Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

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Nominate a Deserving Colleague

February 7, 2023

Opportunities to recognize a music educator

Maine Music Educators Association Awards

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1 is the deadline for nominations for the following awards: 

Outstanding New Music Educator Award

Hall of Fame Award

Educator of the Year

Outstanding Administrator Award

Educator Appreciation Award

MONDAY, MAY May 1 is the deadline for nominations for the following awards: 

The MMEA Longevity and Retire Recognition Awards recognize the service achievement of music educators at the 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 year–and beyond. This award also celebrates educators who are planning to retire in 2023. Nominate a deserving colleague–or yourself!

Applications are here: Longevity And Retiree Recognitions

Complete information on the MMEA awards program is at THIS LINK.

2021 Music Educator of the Year
MAEPLE (Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader)
Dorie Tripp
RSU #38 Maranacook Schools

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Magaga

January 31, 2023

Kenyan educator

I have the privilege of working with an educator from Kenya named Enos Magaga who goes by Magaga. He and his family are delightful and over the last two years I have grown to appreciate and understand them in ways I could never have imagined. I am so grateful.

Magaga is the STEAM coordinator for a program called BEADS for Education. He also serves as the Communication and Outreach Coordinator for BEADS. It’s a fascinating program that was initiated to improve the quality of education for women and girls. BEADS established a high school for girls called Tembea Academy located about an hour and a half from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Magaga teaches Math and Science at the school. The program has grown mainly due to the work of Magaga and other staff who are committed to girls education. They are not only teaching them ‘content’ but it goes way beyond that. Years of traditions that are detrimental to girls are being interrupted and girls are provided with the opportunity to reach their potential.

In addition to teaching at Tembea Academy 6 hours each week Magaga teaches at the local elementary school. His time there is through the Full STEAM Forward program where students are loving learning through hands-on experiences that connect them with educators and programs in other parts of the world.

Magaga’s committent to the arts came about when he participated in a fellowship program in arts integration that I was part of at Sweet Tree Arts. His pathway to there was through the HundrED program that I’ve blogged about in the past. We met bi-weekly for a semester and during every meeting his face lit up with joy. Magaga’s positivity is contagious. His beliefs are strong and embedded into his daily actions.

I believe in an education system that does not rob learners of their curiosity, creativity and imaginations and above all, one that serves to create a balance in the lives of all learners.

You can read an interview with Magaga and learn more about him and his sweet family on the HundrED blog at THIS LINK. I’m sure it will inspire you!

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Maine Teacher of the Year

January 10, 2023

Nominate a deserving teacher

Now more than ever we need to celebrate all of the good work teachers are doing. Teachers know better than anyone what goes on in classrooms. If you’ve been wondering how to honor a colleague this is one way. Consider nominating them for the Maine Teacher of the Year. This program has developed over the years to elevate teachers.

Matt Bernstein, 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year, Casco Bay High School

Nominations are being accepted for the 2023 county teachers of the year until February 4 at 5:00 p.m. Applications are accepted from colleagues, students, parents, community members and organizations. The eligibility criteria is located at THIS LINK. Learn more about the program and the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year, Matt Bernstein, at THIS LINK.

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Education Has Lost a Giant

November 15, 2022

So long Phil Brookhouse

For those of us who came in contact with Phil Brookhouse, we are all better for it. You may know Phil from his days with the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. He and Barbara Greenhouse played off of each other while providing professional developing with technology. They were quite a team. For many Maine educators this was their first introduction to technology in the classroom so it needed to be top notch. The delivering was excellent, the content was spot on, but more importantly Phil understood it was ‘all about the relationship’. He was gentle, kind, and knowledgeable, AND he understood how to communicate with teachers because he had teaching in his heart and soul. A teachers teacher!

Phil worked with the State of Maine to roll out and support one of the first “one to one” laptop programs in the country. Phil always had a pleasant look on his face and often he spoke with a ‘pirate accent’. In fact, he was the first ‘pirate’ I ever met. Phil loved music and performed in community theatre. He understood the value of arts education and took the opportunity to include the arts in the work he did. He was proud to be named an Ambassador to Jupiter through NASA. After leaving the state work, Phil returned to the classroom at Edward Little High School in Auburn working with the gifted and talented program before retiring. He will be missed but the seeds of learning he spread will live on. I am grateful for the work he did in Maine education! You can read his entire obituary at THIS LINK.

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Conference Lift-off

November 4, 2022

Teaching Truth, Hope, and Creativity: How the ARTS can deepen any curriculum

During the last 7 months a group of committed educators have been planning, writing grants, communicating with each other and many other educators to plan the conference being held tomorrow, November 4, at Thomas College. Those of you who have planned conferences know of the thousands of details that it takes to pull together a successful conference. Those of you who have attended education conferences know how critical they are to advancing teaching and learning.

