Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

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9/11

September 11, 2022

Let us pause and remember

A few evil people acted that day, 21 years ago, but millions acted out of bravery and kindness and showed the world that goodness can overpower evil. I was in my art classroom the morning of 9/11 when the news came through. I was horrified and was reminded that not all of us do what is right for other human beings.

I watch this video each year on this date to remind me of the importance of compassion and not to be so only when there is a tragedy but everyday. The challenges that people experience throughout our world must be combatted with a little kindness to each other.

There were many stories of bravery that day but I am forever moved by the community of boat owners and captains who put others first and their acts made a difference! Everyone who participated in the search and rescue operation on 9/11 and the days following is a true hero. Never Forget the lives lost on this tragic day or the heroes that emerged from it.

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Pride in Educators

August 16, 2022

Much to be proud about!

Debra and Rebecca

Arts educators need to, and do, advocate for Arts Education in many different ways. Hopefully, at the end of the day, the advocacy efforts change the access and equity to high quality Visual and/or Performing Arts Education for all students. Advocacy can heighten awareness of the ‘why’ of Arts Education. Efforts may relate to curriculum or assessment or scheduling or numerous other topics that impact an education in the arts. Sometimes we need to seek opportunities and sometimes we’re forced to advocate. And, other times an opportunity unfolds in front of us. Like the time I was on a 2 hours flight sitting next to my superintendent. I had the ear of the person who could make a huge difference in the arts education program. You betcha, I took advantage of the chance to have a conversation that included promoting arts education.

Two amazing arts educators recently had the opportunity to present about their programs. One a theatre teacher, the other, a music teacher. They had an audience that was filled with not only educators, Pre-K through higher education, but people from the business sector as well. I sat in the audience listening to them and chills ran up my arm and I could feel the pride fill my heart and brought tears to my eyes. I often think about how fortunate so many learners are for excellent arts education programs. It takes all of us to bring this magic to schools and school districts but without outstanding and qualified teachers in classrooms, goals fall short.

Congratulations to Rebecca Edmondson and Debra Susi for using your voices and representing all that is ‘right’ and ‘good’ about education. Rebecca is the K-6 classroom music teacher at Conners-Emerson School in Bar Harbor and the 2022 Hancock County Teacher of the Year and Debra is the theatre teacher at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield and the 2022 Somerset County Teacher of the Year. I am so proud and grateful for what each teacher is doing to represent all Maine arts educators. Both were selected as semi finalists for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year.

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Music Educator Rebecca Edmondson

July 19, 2022

Hancock County Teacher of the Year

Please join me in congratulating Music Educator Rebecca Edmondson who is the 2022 Hancock County Teacher of the Year. Rebecca teaches at Conners Emerson School in Bar Harbor. Next week, Rebecca will join her colleagues, who along with her, have been named Semi-Finalist for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year. All 8 Semi-Finalists will be providing a presentation which is the next step in the process. Below is Rebecca’s story that will provide her history and her journey to this point in her life. The writing is her own, I’m sure you’ll hear Rebecca’s voice. Her commitment to education, her students, and the community of Bar Harbor is commendable!

CONGRATULATIONS Rebecca Edmondson

Tell us your story, what led you to this moment Rebecca?

Teaching was a way of life in my home. My grandmother, mother, and numerous cousins were teachers or administrators. They shared stories that provided warm and delightful chatter at the supper table. It got my attention! At that point, I began dreaming of becoming a teacher.

It was my mother who impacted my decision on becoming a music teacher. She taught music for twenty-eight years and we always had instruments laying around our home just waiting to be played. 

Edmondson piping at the Town Pier in Bar Harbor to welcome the Queen Elizabeth II on her maiden voyage.

During my high school years, I wanted a taste of teaching so I gave private music lessons to beginners. That was it! I knew that I wanted to continue to have a positive impact on young learners. From then on, I devote my life to teaching. Teaching comes naturally. Music is my life. Teaching music is my forte! 

My music education began at age five with learning the piano because I wanted to be just like my older sister so I begged my mother for lessons! Mrs. Frisk was our piano teacher and prepared us both for college auditions. She had even taught my mother when she was young! In her younger years, she played for silent films and I thought that was really cool.  

Edmondson at piano for community production of “Clue,” literally playing the part of Professor Plum, the murderer at the piano, at The Grand Theater in Ellsworth.

In fifth grade, I discovered the oboe and loved it! A few years later, I began private lessons from Dr. Dicicco at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I always studied under the best instructors and was classically trained. During my teen years, folk music and instruments captured my heart and I was compelled to play the Great Highland Bagpipes! I spent summers on the shores of the St.Lawrence Seaway with a hundred other pipers, receiving instruction from world class pipers Seumas MacNeil, Angus MacLellan, and Iain MacFadyen from Scotland. These inspiring teachers will always have a special place in my heart.

During my high school years, on Saturdays, I traveled over the mountain to play oboe in the Johnstown Youth Symphony and on Sundays I ventured into the big city to pipe in the Pittsburgh Scots Pipe Band. It was the best of both worlds – classical and folk!

Several of Rebecca’s Conners Conners Elementary School violin students

My formal education includes earning my Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). I expanded my education and earned my Elementary Education Certification from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and from there, I was placed as a program Reading Specialist Graduate Assistant back at IUP when suddenly I received a call for a music teaching interview and was hired on the spot. So many opportunities presented themselves in that year and shortly after my teaching career began, I married Bill and in the next few years our children were born. Life was good!

Then one day, Bill said that it was time to make the move to Maine that he had been dreaming of for years. I cried. I had a beautiful home, loving children, and my dream job. I did not want to move, especially 800 miles away, however, I put on a happy face and packed us up. Upon moving to Maine my current teaching position became available and we built our home on the beautiful Mount Desert Island! I have been enjoying a wonderful life near Acadia National Park and a successful teaching career at the Conners Emerson School since 1990! Life was good again. 

