Archive for May, 2021


Congrats Music Educators

May 31, 2021

Awards and recognitions

A big congratulations to the following recipients for their accomplishments! Presented recently by the Maine Music Educators Association

Music Educator of the Year
MAEPLE (Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader)
Dorie Tripp
RSU #38 Maranacook Schools
Hall of Fame
Allen Graffam
Music Educator of the Year
Jon Simonoff
Ashland District School
Hall of Fame
Clinton Graffam
Outstanding New Music Educator
Erin Morrison
Lewiston High School
Music Program
Presque Isle • Mapleton • Chapman • 
Castle Hill • Westfield
Outstanding Administrator
Dr. Becky Foley, Superintendent
RSU5 (Freeport • Durham • Pownal)
Outstanding Administrator
Joel Hall, Principal
Ashland School District

USM Student Opportunities

May 30, 2021

Music and Theatre Camps

USM Summer Youth Music and Theatre Camps are happening this year. Five great camps on the USM Gorham campus. Registration is open, space is limited. We have some changes for 2021 as we recover from the last year. 
Theatre Academy (SMTA) is still an overnight camp, but Youth Band Day Camp (SMYBDC), Music Academy (SoMMA), Choral Academy (SMCMA), and Junior Music Academy (SMJMA) will be commuter camps this year. We’ll have most of the same great faculty as every year, and some new ones we’re excited to work with. 


Below are the five opportunities. Available at the link above you will find downloadable posters to hang in schools and other locations for interested students.

If you have questions please contact Lori Arsenault, University of Southern Maine School of Music.


So Long Eric

May 29, 2021

Author Artist Eric Carle dies

I love the work of Eric Carle and am sad to know he has left this world. Fortunately, his books are an incredible legacy that has provided so much for so many. Eric died earlier this week at the age of 91 from kidney failure in his studio in Massachusetts. He was best known for his classic “A Very Hungry Caterpillar” but he created over 70 children’s books.

His unique paper collage illustration style makes his books distinctive and instantly recognizable. Not only do his books include these collages but his messages are simply written and powerful. With his passing this week, the world has lost not only an artist but a simply lovely human being. A story has gone viral on facebook told by a woman who was touched by Eric’s kindness when her cat went missing. Lara B. Sharp’s story is at THIS LINK.

“Heaven just got more colorful,” Peter H. Reynolds, author and illustrator of “The Dot,” wrote in tribute on Twitter. Carle, he said, “made his mark, splashing bravely and inspiring those around him to do the same.”

Through books like “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” “Do You Want to Be My Friend?” and “From Head to Toe,” Carle introduced universal themes in simple words and bright colors.

“The unknown often brings fear with it,” Carle once observed. “In my books I try to counteract this fear, to replace it with a positive message. I believe that children are naturally creative and eager to learn. I want to show them that learning is really both fascinating and fun.”



May 28, 2021

Amazing performance

Back in 1988, while traveling to Nova Scotia my family, I learned about the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo which is held each summer in Halifax. It was an amazing performance, theatrical in nature with a mixture of both military and civilian performers. I was very impressed, having never seen anything similar before that time. Below I’ve embedded the video of the Top Secret Drum Corps from Basel, Switzerland performing at Basel Tattoo 2012. If you ever have a chance to see one in person, I highly recommend going. I’m certain some students are interested in seeing this video.


Using Pronouns

May 27, 2021

Take a close look

In the fall of 2017 I included a series of six blog posts called Who Are They? Portland Stage that described the education program at that time of Portland Stage. I worked with two of the education staff from Portland Stage, Hannah Cordes and Julianne Shea. Both are positive, upbeat and happy people who have a natural sense of theater education along with their formal education in the area. It was a delight to learn about their programs and work with them. You can search for those posts in the side bar.

Not long afterwards I noticed that people were beginning to use ‘pronouns’ and it dawned on me that I needed to become educated in this area. I couldn’t find anything online or recommended readings so I reached out to Hannah since they were one of the people in my communications that I noticed using pronouns in their ‘signature’. She willingly met for a cup of coffee to discuss the topic. My main goal was to be sensitive and respectful in my blog writing. Hannah’s teaching and advice helped me enormously and I went from asking “what is this all about, will it go away, and how do I get started?” to “OK, this is fairly straightforward to understand and it really is about being respectful.” The other thing I learned and most importantly was it was OK to make mistakes in this area.

