The impact that Argy has had and continues to have will make for one amazing teacher leader story! If you would like to tell part of this story of how Argy has impacted your life feel free to contribute to this transition ticket, which will be shared with Argy.

When I was at that Summer Institute with Argy back in 2005 I wrote this poem that I think in some ways captures how I was inspired by Argy through this sense of community.


Not I

Not Me

Can you see?

It’s you

And I

Who try to be

Us and we

They and Them

Try to be

Just as I and you

So they try

As we do

And find-


To you and I



And them

Are now

Us and We

In our new

By Jake Sturtevant MUSIC 9-12, Falmouth High School



  1. Wow! Argy, you must be overcome when you read all of these incredible comments about your positive impacts on all the teacher leaders who have impacted all of THEIR students by modeling for them what they have learned from you! Again- Wow! I am proud to have you as a dear friend for all of these many years!

  2. Thank you Gay for your comments and your support from over these many years.

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