Fifth grade dulcimers created by students

My education continued, earning my Master of Music in Music Education degree from the University of Maine at Orono. I continue to enjoy learning new music and instruments. Harp and accordion are my newest additions! Teaching and music has created opportunities to bond friendships that endure to this day and I love to perform for community events. It brings a smile to my face when I fondly remember my Dad saying, “With all of those classical lessons that I drove you to, what do you prefer? Bagpipes and tin whistle!”

I truly feel that every facet of my teaching and life experiences with music in the community has pointed me in the direction of becoming the 2022 Hancock County Teacher of the Year. Thirty five years of teaching has given me ample time to live my dreams and achieve my goals.

Conners Emerson Show Choir

What is your present teaching assignment – how long have you been there?

My husband Bill, our children Bethany and Ethan, and I moved to Bar Harbor in 1989. We found a piece of wooded land overlooking Echo Lake and built our home. I took a year to earn my Maine Teaching Certificate and be home with my children. The following year, my current music position became available! It was meant to be! I have enjoyed inspiring thousands of children and involving their parents since 1990! 

At Conners Emerson School (CES), I teach K-6 general music classes, consisting of programs that I have initiated; second grade class violin, third grade tin whistle and xylophone, fourth grade ukuleles and acting to the classics, fifth grade dulcimer constructing and playing, sixth grade keyboard class, third through eighth grade string lessons and two orchestras. My fiddle group, the Swallowtail Fiddlers, provides a creative and traditional approach to learning tunes and this group serves as musical ambassadors from CES providing community service and delighting audiences of all ages. Every class sings and dances as well and the icing on the cake is the show choir where it all comes together! 

Image of an original song that Rebecca composed for my students

What do you love about teaching? What are your biggest challenges?

One of the most rewarding experiences that a teacher can experience is the creation of a new program. A quarter note is always a quarter note, however, there are so many different songs to sing and tunes to play that every year, even though the curriculum remains the same, I have the flexibility in choosing new music that the students and I are interested in and form new ensembles. I rarely have repeated music during my past 35 years of teaching. Also, if I am unable to find just the right music for my students, I compose something for them! It makes them feel so special.

Schools have locked their doors to community connections for the past two years due to COVID. My advocacy is building community; bringing the community into the school for inspiration and taking our school students into the community to serve. This generational aspect in reciprocity creates a circle of mentoring, which renews with every passing generation for my school and community. Parents of the primary grade students have not set foot inside our schools. Now is the time to reconnect and rebuild our school and community collaborations to inspire our young people to become responsible future leaders and policy makers! 

2018 Hancock County Teacher of the Year Jennifer Farnham with a student clarinetist, demonstrating a circle of mentoring. They first performed together in my community orchestra that I founded, TEMPO: The Eastern Maine Pops Orchestra, and continue to play alongside each other in the Bangor Band!
Photo that appeared in a YWCA calendar, empowering community women

Tell the blog readers about the Teacher of the Year process, what’s it been like?

The Teacher of the Year process has been one of reflection, self evaluation, and networking. I have enjoyed reflecting on my past accomplishments when writing the essays. Self evaluation gives me pause to fondly recall community music and performance events that I had forgotten about because my mind is always looking towards the next thing! The networking with my county cohort, Maine TOTY cohort, and Educate Maine gives a teacher a big picture of what we as TOTY can do to, well, educate Maine!  

Those involved in Educate Maine have prepared the TOTY candidates every step of the way for success. The Professional Development that I have participated in, through TOTY, has been very beneficial, educational, and fun. Because of it, I have grown as a teacher and person. 

 Sponsor Lee Auto reminded Rebecca of the time when her Swallowtail Fiddlers performed at the Seal Cove Auto Museum

The 2022 County Teachers of the Year is a strong cohort and it is an honor to be a part of it. Once a TOTY, always a TOTY so the friendships formed within this group are sure to last for years to come. The sponsors, UNUM and Lee Auto, to name two major contributors, have made it possible for the Teacher of the Year cohort to be treated as professionals so that travel to state-wide events is a luxury in that expenses are covered. I feel supported and appreciated.

Whose classroom have you visited that really impressed you and what were the pieces that stand out most to you? What did you learn from that experience?

Oh my! There are so many to choose from and I do not want to leave anyone out! 

During these COVID times, extra duties have been added to my schedule, which gave me insight into classrooms that I would not have normally walked into. Spending time in the K-8 classrooms during snack time, lunch, and indoor recess, have given me the gift of spending extra time with students in their homeroom in a relaxed atmosphere. Student interactions in their own environment during non-instructional time, gave me a glimpse of their social interactions.

 Composer project, 4th grade project at the Conners Emerson School. The students learn about a different composer each year, Rebecca draws it and cuts it apart, deals out the “puzzle pieces,” students color, assemble, and voila, masterpiece legacies!

Each physical classroom that I was assigned to, was set up differently, taking on the persona of the classroom teacher. One was decorated with elephants. The color blue was the predominance of another classroom. Yet another displayed items accrued on an overseas trip. Some classrooms were calm while others caused overstimulation, in my opinion. 

One thing that all the classrooms had in common was the display of student work. Whether it be self-portraits, a research project, or the signing of a classroom contract, every child was represented in some way in the classrooms. I work with incredible teachers at Conners Emerson and each brings a personal touch to their classroom to create a positive, safe, and inspirational cultural community. 

There are 32 composers hanging in Rebecca’s music room – one for each year that she has taught at CES. They are a good conversation starter among students plus alumni who return like to point out which composer that they helped create

You’ve had professional development in ‘communicating with the press’ since you’ve been selected as the Hancock County Teacher of the Year. What did you learn that is good advice for all teachers in communicating about the importance of your role as a teacher?

Communicating with the press is much different than communicating with your students. Teachers present new skills and techniques to students in numerous ways to accommodate various learning styles. With media, your communication needs to be clear, concise and to the point. Do not babble. 

Reporters love to let you talk on and on to catch you on something. Less is more. Keep it short. Create a one sentence, eight second sound bite from a paragraph to effectively make your point. If the interviewer shifts and has an underlying agenda, say, “That is an interesting question but it is not why I am here. Let me share my classroom experience with you” then blow your own horn.