Now that I’m back in the classroom and interacting with young people on a regular basis my focus on pronouns is not just important in my writing but also face to face. I was happy to find this quick guide to pronouns recently published online by Upworthy called Why pronouns are important, how to get them right, and what to do if you slip up. Most of what Hannah shared with me five years ago is explained in this piece and spelled out more comprehensively. I notice the use of pronouns today in almost every corner of my world; email signatures, on zoom, in articles, research and books. I remember asking Hannah if she thought this was a fad and would it go away. The answer was no and now I agree. If you’re not comfortable with pronouns and are wondering where to start this guide may be useful. Most importantly, at the heart of using pronouns is being respectful and kind to students, colleagues, families in your professional and personal lives. I’m sure you’ll agree – that’s a good thing!

Respectfully, Argy Nestor, she/her


The Lewis Prize

May 26, 2021

For music

community – collaboration – leadership

Are you an organization that empowers youth through music in after-school and out-of-school settings? Then this opportunity is for you!

The Lewis Prize for Music is now accepting 2022 Accelerator Awards applications. Accelerator Awards are open to Creative Youth Development (CYD) music organizations seeking to influence youth-serving systems so all young people have access to learning, creating, and performing experiences that reflect their culture and identity. 

Applications are open from May 18-July 16, 2021 at 5pm PST.

Connect with UsWe will be hosting informational sessions to help cover any questions you may have about this process.

  • May 27 at 9:30am PT/12:30pm ET, join us for an interactive informational webinar about the application process. Sign up for Webinar #1 Here. 
  • June 10 at 1:30pm PT/4:30pm ET featuring a conversation about key language and intentions in the Application. Sign Up for Webinar #2 Here.
  • June 24 at 1:30pm PT/4:30pm ET featuring 2021 Accelerator Awardee DeLashea Strawder of the Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit describing the experience of going through the entire Lewis Prize application process. Sign Up for Webinar #3 Here.



Congratulations Sarah

May 25, 2021

Hancock County Teacher of the Year Sarah Doremus

The Maine Teacher of the Year process is extensive which includes writing, interviewing, and sharing about what is most important to teachers. It provides an opportunity for teachers to consider every aspect of the details of teaching. The 2021 county teachers of the year were recently announced and art teacher Sarah Doremus was named the Hancock Teacher of the Year. Sarah, along with the other 15 county teachers are eligible for the 2022 Maine State Teacher of the Year. Maine Teacher of the Year is a program of the Department of Education and is administered by Educate Maine.

Sarah teaches at Sedgwick Elementary School and recently provided her story in an interview for the Maine Arts Education blog. I’m sure you’ll join me in congratulating Sarah and once you read this will understand why Sarah was selected. Included in this post are amazing examples of student work as well as Sarah’s own art. I’m so proud that an arts teacher has been selected and I know that Sarah will represent us well in her role.


I love the fact that it is different every day. I love that I work with little people who have yet to see limitations in what they can do and are eager to try anything. I love that my job allows me to make a living doing what I love to do.

Making trophies – “Loan Shark”


One of my favorite stories was a decade in the making. My first teaching position was in Massachusetts at an alternative middle school for kids who had a difficult time mainstreaming into public school. I taught jewelry and had a student who was fascinated with metal, fabrication and design. He took every art class offered and I was able to hire him as a work study (a practice common at the school). When he graduated he applied for and got accepted at Mass College of Art (my alma mater). After graduation he went to UMASS Dartmouth and earned his MFA in metals. I teach adult learners at a jewelry school outside of Boston and during his training in college he served as a Teaching Assistant for me. Recently I took a class at the school taught by him. I love this story because it is an example of “teaching full circle”. I taught him and now he is teaching me!  

I realize where I teach now (elementary school) I learn as much from my students, if not more, as they learn from me. Student interest and curiosity informs our curriculum development. Our school works to integrate curriculum between subjects. 

Voodoo dolls of the teachers and staff


There is a connection to STEM and that is STEAM. Which includes art in the equation (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). My own art work addresses a wide range of subjects; from phobias to politics. My work is narrative so I want there to be a message which also works well with my teaching. I like using what the students are learning in their other classes to inform what we do in art. Having an added class of STEAM allows for even more integration.

