Archive for May, 2020


2020 Books Challenge

May 31, 2020


I think this is a great project! I’ve had the opportunity to help support this effort and it is so wonderful to get books into the hands of many children who simply don’t have any or very few books at home. I invite you to participate! If everyone gives a little there will certainly be a lot!
Educate Maine launched the 2,020 Books Challenge on March 27 with the goal of getting 2,020 books into students’ hands while supporting our local bookstores.

As of mid-May, we’ve raised $6,575 for local booksellers statewide. The challenge has also spurred book donations from other nonprofit organizations, individuals, and publishers and at least 8,000 books have been donated directly, and counting!

In addition, we are excited to announce a generous $5,000 MATCHING GRANT from the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein. Every donation of a gift card for the next $5,000 will be DOUBLED thanks to this donation!
Will you help us reach 2,020 books – that’s $20,200 to bookstores – before the end of the school year in just a few weeks? You can contribute by purchasing a gift card to your favorite bookstore and notifying us of it through THIS FORM.


May 31, 2020



MALI 2020

May 30, 2020

Summer Institute

MALI 2020 Summer Institute: Quarantine Edition is happening! Yes it will look different. Still FREE! Even amidst constant change the MALI Program Design Team is developing a very dynamic and timely series of virtual Professional Development offerings this summer.

The featured speaker is a leader in the field of Leadership and Resilience, Larry McCullough of the Pinetree Institute in Eliot, who will be speaking about cutting edge research on the balance between adverse and positive childhood experiences, and a framework for VPA classroom strategies to meet that balance.    In additional to a Leadership trainer, Larry has been a professional dancer, dance instructor, and classroom educator with a Masters in Arts Education.
This year’s Institute will explore
  • Leading with Resilience;
  • Embedding Social and Emotional Learning in our Teaching, Ourselves, and Our Communities;
  • Arts Advocacy.  
Deadline for Applications: June 1 – direct link:
Application for new participants.
About Larry McCullough
Dr. Larry McCullough is Founder and Executive Director of Pinetree Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Eliot, Maine, established in 2012 to promote the well-being of individuals, families and communities. with particular focus on addressing issues related to ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and the buffering effect of Positive Experiences in approaches to trauma-informed care.  Pinetree Institute offers workshops at its learning center at Pinetree Farm in Eliot and a wide variety of community-based programs in the Seacoast NH / Southern Maine region. 
In addition to his work with Pinetree Institute, Larry has over 30 years experience working with major corporations, governmental agencies and non-profit organizations in the areas of leadership development, change management, and strategic planning.  Since 2011 Larry has served as lead designer and a lead facilitator for the highly acclaimed Experienced Leadership Program at Ford Motors which combines elements of building personal resilience with strategic people leadership.  Another recent key project included a major transformational leadership program for U.S. Veterans Affairs, the largest health care system in the U.S. including over 72,000 managers and supervisors which incorporated aspects of emotional intelligence, personal resilience and organizational culture transformation. 
Larry’s earliest studies were in education and in performing arts during which he received a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from UMass Amherst and taught elementary school.  During and immediately after his teaching work, Larry worked professionally in the performing arts, studying and performing in New York and co-founding a small modern dance theater company in Toronto, Ontario. In this capacity Larry performed original dance theater works in the U.S., Canada and Europe.  During this time he also ran creative arts programs for children and taught dance in several Canadian Universities. Following his dance career Larry returned to UMass Amherst completing a Master’s Degree in Arts Education followed by a Doctorate in Applied Behavioral Sciences.  Prior to his engagement in corporate training, Larry taught Human Development and Early Childhood Education at the University of New Hampshire and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and worked with community agencies in Norfolk to create professional development programs for human services professionals.

Maine DOE Opportunities

May 30, 2020

Provided for you


Commissioner of Education Pender Makin will be hosting a Zoom update on education in Maine during the current pandemic on Tuesday, June 2, from 4:00-5:00.

Please register in advance for this meeting, as there is a 500-person maximum. You can register here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Questions or topics of interest may be submitted in advance by emailing Chief-of -Staff Jessica Nixon at by Tuesday at 8:00 am.

The meeting will be recorded and posted on our website.


The Maine Department of Education invites all interested educators, curriculum leaders, and Maine educational community organizations to join us in designing an a-synchronous library of learning modules in a Maine Learning Results-aligned scope and sequence. These project-based modules will be integrated to ensure that learning is synthesized across traditional subject areas and learning experiences are designed to be mutually reinforcing.

Work will take place beginning June 15th and run throughout the summer with a launch of the website on September 7th. Each participant will be trained in a-synchronous instructional design by Maine DOE digital learning specialists, as well as supported in their content by Maine DOE content specialists. Participants will be expected to produce at least one learning module, but more may be accepted. Stipends will be provided for modules used in the Maine DOE library.