Edmondson’s Swallowtail Fiddlers in 2009 performing in Agamont Park on the CBS Early Show

You have heard the saying, “Music speaks where words fail.” That is my motto! My Swallowtail Fiddlers spoke through toe-tapping jigs, reels, and strathspeys while performing on the CBS Early Show and the Channel 5 Morning News and I never spoke a word! 

I collaborated with first grade teacher, MaryAnne Young, to create the Maine Musical, Plant Kindness and Gather Love, about nature and Maine history. It makes a musical statement with eleven educational and entertaining songs, enhanced by movement, dance, script, and classroom activities that encourage students to be stewards of the earth. The synopsis features fourteen characters named for the wild flowers of Acadia National Park. All students in grades K-4 performed Plant Kindness and Gather Love at a public performance at The Criterion in Bar Harbor. The timing was perfect, for Plant Kindness and Gather Love became a celebration of the Centennial of Acadia National Park and the Bicentennial of Maine!

Edmondson and Young collaborated to create Maine musical, Plant Kindness and Gather Love. Acadia National Park donated Ranger hats for our young thespians and parent volunteers made flower decorations for the hats representing the wildflowers of Acadia National Park

What advice do you have for new teachers? 

Be flexible, go with the flow, and have a sense of humor. Young students are the source of an endless supply of optimism. Open your mind, hand, and heart and seek resources and opportunities beyond the classroom walls for real life learning experiences. Be a facilitator to spur your students’ imaginations. Expose your students to a wealth of stuff to guide them to discover their talents, to create their own voice, and have fun. Just like my classical training with a love for folk music I have networked with incredible musicians, both professional and recreational. I have the pleasure of expressing myself on both oboe and bagpipes, reaching very different audiences. 

Edmondson with two members from the Dirty Dozen band at their performance at the MENC National Convention in Salt Lake City. Edmondson advocated for school strings programs on a panel of twelve music teachers when she was designated as one of twelve in the country for having a Model Music Program.

Be diligent in continually making connections and build relationships between students and the community to spark an interest with your students. Be a good listener to what your students need and to what your community wants. There is a whole new world out there that is constantly changing. Embrace your journey with your students. You never know where it may lead for your students and you! Anything is possible.

Edmondson having fun being a pirate at Fort Knox. Her students enjoyed her antics.
The best of both worlds of, classical and folk, met on stage at The Grand Theater in Ellsworth. Guest Scottish National Fiddle Champion Sean Heely and Edmondson on the great Highland Bagpipes perform with her community orchestra, TEMPO, while Ethan Edmondson conducts Tributum for Celtic Pipes by Nan Avant, Composed for the Celebrate the World Music! Concert in 2013.
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Extraordinary Executive Director Retiring

July 14, 2022

Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts Executive Director to RetireThank you Fran!

Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, located in Edgecomb, has a long tradition of providing amazing experiences for artists and educators. In January of this year I provided a blog post that shares their story.

The Board of Trustees announces that Executive Director Fran Rudoff will retire in early 2023.

Fran Rudoff

Rudoff began her tenure as Watershed’s executive director in 2013. During her time leading the organization, she spearheaded substantial improvements and additions to the campus. Under her guidance, the Center’s Watershed NOW capital campaign has enabled the organization to open a new gallery space; create year-round offices for staff; host outdoor installations on 22 newly-acquired acres; build a Studio Annex, complete with a wood shop and workshop space; offer new housing for staff; and construct Watershed’s new 7,500 square foot Windgate Studio, the cornerstone of the capital campaign.

In addition to these transformative campus changes, Watershed’s assets have grown significantly under Rudoff’s leadership, $1.2 million in 2013 to over $5 million in 2021, in addition to a $3 million operating endowment. The organization now offers more residency and workshop programs and supports more artists with scholarships than ever before.

Rudoff has also deepened Watershed’s commitment to antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. She worked steadily to increase access to artist programs by creating new funding streams, developing outreach initiatives, and building relationships with partner organizations. A significant partnership with The Color Network (TCN) has resulted in two residency sessions funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Nearly thirty artists of color who are taking part in TCN’s mentorship program convened on the Watershed campus in 2021 and 2022 to work together in person and grow their creative practices. Watershed also serves as TCN’s fiscal sponsor as they grow from a national affiliation of artists into an independent nonprofit.

“In my years of experience with non-profit boards, I’ve never met a more competent and energized executive director than Fran Rudoff,” shared Watershed Board President Bernie Toale. “Fran easily juggles nine things at one time with efficiency and grace. Her achievements over the past ten years are hard to number, but the crowning glory is the construction of our new $3 million Windgate Studio built during COVID lockdown.”

Prior to her time at Watershed, Rudoff worked for the State of Maine in regional planning and resource management, followed by nearly fifteen years as Executive Director of KIDS Consortium, a nonprofit that supported service learning opportunities for Maine students. Rudoff brought her expertise in education to bear on Watershed’s K-12 outreach programs by creating new professional development opportunities for Maine art teachers to hone their ceramics skills and reach more students. The popular grant-funded programs have positively impacted the artistic development of thousands of Maine youth.

All of these accomplishments are buttressed by Rudoff’s abiding care for Watershed’s community. While the organization is based in the small town of Edgecomb, Watershed’s extended network of friends, alumni, and supporters stretches from coast to coast. Rudoff forged lasting and meaningful connections with artists, collectors, and supporters around the country.

“It has been my privilege to steward Watershed over the past decade,” she shared. “The organization’s mission and focus on artists is more important than ever. I am filled with gratitude for the many professional relationships and friendships that have become so important to me and for the opportunity to contribute to Watershed’s growth.”

The search process for a new executive director has begun, with an expectation of having a new leader in place at the beginning of 2023.