The Teaching Truth, Hope, and Creativity conference is for all Maine educators and is supported by many organizations through funding and planning. We are fortunate to have Connie Carter, Education Director from Americans Who Tell the Truth AWTT, take the lead on many of the details. Connie is amazing and knowledgeable about what is needed to face the tough conversations in schools today. Karen MacDonald from the Maine County and State Teachers of the Year Association has been involved in planning several conferences since her retirement as a middle school Language Arts. She is great at taking on responsibilities and at asking the questions to continue moving forward in the planning. Chelsea Fay representing the Maine Math and Science Alliance has been a top notch planner and she along with her colleague at MMSA Emma Carey will be presenting a workshop at the conference. Iva Damon representing the Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership has wowed us with her technology skills setting up the Padlet and the jam board participants will use. Hope Lord representing Maine Art Education Association has been instrumental in many of the hundreds of details. Sooooo grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with this amazing group of educators!

The conference couldn’t happen without the cooperation and generous support of many organizations. Unum, Veterans for Peace, Farnsworth Art Museum, and Kane-Lewis Productions. Thomas College is a wonderful organization to work with and has a beautiful campus. Staff member Darren has been excellent every step of the way!

The conference is scheduled for 8:45-3:00, tomorrow, November 4. We have 130 registered. If you’re interested in attending we have a few spaces available. Register at the link below OR show up at the door with cash or a check for $25.00 made out to Americans Who Tell the Truth. Included in registration is light breakfast, full lunch, an AWTT book, a padlet filled with resources, amazing workshops presented by Maine educators, access to two films: Truth Tellers and Natasha Mayers: An Un-still Life, wonderful gifts, and contact hours. There will be the opportunity to purchase the film Truth Tellers at a special conference price. Briar Patch books will have books to purchase. The door prizes are amazing!

I’m looking forward to seeing old friends at the conference and making new ones. YAY!

REGISTRATION

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Remembering Jason Anderson

October 23, 2022

Maine has lost an arts education champion

We are fortunate in Maine to have had many arts education giants over the years. Some at the local level, leading conversations, at the regional level providing leadership and at the state level influencing conversations and policy. This week Maine arts educators lost a champion, an individual who had experience in all three arenas. Jason Anderson, age 41, passed away much too early. At the beginning of his career he taught music for 14 years in Vermont and Maine. His teaching experience plus his graduate degree in curriculum and instruction prepared him well for his employment at the Maine Department of Education (DOE). Jason started at the DOE not long before the outbreak of Covid and he rose to the challenges and provided multiple opportunities, clear communication and supported educators in every way possible. His ongoing work was done with enthusiasm and he was totally committed. Jason was greatly appreciated and will be missed!

Jason’s funeral is on Saturday, October 29, 10:00 a.m. at the Military St. Baptist Church, 308 Military St., Houlton. His obituary can be found at THIS LINK.

Jason Anderson
December 21, 1980 – October 19, 2022
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Matthew Bernstein

October 12, 2022

2023 Maine Teacher of the Year

I’m feeling proud for our teaching profession as I reflect on the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year announcement ceremony held at Casco Bay High School in Portland. I’m sure if you have a chance to meet Matt you’ll feel proud as well, knowing that this young teacher will be representing Maine educators during 2023. The ceremony at the school announcing the teacher of the year is a formality that has barely changed and I am lucky to have attended all but a handful, since 1995. A similar scene is repeated year after year: the room gradually fills with administration, school and district staff, funders, representatives from the media, muckety-mucks, and out of town guests. The speakers are seated at the front near a podium with a microphone. The most important people file in last in a somewhat orderly fashion, students and their teachers. We know that high school teachers can blend in with students but on this day the teachers were recognizable because they dressed in blue shirts with ties partially knotted to honor one of their own colleagues, grade 9 humanities and social studies teacher Matt Bernstein. The energy level and the pride was evident throughout the room. Everyone was very attentive throughout the ceremony.

Two parts of the day brought me to tears. Matt was nominated for the award by a former student, Yusur Jasim. While a student of Matt’s he spent a lot of time in Matt’s classroom and decided to be a teacher because of the compassion and support he received. When Yusur spoke to describe Matt I could see the faces of the students understanding because he had impacted them in similar ways. The 2022 Maine Teacher of the Year, Kelsey Stoyanova who teaches at Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden, gave an engaging speech that not only highlighted the honor and role Matt will have during his year as teacher of the year but pointed the light directly onto the students. She was on the teacher of the year visitation team and during a recent visit to Casco Bay she learned about Matt, his students, colleagues, and the school. Her shared observations and collections of words made it clear that Matt is a compassionate, caring teacher who provides a safe and nurturing true learner-centered classroom for every learner who walks through the doorway. In Kelsey’s words:

“Mr. Bernstein empowers you all to be teachers for yourselves and others. Mr. Bernstein empowers you to teach him because you are all worthy of being learned from. Mr. Bernstein would not be able to do that if he did not truly believe in each of you all individually to be the kind of humans you want to be, the kind of humans your school needs you to be, the kind of humans that contribute and add value to all the communities in which you reside – in and outside of the four walls of your classroom with Mr. Bernstein.