Participants must be Maine educators, including curriculum leaders and Maine educational community organizations.

To register click here.
For more information please contact Beth Lambert, or Page Nichols,


Call for MALI Teacher Leaders

May 29, 2020

Deadline – June 1

Interested in taking on a leadership role in education – the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) might be the right match for you. Click on the images below to make them larger! Don’t hesitate, apply today. Deadline: June 1!



In Today’s News

May 28, 2020

Very special “Taps”

Friends and family stood outside Allen Graffam’s Topsham home Monday to play one last Taps for the longtime band director at Mt. Ararat High School, who died of cancer Saturday. He taught for 35 years at the school before retiring in 2018.

Read the full article and hear Taps played by Allen’s friends, colleagues and students outside his home HERE and my tribute on the blog HEREI found the signs on Allen’s homes heartwarming. Allen’s was a life well lived, gone too soon and well loved.


Bangor Public Library

May 28, 2020

Opportunity for artists – age 18 and older



Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote. In honor of the 100th anniversary of this historic event, the Bangor Public Library is hosting a unique art exhibit. Artists are invited to create a work in honor of this event and submit it for a juried exhibit to be held at the library from September 2020 to January 2021. 

Artists! Put your creativity to work. Think about the impact this ruling has had on women in this country. Think about the impact on all segments of the population. Use your creative voice to help others to know more about this incredible accomplishment! 


Artists will submit original work, one work per artist. Artists must be 18 years old or older.

Artists may use any 2-D media for this project. 

The work itself must be ready to hang in the gallery. 

Artist contact information must be on the back of the submission and must include name, address, phone contact, and email contact information. 

Artists must also complete a submission form to turn in with their work.


The works will be juried and works will be displayed in the library from September 1, 2020 – January 30, 2021, in prominent galleries. 


Due to the pandemic, a number of possibilities have been considered. 

The library does intend to display the work in the galleries. 

Digital images will be taken and the exhibit will be available on the library web site. 

The library plans to display scanned images of the work in downtown Bangor, if possible. 

The library plans to create an exhibit catalogue for each participant. 

A speaker series will help to bring the topic of Woman’s Suffrage to a broader audience. 


The art work and submission form must be delivered to the library on August 30, 2020. 

Because of these times, we may not be able to hold a traditional reception but the library will find a way to honor the artists and their work. 

Works that have been displayed as part of the exhibit should be picked up on February 1, 2021, at the end of the exhibit. 

The library cannot be responsible for lost or damaged art work. 

Any questions? Please contact Candis Joyce at


Teachers Calmness

May 27, 2020

On Top of Everything Else

These days I spend my free time in the garden, walking, and making art. Pretty soon I’ll be spending more time on the water. These are the places and activities that keep me balanced and help me to move forward with my heart in a logical way. I love watching the transformation as the flowers emerge and the vegetables grow. I’m going farther on my morning walk with more light and warmer temperatures. I find myself saying to students ‘yes, this is crazy and it’s OK to not feel OK all the time’. Our feelings are real.

I came across a blog post written by teacher Trevor Muir, I watched a TEDX talk that he gave and I spent some time on his website. I noticed similarities in our philosophy’s. “I believe every student has the potential for greatness. And I believe every educator can be equipped to unlock that potential.” During the pandemic it is more difficult to reach students, to get a clear sense of how they’re doing, and support them and what they’re learning from a distance. I don’t think that anyone will argue that the tools we’re using today are different than what we use in the classroom. I am referring to the ‘tools’ of communication more than the ‘tools’ we use to teach like the piano and paint.

Many of you remember, and perhaps were teaching, on 9/11. Some of you were students on November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I remember both very clearly. I remember the conversations and my teachers and colleagues responses. I was in 4th grade in 1963 and my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Richardson stood in the doorway and calmly gave us the news. With an even and very kind voice she answered my classmates questions and helped us get ready for early dismissal. On 9/11 I was the one who needed a calm and kind voice to support my middle schoolers.

Today our students need that calm and kind voice like never in my lifetime. They need to know that we’re here for them. We know that behind every behavior there is a reason. We know that what we see today on zoom may be very different tomorrow. It might take more than the daily or weekly class check ins to get a sense of what’s going on, especially for those who are absent or simply not fulfilling assignments. It may take texts, emails, phone calls, a drive by or some other form of communication to let them know that you are calm and kind and ‘here for them’. If they’re having fears they won’t be expressing them easily on a zoom meeting or perhaps not at all.

You’ve read in my weekly email over and over

Most importantly, I hope you’re being kind to yourself! Do whatever you can and don’t feel bad about what you’re not doing.