“A visionary new director will bring a fresh perspective to this leadership role during a pivotal time in the organization’s development,” said Bernie Toale. “With a new state-of-the-art studio, the stage is set to expand our signature residency program and explore the next chapter of innovative and inclusive programming.”

Watershed seeks candidates with demonstrated fundraising and financial management experience, proven success managing a motivated team, an appreciation for the power of art and artmaking, and an understanding of artist residencies. The full position description and application information can be found on the organization’s website at watershedceramics.org.

About Watershed

Founded in 1986 on the site of a former brick factory, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts’ mission is to provide artists with time and space to explore ideas with clay. The organization was founded by artists with a common vision: to offer a supportive and enriching environment where artists could fully engage in creative practice while working with clay. This vision meets a critical need in the clay community and remains at the heart of Watershed’s programs.

The organization’s internationally-recognized residency model prioritizes the development of creative community; artists work alongside one another in an open-concept studio, collaborate on kiln firings, share meals, and forge lasting personal and professional connections. In addition to the residency program, Watershed’s extensive atmospheric wood and gas kilns draw artists from the region, and guest artist workshops offer hands-on learning experiences led by nationally-known ceramists. Watershed’s K-12 education program provides popular professional development workshops for Maine art educators and connects teaching artists with regional schools.

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Meet Mia

July 6, 2022

Mia Bogyo, Education Programs Manager, CMCA

I was so happy to have a lengthy conversation with Mia Bogyo and to learn her story. Mia has a bubbly personality and is an enthusiastic creative person who approaches each task at hand positively. When Mia smiles it is with her whole being. She is totally committed to her work in art education and applies her energy so everyone benefits. Her story…

Mia Bogyo uses the pronouns, she/her and is the Education Programs Manager at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) in Rockland. Mia’s high school experience at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill heavily influenced her pathway to art making and teaching. She was able to take advantage of all the programming that Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle had to offer high school students.

Mia at work!

Mia went to the University of Southern Maine (USM), started in the Studio Arts program and then switched to the Art and Entrepreneurship program. During her freshman year she was involved with Oak Street Studios (downtown Portland) and Side X Side and really loved teaching with both programs. She was experimenting with teaching in the community arts programming and in-school/out of school and after school programs. With further consideration she had the choice of majoring in the community art education program or study for a BFA with a K-12 certification. She jumped into the art education program and continued doing some teaching at Oak Street Studios and Side X Side, gaining in-depth experiences. She taught during the school year as well as during the summer. She student taught at Oceanside Elementary School in Portland, Falmouth Middle School, and Casco Bay High School in Portland and graduated in 2018 which gave her comprehensive experiences to help her consider public school teaching or a community education pathway.

USM has agreements with Maine College of Art + Design (MECA+D) and Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) which enables students learning opportunities at all three campuses. Mia traveled to Greece with a MECA+D study abroad summer program.

PUBLIC SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

Mia took on a long-term substitute position at Canal Elementary School in Westbrook. She was contracted for three months and it turned into six. The experience provided something that she couldn’t possibly have planned for. She was impressed with the Westbrook art education program and received a great deal of support while there. She had the chance to attend department meetings with the K-12 art staff and she had ongoing communication with department chair Rachel Somerville who provided incredible support. She even had the chance to advise a student teacher from Maine College of Art + Design. This was a unique experience, chaotic at times, however, between the student population and the support she was provided, everyday was an adventure. She was inspired and walked away with a new confidence and clarity a direction.

She also taught at the Gorham Arts Alliance in their pre-school and after school programs. This experience provided Mia a better understanding of younger learners which was invaluable. This gave her the confidence to work with young children. Soon after she left there, the pre-school became more a part of the public school. Mia views this positively because it helps facilitate a sequential art education program starting at a younger age. Schools adjust their art programs since students have art education prior to kindergarten.

MOVE TO ROCKLAND

Two and half years ago Mia moved to Rockland and visited CMCA to learn about their programming. She was impressed with their educational offerings and that most of it was being facilitated by a volunteer, Sandy Weisman. They had a serious conversation about CMCA’s five year plan which included a comprehensive art education program. Mia’s philosophy and CMCA’s were so aligned that they offered her the position of Education Programs Manager. She is grateful for the mentoring that Sandy provided and for her collaborative ongoing work with Community Arts Instructor Alexis Iammarino, who oversees the ‘Arts @ Work’ program.

Look Inside program

CMCA EDUCATION PROGRAMS, for all ages

VISION – Dedicated to promoting dynamic engagement with contemporary art and artists, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art offers programs that fuel the imagination, stimulate forward thinking, and cultivate conversation.

The priority is to develop programming that:

  • Expands access to the new ideas and modes of expression inherent in contemporary art
  • Provides authentic and experiential art education that engages local artists as teachers and mentors
  • Empowers individuals to explore their own capacities as creative thinkers and makers

CMCA learning programs:

  • Art Lab – Offering hands-on education programs year round for all ages.
    • Look Inside specifically geared to K-12 school visits, created by professional museum educators and assisted trained volunteer education staff, invites students to look at and understand the world in new ways. The program strengthens the following:
      • Visual literacy
      • Interdisciplinary learning
      • Deep and thoughtful looking
      • Hands-on creating making
    • Expanded program supporting K-12 school visits and professional development for Maine art teachers online and in person
    • February and April school vacation workshops
    • Summer Art Camp facilitated by guest teaching artists
  • Arts @ Work is a free mentorship program connecting high school students across the mid-coast region to arts leadership, career development, volunteer opportunities and studio practice development. This program is facilitated by Community Arts Instructor Alexis Iammarino.
  • Community Partners are plentiful at CMCA which help to connect artists of all ages, races, genders, socio-economic status, and abilities to contemporary artwork and artists.
Mia leading Look Inside program

PANDEMIC

The pandemic offered Mia and CMCA some challenges along with opportunities. They quickly shifted to online offerings. They built over 1,300 art kits with each kit being attached to one lesson. Over time students participating collected tons of ideas and materials. Parents are grateful for the quality art supplies to help steer their child while at home and most likely will last for a very long time. They worked with the local teen shelter providing art kits while they were doing food distribution.