  • Example 1: Students made whirligigs that represent non-violent world leaders and displayed them in front of the school. In science class they were studying force and motion and in social studies class they were studying civil rights leaders. It made sense for them to use what they were learning in other classes to create a whirligig installation.
  • Example 2: Students learned about plastic pollution and its effect on our ocean (many of our students have parents who make their living by fishing). We teamed with Haystack Fablab to teach the students  Scratch (a coding program) which they used to tell a story about the problem. We teamed with Alison Chase Dance Company to create a performance piece about ocean plastics and had scheduled an environmental artist from North Carolina to come up to create a pot warp (lobster bait rope) sculpture with the school and community. (Unfortunately Covid tabled the plan.) 
  • Example 3: Learning about what challenges face those who are differently abled we invited a blind alumnus to talk about braille and made copper braille alphabet plaques. We cast student hands in American sign language. Both were exhibited in our school lobby. 
  • Example 4: We invited a naturalist to come to talk to students about our vernal pool and right now I am preparing a class to investigate the caddisfly- Nature’s Engineers. The larval stage builds cases around themselves out of the detritis from pool floor for protection. At the conclusion of our study students will be asked to become caddisfly larvae and will use strips of cardboard, twine and egg cartons to build a larvae case around themselves. As much as possible I try to bring the community into the school to share their expertise. What we teach in school is so greatly enriched by having those that DO what we teach come and tell about it.
Cast hands in American Sign Language


It is weird to be talking so much publicly about what I do in the classroom and at first I was a little embarrassed and shy but then I thought this could be a platform to advocate for what I believe in: project based learning and curriculum integration. I watched a Netflix show titled Abstract About Artists, Designers, Etc. and one episode was featuring a toy designer. She created these amazing toys and talked about a Chinese School where a new method of learning was being tried. It’s called Anji Play, where students are given building materials and set loose to explore, invent and create. It was fabulous! That probably would not fly in American public schools yet but I would like to see more inventive approaches to education. The Teacher of the Year process allows one to talk to other teachers and share new ideas and learn from the ideas of others. We don’t get much of that in our day to day teaching.

Solar cars


I never intended to be a teacher. I don’t really think I ever knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. First, a nun, after watching “The Sound of Music” but then a firefighter. My career seemed to hop around like that until I started teaching at Sedgwick. I never could decide because there are so many options. I started college as a nursing major switched to chemistry and ended up with a BS in Art History. I got my Masters in Environmental Studies and went back to college and got a BA in Fine Arts. I started teaching when a friend  on the school board suggested I apply.  Initially I thought I would rather gnaw my arm off then work with little kids all day but summers off and health insurance were really appealing and I thought it could be a fun challenge. Now I can’t think of anything I would rather do. I have a very understanding wife and we have 3 amazing grown kids. We live with 2 dogs on Deer Isle up a mile long dirt driveway where I have a studio

empusta ugitfa or tempus fugit or time flies – Kinetic ring


As a sculptor, I work with my hands and in all honesty I think with my hands too. The texture, density, consistency and malleability of a material are its language and that language is what I find rewarding in the use of mixed media. I look to the inherent qualities of a material and try to manipulate them to my end.

I like to use my work to create a sort of tongue in cheek play on the human condition. Using words, puns or expressions in combination with physical representation of form I want to poke fun at our collective angst-ridden human condition: Not to minimize or diminish its impact but rather put it in perspective and by doing so remove the perceived anxiety; Basically, to render it impotent.

Most recently I have been interested in kinetic art especially kinetic jewelry. My work suggests sculpture that is ostensibly meant to be worn. Using found objects, doll parts and metal I make small scale pieces that are intended to comment on body adornment and ornamentation, both functional and otherwise. I’ve noticed that cell phones, and personal electronic equipment have become so commonplace that they are taking on the mantle of jewelry; jewelry that has a function and perceived necessity. My work questions this norm by functioning in a way that is both absurd and completely unnecessary.