That’s the bottom line and if you’re taking care of yourself than you can be there for your students. I suggest that you take time to journal or make art about this important role that you have using Trevor Muir’s questions might help you unpack your present teacher role:

  • What does it mean to be calm in crisis?
  • How can I exude and model this calm with my students?
  • How can I give my students the opportunity to voice their fear and anxiety in a safe way?
  • What am I doing to preserve my own mental health as I pour out so much energy for my students?

As we move into warmer weather and the school year comes to an end we know that some students are ‘just done’! Teachers as well. But we’re not done with the pandemic so we still need to – in a kind and steady way -explore our role as teachers! We’re fortunate that we don’t have to do this alone, we can depend on colleagues.


Sebago Arts Festival

May 26, 2020


Sebago Elementary School arts staff had plans to continue a school wide arts festival this spring but due to COVID-19 plans were halted. But music teachers Jenni Null and Lindsay Waller and art teacher Brenda McGuinness weren’t going to let that stop them from providing a virtual extravaganza and that they did! You can view Sebago Virtual Arts Festival. Thank you to Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader and instrumental music educator Jenni Null for sharing the story below.

In 2018, the town of Sebago withdrew from the Lake Region School District. I retired as the Fine Arts Coordinator in Lake Region that same year, (where we had a longtime history of a District Arts Festival), and brought the idea with me to the newly formed Sebago School District where I continued to teach instrumental music to fourth and fifth graders. Our new Art and Music teachers were totally onboard, so last year, we had a school wide Arts Festival to celebrate both Youth Art Month and Music-in-Our-Schools Month. The event was so well-received in the community that two years later in 2020 we wanted to keep the tradition going. COVID-19 was not going to stop us!
Our Visual Art teacher, having experienced the traditional festival last year, knew what to expect this time around. She was extremely organized  and took photos of class projects during the year. When COVID struck and we transitioned to remote learning, she had most of what she needed, with the supplement of some student work that was returned to her in April. She also had an ongoing relationship with professional artists in the town, one of whom is on our School Board, Wendy Newcomb, an accomplished painter. They kindly added their amazing work to our virtual festival.
The music piece was a bit more problematic. We normally would have an entire class playing recorders, and performances of the Chorus, Grade 4, and Grade 5 Bands. Now, however, that was not possible and we music teachers had to rely on individual performances from our students. As you might imagine, some were reticent about doing this, some were very enthusiastic, and others needed prodding. What I love about our performances here, is that they represent all levels and stages of readiness. Some are so polished, some not so much, but in the end this is so representative as to what a performance program is all about. It’s the continuum of progression in regard to skills. In this case, the students took the initiative to create and submit their videos on their own.
I will always remember this with a lot of nostalgia. Toward the end of the performance section is “Misty” performed by my former students now in 8th grade, and a mom of the twin boys who is a fifth grade teacher and accomplished musician in her own right. They are well known in the town of Sebago, and I view them as an inspiration to my current students as to what practice and perseverance can achieve.
The finale is by the accomplished dancer/mime artist, Karen Montanaro who lives in nearby Casco and has provided us with her expertise as a teaching artist in past years. Her performance, What a Wonderful World, seemed like the parting message we wanted to convey to our virtual audience. I hope you enjoy our show!



Honoring Allen Graffam

May 25, 2020

One amazing educator

I had the pleasure of meeting Allen Graffam many years ago at a conference. I knew immediately that he was an educator with integrity, completely dedicated to his Mt. Ararat High School students on multiple levels. Sadly, Allen passed away on May 23rd from cancer.

Allen understood the meaning of the importance of relationships, the way he taught, learned, coached, performed with the Blue Hill Brass, and lived his life. A piece of Allen will live on in his music students, the athletes he guided on the softball field, and the many other students and adults he inspired throughout his life. Allen’s many contributions and commitment to education are appreciated throughout Maine. In the words of one of his students: “I truly don’t know anyone who didn’t wholeheartedly appreciate this man. He inspired so many who shared his love of music to keep following that passion. He touched more lives than we can count, bettering all of us in so many ways.” Thank you Allen!

In honor of Allen, I’m including two videos. The first is Allan singing ‘What a Wonderful Life’ in 2012 with the Blue Hill Brass which he was also a trumpet player.

The second is a video performed by 30 celebrated trumpet players from 14 different countries. The piece is inspired by Ryan Anthony called ‘A Hope for the Future‘ written by Matt Catingub as a tribute to the true frontline heroes around the globe, health care specialists dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic! It includes classical soloists, jazz artists, educators, and is dedicated to all those around the world who care for us. Allen cared for many during his lifetime!


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