Covid influenced and impacted decisions and direction. They are building on the challenges. Returning from the pandemic to in-person has been a different kind of challenge. They continue to offer online opportunities and will not lose what they learned during the most difficult part of the pandemic. They have streamlined their communication. CMCA is the only organization in the area providing online. They are now very open for schools and love having groups visit.

The other big learning is that they are clear that “creativity can be a step away from technology now.” They used technology to engage people while simultaneously making and offering the art kits, serving all ages, PreK through adults. Since it was difficult to get kids online they pre-recorded the lessons and the local school district communicated the information to students.

The instruction reached quite a distance during the pandemic. Schools as far away as Machias and Kennebunk participated during the heart of the pandemic. CMCA provided virtual tours and workshops. Perhaps due to the pandemic programs with classroom teachers are growing.

Mia has connected with the teachers at Harbor School and George Stevens Academy and provides workshops for students there.

Artlab

SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS, OPPORTUNITIES

CMCA has a free membership for Rockland residents. In many cases this starts with the teacher and the local schools.

CMCA is at a turning point, growing from what they’ve learned about young and adult learners. They are diversifying their teaching staff and including artists from the mid-coast. Many are interested in teaching and sharing what they do. Covid has shown that teachers, formally trained or not, can and wants to give back. Adult community members are interested in learning from an expert.

Mia teaches the elementary and middle school gifted and talented program in RSU 13 (Rockland) which she teaches at the school. The students also visit the CMCA shows throughout the school year.

The After School program involves partnering with the local schools through their 21st century program.

Rockland High School program is called ‘Arts at Work’, established in 2017, and CMCA partners with that program. Teaching artist, Alexis Iammarino facilitates this program. Internship for high school students at CMCA, focusing on the community. Alexis also oversees the mural program in the summer as lead artist for Arts in Action, which has been painting murals for several years in public spaces throughout Rockland. The town is being visually transformed thanks to the murals these young people have created with Alexis.

The ArtLab portion will expand to be more community based space for teaching artists.

CMCA is building on their relationship with the Mid-coast School of Technology. Together they are considering alternative learning spaces with an interest in the Graphic Design and Film programs offered at the school.

CMCA is part of the RSU 13 Youth Alliance. The organization is made up of more than 15 organizations who put out a newsletter and meet monthly. The organizations are located in the mid-coast, from Rockland to Camden, and are connected with youth, trying to build connections with youth and/or provide opportunities for youth. The group also supports each other by checking in with members to learn what is needed for youth, to help address struggles and to understand what is being heard from youth.

Mia leading Third Sunday

MAEA RELATIONSHIP

Mia works closely with Maine Art Education Association, hosting conferences and communicating about the resources that CMCA has for educators. She enjoys exploring this together with teachers and providing professional development in a collaborative manner, planning and implementing.

SUMMER

CMCA is 70 years old and the 5th year that they’ve been in their new facility in Rockland. On the 3rd Sunday of the month they have Sunday tours. In partnership with the Farnsworth Art Museum this summer they are offering joint field trips for children and summer camp programs for children in RSU13. Mia is honored that organizations wish to collaborate with CMCA but focusing on the numbers is a priority for them. And, getting everyone on the same timeline is a challenge.

LOOKING AHEAD

The education portion of CMCA will continue to grow while being mindful of their mission and goals. They will hire a part-time employee (10-15 hires a week) to help maintain the programs that they are currently housing. In Mia’s own words: “It is so exciting to have new work that turns over, exciting to have this space to use, exciting to make connections. I am wanting to do (provide programming for). “I am always reminding myself to slow down.”

Thank you Mia for providing so much information for the blog readers so they can learn (more) about you and the education programs at CMCA.

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Art Teacher Extraordinaire Retiring

June 28, 2022

Congratulations, Ms. Snider, and thank you!

“LOVE WHAT YOU DO AND NEVER STOP LEARNING ABOUT WAYS YOU CAN ENGAGE STUDENTS!”

While reading Janie Snider’s reflections below you will understand who she is and the impact she has had, not only on her elementary and middle school students, but the adults in her life also. Janie is a gem whom I’m certain will be missed in her daily teaching role. I’m confident that she will continue to make a difference in this world through her interactions with others as she enjoys her retirement. Thank you Janie for your service to the field of education! I know the blog readers join me in wishing you the very best in your retirement.

Last week of school, Hancock Grammar School

IN JANIE’S WORDS…

I have been teaching for 30 years. My first ten years teaching were in SAD#37 including Columbia Falls, Millbridge, Cherryfield, Harrington, and Addison. I started as a long-term art substitute, then as a kindergarten teacher and the following year as the art teacher. In 2002 I started teaching at Hancock Grammar School, where I spent the last 20 years. As a result of consolidation, I also taught art at Lamoine Consolidated for four years from 2011-2015. I received a Bachelors Degree in Elementary Education, K-8 from University of Maine, Machias and K-12 Visual Arts Certification.

My favorite part of teaching is building the most wonderful relationships with students that revolve around art making! Painting is my favorite discipline. Guiding students through color exploration and expression is so rewarding.

Cherryfield School – notice all the art styles included?

It has been quite the journey from when I was a young itinerant art teacher. I remember being so overwhelmed in my early years; five schools, 600 students and all the different challenges. In year three I was considering giving it up. I was feeling isolated and unsure of my impact on students. Then one day as I was introducing landscape to third graders I learned that I was! As I explained the horizon line, a little boy who normally didn’t participate suddenly started waving his hand, so I called on him. He was so excited to have made this connection, he said, “I saw it this weekend when I was on the lobster boat with my Dad, there it was and I knew it had something to do with art!!!” From that moment on, I never questioned my ability to connect students with the wonders of art in their world. It was my inspirational moment. Nature is my inspiration for my own work and it easily found it’s way into my lessons!