 Barbie meets Sisyphus – Kinetic ring
 Hands up, don’t shoot
Fur lined wedding rings

Thank you Sarah for taking the time to share your amazing story. Sarah can be reached at


The Art of Education University

May 24, 2021

Learning opportunities for art teachers


The Art of SEL is a limited-run podcast about connecting social-emotional learning to what we already do every day in our teaching. Throughout eight episodes, Jonathan Juravich and his guests will explore how we can help ourselves and our students understand emotions, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and why that understanding is crucial right now.

Each episode is based on one of the core competencies of SEL, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making, with practical applications at every turn for you and your students. The first episode was released on Monday, May 17th.

Find The Art of SEL podcast and get started listening to the informative content that the Art of Education University is providing.


Art teachers world-wide are invited to attend the summer conference provided by The Art of Education University on July 29. Enjoy a day full of artmaking, creativity, and discovery with thousands of art teachers from around the world—all without leaving your home! You’ll walk away with loads of inspired ideas, resources, and downloads you can immediately implement into your art room.

Highlights include:

  • Highly-engaging, fast-paced TED Talk-style presentations full of real-world, practical art room strategies.
  • Connect with over 2,000 art teachers from around the world!
  • Over 20 highly-practical and relevant art ed presentations, handpicked and expertly curated by AOEU.
  • Useful downloads ensure you can actually put the tips and strategies you learn to use right away in your real-world art room.




May 23, 2021

Black History Resources

Teacher2Teacher gathered resources for teachers on Black History. Below are some of those resources on relevant topics for today’s teachers. These were originally provided during Black History month but educators understand that this topic should not be limited to one part of the year only. I recommend that you have some time before clicking on the links below. You’ll be sure find plenty of ideas that will lead you to more ideas.


  • Arts Education and African American history, a collection of resources from the Kennedy Center ArtsEdge. ArtsEdge has reorganized their digital resources and I’m sure you’ll find their data base filled with resources you can use on the topic and beyond.
  • Resources from Smithsonian Education Black History feature various collections, from “The Blues and Langston Hughes” to “Harlem Renaissance: A Reading List.” It’s a great place to let your students explore primary sources, and there is something for students of all ages.
  • The Library of Congress has lesson plans for teachers and primary sources for students to explore, including artwork, baseball cards, political cartoons, and photographs. Also be sure to check out the Library’s civil rights-themed collection.
  • PBS includes an article about the documentary film titled More Than a Month about why Black History Month should not only be one month – the coldest and shortest month of the year. The young filmmakers cross country story focuses on the four components: education, history, identity, and commercialism.
  • Scholastic provides useful resources for arts educators on African American Heritage. Arts and culture resources including the History of Jazz with Wynton Marsalis.
  • National Education Association: Integrating African-American Culture & History into Your Curriculum. Resources on and about poets including The Poet’s Voice: Langston Hughes and You.

Find more in this Edutopia article written by Matt Davis.

In this ASCD article Historical Black Excellence Provides a Blueprint for Reimagining Education you’ll find Gholdy Muhammad’s review of the reality of the inequities in the education system for black and brown children. Gholdy has been studying the history of African American education and literacy development in the U.S. from the 19th century forward. The article provides a deep look at the facts from the past that frame the what and why of today’s curriculum.

UnboundEd provides a anti-racist tool kit – a set of resources to help school communities disrupt inequity by inspiring reflections, conversations, and actions on issues of race, racism, and bias. There are several resources within the .pdf toolkit that are downloadable.

A valuable article called The Do’s and Don’ts of Teaching Black History from Learning for Justice. I find that the Learning for Justice website is very valuable to support teaching and learning.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Washington, D.C. Sergii Figurnyi –

Art in the Oval

May 22, 2021

Telling a story

This is an interesting article from the New York Times written by Larry Buchanan and Matt Stevens and published on May 5. They review the history of the choices of US Presidents for art work in the Oval Office. Paintings and sculptures, the choices and placement. Not only do the authors provide this information but it is done interactively. A great use of technology to help you imagine what relatively few people have the opportunity to see in person. In 1995 I have the chance to visit with President Clinton in the Oval Office and my time there was relatively short. The moments there were exciting and considering what art work was in place was not part of my thinking. I hope you find this article interesting and will consider sharing with colleagues and most importantly your students. Most ages would enjoy seeing the interactive part on a big screen. CLICK HERE for access.

President Biden in the Oval Office of the White House with sculpture of Robert F. Kennedy
Photo: Stefani Reynolds for the New York Times
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