I have seen many changes in education and art education over the years. I truly believe that being included in the “Maine Learning Results” gave validity to arts education. However, it was challenging to keep up with the interpretation of standards that serve as guidance in developing strong arts programming. I was fortunate to have been an active part of this process, a member of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI, now MAEPL), a local leader, and advocate for arts education. All of which helped me tremendously with meeting students needs! As a result of my work, I was recognized as the 2014 Maine Middle School Art Teacher by the Maine Art Education Association. This was a very important time in affirming my career. Representing Maine and attending the National Art Education Association conference in New Orleans was a definite highlight!

Another huge change is how technology has developed and changed the art curriculum, this boggles my mind. I started my career without using any technology and in 2020 developed an online art curriculum for remote learning.

Three things that are really key to a successful art program are:

  • KNOW your students, develop a relationship with them!! Listen to them!!
  • SHOW your passion for your profession!! Be creative in your approach!!
  • GO WITH THE FLOW, be flexible, be current with best practices and meet students where they are!
Janie in her classroom at Hancock Grammar School

I am most proud of my ability to guide students and help them understand and appreciate art in education and the world. I recently received a message from a former student who was in Washington DC at the National Gallery and was thinking back to the many lessons she learned in my classes. She thanked me for that. I have many young adults that have reconnected with me and shared their fond memories in art! 

Looking into my crystals ball….My advice to teachers is “LOVE WHAT YOU DO AND NEVER STOP LEARNING ABOUT WAYS YOU CAN ENGAGE STUDENTS!” 

K-8 mural, D.W. Merritt Elementary School, Addison. Kindergarten students started at the bottom and the mural grew as each grade contributed.

Stay curious, involved and be a life long learner. Take classes and reach out to others in your area of expertise, they are a gift!

I have come to realize that I was supposed to be an art teacher. So I guess the innate ability to teach was there, I just needed to become aware of it. I knew early on I had some artistic talent and wanted to be an artist. However, life happened and that dream had to be on hold. So I learned a lot of teaching skills over the years that helped me in my work! I’m still learning more about my work through my reflection. I am hopeful that during retirement I will rediscover that innate “art-self” that will bring my life-long dream into being.

Hancock Grammar School

I plan to make time for me and my art! I plan to take art classes, garden, read, travel with my honey and spend time with family and friends. I have grandkids that I am excited to have more time with!❤️ I know me and I am always busy, so my goal is to slow down just a bit and smell the roses!!

If I was given $500,000….definitely, buy a camper to continue my trips to the national parks. Contribute to my grandkids education fund and invest in my community arts programming! 

I hope to be 94 and looking back!! My mom made it to 93 and we had a conversation about regrets before she passed. No regrets here, I have lived a good life, learned many lessons to carry me into the present! I have listened to my intuition and followed my heart, which is full of love!!❤️

Janie painting, home studio
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Music Teacher Extraordinaire Retiring

June 21, 2022

Congratulations, Mrs. Murphy and thank you!

I love helping students find their voices.

Kim Murphy has been teaching music for the last 34 years and is retiring this month. She’s one of those teachers who I thought would never retire since she has a ton of energy and is totally engaged in every aspect of teaching. She has high expectations for herself and her students. Kim always has a smile on her face and her laughter is contagious! I’m certain that she will be missed! (You can learn something about Kim’s humor by the most of the photos below and the embedded links, be sure and click on the center capitalized titles to see the videos).

Kim started teaching grades 6-12 Choral and General Music at Oak Hill High School, Sabattus, Litchfield and Wales. Shortly afterward the position changed and she taught Band and Chorus, grades 9-12 at Oak Hill High School. She took a sabbatical in 1996-97 and then moved to Lincolnville. For the last 25 years she has taught at the high school, Camden-Rockport High School for 3 years and when the new high school opened, Camden Hills Regional High School (CHRHS), she has taught there. Earlier in her music career she worked as a music therapist in Peapack, NJ and Bethlehem, PA.

Kim was a double major and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and Music Therapy. She is a Nationally Board Certified teacher.

What has been your favorite part of teaching?                                                                                                                       

  • I love helping students find their voices. Find their self-confidence through singing. I love it when someone has a solo – and other people never realized what a beautiful voice that person has.  And then there is just the self-confidence in getting up and singing before a large crowd – whether in a small group or a large group. There are life lessons – the teamwork is necessary. 
  • I love music festivals – where students from different schools come together to create works of beauty. It’s SO different from sports – where someone is always the winner and someone is always the loser. With music festivals – the competition has already happened (through auditions) and the coming together to create a concert in 2 – 3 days is a wonderful way to build connections.
  • And then of course – I love musicals!

Tell the readers about a moment in your teaching career that has been unforgettable? 

  • Well – there are many.  But a recent one is…. During the 2020-21 school year, I had the FIRST tent up!  And my tent was the FIRST to blow away! UNDER THE TENT!
And there she blows!

What changes have you experienced during your teaching career that have been positive and/or negative?

  • I think it’s great that kids can take so many AP courses – and get college credit. Yet this (adding of AP classes to schedules) has really hurt music programs in that the schedule and time for Band and Chorus is getting squeezed out. And also – is it healthy for a student to have so many AP classes?
  • In a positive manner, I think students are more assertive; they self-advocate for what they need in education; education is now –  less “top down” instruction and more collaboration.

YESTERDAY!

What do you think are three keys to ANY successful music ed program? 

  • Know your students, be genuine in your care for them
  • Flexibility and creativity – learn to work with schedule changes, or things that happen that throw your carefully written plans out the window
  • Plan, plan, plan 
  • And (a 4th!) have a sense of humor!

What are you most proud of in your career?

When I was hired at CRHS I said that my personal 10 yr goal was to have the strongest choral program in the State of Maine. We are lucky – we have fantastic community support. I think – with the numbers of students that have been accepted to District III, All State, All Eastern and National festivals over the years – I think that it has been one of the strongest choral programs in the State. Unfortunately – right now – due to Covid and other challenges – the Chorus program is not as strong (in numbers) and that breaks my heart. You have to have the numbers.

Who influenced your work as a teacher or perhaps inspired you?

Charlie Seymour and Steve Moro

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

Teaching is the hardest and best profession. There are days when you will want to cash in your chips early – don’t! Hold on. Your students learn more from your daily attitude and mindset than you realize. As a teacher – you teach a subject area – but it’s the character that you bring into the classroom that has the lasting educational benefit.

IT’S TIME TO SING!

How much of what you do is learned skills and how much is innate?

Wow – that’s an interesting question. I come from a family of teachers – so I think that was how we grew up. So – teaching comes naturally. I was going to be either an English or Math teacher. Those subjects come easily to me (well….not Math anymore – ha ha). But Music didn’t come easily. I had to work at it. I had to make it look easy. But – because I had to work at my music skills so hard, that made me a better teacher – because I could understand why kids were struggling, and I could break it down into smaller chunks for them to understand.

I’VE GOT MY OWN TENT!

What does retirement look like for you?

Exciting and Terrifying.  I have an Air BNB business at my house, which I LOVE to do – and hope to be able to grow that – especially in the shoulder seasons (when I would have been at school). I’m connecting with community theater and music groups – because that is my passion. I do a lot of work with my church – and hope to be able to volunteer more with places like AIO food pantry (food and energy assistance for citizens of Knox county) or other social programs. And finally – I will fly to CA (whenever I damn well please) to see my son!

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

I would create a theater program for kids – especially kids who struggle in life.  

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

I hope not!  You have to live in the moment and enjoy each beautiful step.

The concert photos in this blog post were taken by Marti Stone Photography.

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Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership

June 20, 2022

Teaching Artists and Educators Invited!

This is a great opportunity to become part of a dynamic network of arts educators across the state of Maine. This year-long experience begins with a 3-day Summer Institute, held at a beautiful outdoor setting sure to jumpstart your leadership journey.

August 1-3, 2022. APPLICATION deadline June 23. There is no cost.

If you’re selected your role begins with the 3-day institute at Pilgrim Lodge, August 1-3.

MAEPL would love to build community with educators and teaching artists who know or have someone interested in arts integration. If you have someone in your building or your community or have partnered with someone in the past please have them attend this summer with you!

MAEPL recently moved from the Maine Arts Commission and is now a program of the Maine Department of Education.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

QUESTIONS? Contact Iva Damon, Program Team Lead: MAEPLLeadership@gmail.com or ‪(802) 695-0198‬

August 1-3, 2022. APPLICATION deadline June 23. There is no cost.

SUMMER INSTITUTE LOCATION
Pilgrim Lodge is a camp run by the United Church of Christ of Maine on Lake Cobbosseecontee in West Gardiner, ME. This beautiful venue has cabins with electricity and plumbing, large indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, modern dining facilities, wifi in main buildings, good general cell reception, and recreation options including swimming, human-powered boating, and trails. 

PURPOSE 

The Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership (MAEPL) is committed to developing and promoting high quality arts education for all. MAEPL operates on the premise of “teachers teaching teachers.” All of our design teams, institutes, and professional development opportunities offer/encourage collaboration.

This We Believe’ Statements outline our foundational beliefs and practices.  

COMMUNITY 

  • Teacher Leaders: Maine Visual or Performing Arts Educators with a professional teaching certificate who teach an Arts discipline in a public or private school.  
  • Teaching Artist Leaders:  Professional Teaching Artists in Maine with demonstrated experience collaborating within educational or civic environments to design and lead student-centered, values-driven residencies drawn from mastery of their artistic discipline.    

TRAININGS, COLLABORATION, & WORK  

MAEPL is built on an institute model, by application. There is a Summer Institute for Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. Returning community members are encouraged to participate. 

At the Summer Institute new Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders will learn foundational practices in instructional design and leadership skills. Participants will take part in a variety of workshops focused on emerging needs in Arts Education professional development.  

Collaboration, networking, and the sharing of resources are an expectation as a member of the MAEPL community. During the Institute participants will develop an individualized growth plan that will be shared with others for feedback and suggestions.  

Throughout the school year, participants will continue to share how their individualized growth plan is developed and implemented, and they will have the opportunity to share at a Critical Friends Day, and with a thought partner. At the Winter Retreat participants review and reflect on the work done, and allow for time to get feedback to plan for the next Summer Institute.  

TEACHER LEADER/TEACHING ARTIST LEADER ANNUAL EXPECTATIONS

  • Attend Summer Institute 
  • Work with a thought partner 
  • Develop a individualized growth plan 
  • Share the outcomes of your individual growth plan within the MAEPL community and beyond (i.e. workshop, resource, video, article, etc.) 
  • Share feedback and information about MAEPL through teacher leader stories and as part of your outcomes of your personal growth plan 
  • Collaborate, network, and share resources 
  • Participate in Critical Friend Day 
  • Attend Winter Retreat

August 1-3, 2022. APPLICATION deadline June 23. There is no cost.

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Juneteenth

June 19, 2022

Freedom Day

Today, June 19 marks the 157th anniversary of Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. It commemorates the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and brought news that slavery had been abolished more than two years earlier.

I came across this story from 2015 on NPR, an interview recorded in 1941 with Laura Smalley who was born into slavery. Most slave owners kept the news from the slaves. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19 with 2000 troops and a message – slaves were free. 

Finally, after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier, the news reached the slaves in Texas. I can’t imagine being a child and being born into slavery let alone not being told that in fact, my freedom had been granted. I wondered how much respect Laura had for the slave owner after learning the news. Access Laura’s recording at THIS LINK.

Laura’s story and others are archived at the Library of Congress. There is a collection of stories in a section called Voices Remembering Slavery: Freed People Tell Their Stories. The documented stories took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine states. We can learn from the plethora of information included in the stories. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021 amid discussions of racial injustice following the death of George Floyd.

I can’t help but think about Ashley Bryan on this day. His contribution as a black artist, storyteller, poet and all around amazing human being is immeasurable. Many of you know that Ashley passed away in February of this year. He left a large body of artwork but my favorite and most cherished pieces of what he left are his children’s books. Even though they are children books each one has a message for all ages. If you read no others I recommend you get yourself a copy of Freedom over me. It includes the stories of 11 slaves, their lives and dreams were brought to life by Ashley. Mr. Bryan bought the slave papers at an auction in Southwest Harbor, ME and used them as a launch pad for the book. In this book he combined the simple descriptions and the price the slaves were sold for with his imagination and creativity and created a tribute to all slaves.

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Art Teacher Extraordinaire Retiring

June 14, 2022

Congratulations, Mrs. Bickford and thank you!

There is nothing more rewarding than being in a room full of students who are productive and teaching each other the skills you have shared with them. When all the art rooms are full of active learners at every level and they are teaching each other a broad range of skills, that feeling is intoxicating. I still marvel at it to this day and I cannot think of anything like it.

Debra Bickford, better known as Deb, is retiring this year after 37 years teaching visual art. Her career started at Wells Jr. High School (1 year), she moved on to Westbrook Middle School (2 years), and she is ending her career at Westbrook High School (34 years).

Her early experiences as a student have influenced her teaching and her life. She learned at a young age that she loved learning but didn’t care for school. When she arrived at Maine College of Art & Design – then called Maine College of Art (MECA), she fell in love with being in a space where people were hungry for learning about the same thing. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from MECA and went on to the University of Southern Maine where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education. During her formal learning she was engaged in pre-service teaching at Waynflete School in Portland and student taught at Gorham Schools and Thornton Academy in Saco.

Deb and I had a conversation about her teaching career and what became clear is her passion comes through every single day in and out of the classroom. She has positively impacted thousands of students! She’s proud of the fact that she is honest with students, even when it is hard. And, she has NEVER taken a sick day! Many people have influenced Deb over the years. She’s had the opportunity to work with many positively astonishing educators who have shown her what excellence looks like and how to make it happen.

“It would be really inspiring to make some sort of visual map or “who” and “what” I learned from so many. Like a mind map with art education inspiration at the center and people fanning out all around the center.

I hope Deb takes the time to make this visual map and send a copy to everyone on the map. It would be an amazing representation exhibiting the numbers that influence teachers!

Deb has had many unforgettable moments during her 37 years in the classroom. Here are a few highlights:

  • The day a student in my adaptive art class shared how much her family loved her art work and said: “I never knew I could be an artist”.
  • The day both parents met a students guidance counselor at 7a.m. to have her drop another content area to start Pre-AP Studio Art. The student had made the request but was told she had already had an art class. That same student went on and received a $10,000 scholarship at class night and earn a BFA in Painting at MECA.
  • The many texts, visits and emails from students thanking me for preparing them to be successful in college level visual arts classes. Many have even reported being asked to lead critiques in class. This makes me so happy.

Deb presenting her colleague Matt Johnson the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) Art Teacher of the Year award in April at the spring MAEA conference at CMCA, Rockland

During Deb’s career she has experienced many changes, both positive and negative. She is pleased to see “more students who desire a broader, deeper education in the arts and are willing and prepared to advocate for what they want even when there are roadblocks.” The negative aspect: “Over a decade of lower expectations in just about every aspect of what makes a strong, successful student has had a powerful impact on adequate progress. In general, students who used to be in the average range are finding the typical stress of high school level classes too much to cope with and organize for. What it means to “be a student” has, on average, deteriorated.

Deb’s program has evolved over the years. She’s grateful for the educators she has worked closely with who have influenced the evolution. Her classes are often mixed groups with AP, Art 1, and advanced students in one space. And, Art 3, 4, AP and Studio Art the same. Juniors and seniors enrolled in Studio Art have their own studio spaces within the art room. Her colleague Matt Johnson teaches in an adjoining classroom. Students migrate between Matt’s and Deb’s classes, moving where learning needs can be met. Deb and Matt’s collegial relationship promote a common studio space that encourages a cross pollination between students. Flexibility has been critical in leading to student success. The teachers move to meet the needs of the kids, not visa versa. A great example of ‘student-centered’ learning environment.

These are the four key ingredients that Deb believes are essential to any successful visual art education program:

  1. Know your content inside out, backward, forward and upside down and be willing to honor tradition whilst embracing the future.
  2. Understand that art skills and teaching skills are two very different things.
  3. Make sure that ‘what’ you are teaching and ‘how’ you are teaching it provides real world, valuable skills to every student no matter what level (skill level, experience in art) they are, or why, they are taking your class.
  4. Embrace Advocacy at every single turn. Never, ever pass up the opportunity to help people understand how and why arts education matters, no matter how exhausting it is.

Deb’s advocacy has been ongoing and her successes have served students well. I asked Deb to look into her crystal ball and offer advice to teachers.

Being an educator is not for the faint of heart. Wanting to help others learn and grow takes courage. When you do your preservice, think really hard about ‘why’ you want to pursue this. Teaching Art is not easy or fluffy or romantic. If you want to work hard and can commit to being a lifelong learner – go for it.”

You can view Deb’s pinterest teaching board which she has organized by elements, principles, concepts, media and process at https:www.pinterest.com/dabickford/_saved/. Her personal website which includes here amazing art is at http://www.dabickford.com/.

Deb’s future is bright with a retirement plans filling her days with activities she loves. She’ll be tending her multiple gardens. 60X40 vegetable, fruit trees, and perennials. She has willow gardens for traditional willow basket making. Deb and her husband are tearing up 20 year old floors in her home and replacing them with something easier to care for time in retirement. Deb will include time in her studio on a regular basis; printmaking and painting. She plans to pursue becoming a Golden Artist Educator and run a few painting workshops. Deb and her husband love visiting remote locations and plan to travel to the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton and make a return visit to Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada as well as several other beautiful highways.

I’m sure all your colleagues and the blog readers are joining me to wish you well on your retirement Deb!

If you know of other visual or performing arts teachers retiring this year please let me know by emailing meartsed@gmail.com.

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