Not only in the words that Matt shared but his body language spoke volumes as he put his hands to his heart and formed a heart shape over and over. He shared that this recognition wouldn’t have been possible without his students and the teachers around him. Matt jokingly said that he steals a lot of ideas from his colleagues. Matt said: “When I come here, I feel like I’m home. I feel like I have family around me”.

Matt was named 2022 Cumberland County Teacher of the Year at the beginning of the year which automatically put him in the arena of being considered for the state teacher of the year. Unlike most other states, Maine’s program for recognizing teachers is a long and drawn out process lasting almost a year. It’s a process that has only slightly changed since 1995. The biggest differences are the recognition of county teachers, Educate Maine facilitating the program for the department of education, and the funders are plentiful. In reality, all supporting teachers.

Matt has a Bachelor of Arts in History with a European History concentration from Bowdoin College, where he was also a Bowdoin Teacher-Scholar. His pedagogy is centered around student voices and student activism. He believes that the purpose of education is to help students find their way of contributing to a more equitable world. Matt is also passionate about creating opportunities for students to experience joy and belonging at school daily, and, to that end, he believes in cultivating meaningful relationships with students, often through his work as a 9th grade crew advisor, that are grounded in deep listening and holistic support. Matt has served in many leadership capacities at Casco Bay and the Portland district and takes opportunities to deepen his knowledge and teaching practice. A teacher for 10 years, I’m certain that his future in education will continue to be filled with learning and teaching opportunities.

Along with Educate Maine and the Maine DOE, the other partners and funders include: Maine County Teachers of the Year, State Board of Education, Geiger, Hannaford, Bangor Savings Bank, Dead River Company, unum, Silvernail Family, and Maine Lottery.

If you’d like to learn more about the program please go to the Educate Maine website at https://www.mainetoy.org.

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Teachers Representatives

August 25, 2022

Finalists for Maine Teacher of the Year

Four Maine teachers were announced today as the State Finalists for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year program. Eighth grade social studies and English Language Arts teacher Heather Anderson from Aroostook County, ninth grade humanities and social studies teacher Matthew Bernstein from Cumberland County, fourth grade math, writing, and science teacher Ashley Bryant from Oxford County, and high school social studies teacher Emily Albee from Penobscot County were all selected to move forward in the Teacher of the Year process and were chosen from the 2022 Maine County Teachers of the Year.

These teachers are representatives of all that is ‘right’ with education these days. They’re not ‘the best’ teachers but instead they are teachers who represent all teachers. If you’re fortunate enough to be a teacher you can be proud that their voices are strong and articulate. I had the opportunity in July to be at UMaine when the eight semi-finalists made presentations. They spoke with clarity while sharing their beliefs and passion for teaching.

We’re fortunate in Maine that the process for determining the teacher of the year is well thought out and has changed over the years to select a teacher who best represents all Maine teachers. When I look back I am impressed with how the program has evolved. In the present environment of education I’m sure that we can all agree that the program needs to change in order to represent the education profession.

County teachers of the year who were considered for the 2023 Maine Teacher of the Year who teach one of the arts: from Androscoggin County visual art teacher Kelsey Boucher, from Hancock County music teacher Rebecca Edmondson, and from Somerset County theatre teacher Debra Susi.

Maine’s Teacher of the Year is a program of Educate Maine. You can learn more at their website at https://www.mainetoy.org. The program has many sponsors.

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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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Visual Art Educator Kelsey Boucher

August 8, 2022

Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year

Please join me in congratulating Visual Art Educator Kelsey Boucher who is the 2022 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year. Kelsey teaches grades K-6 at Connors Elementary School in Lewiston. Her love of art was encouraged and supported by her own art teachers. “I love teaching art because art is its own language. Our school is home to a variety of spoken languages but when they come into my room, the art speaks for itself.”

CONGRATULATIONS KELSEY BOUCHER

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

Throughout my school years, I always loved art class. I had really enthusiastic art teachers throughout elementary school who provided a variety of opportunities to create. My middle school and high school art teachers really provided interesting art projects and kept my interest. I took every art class possible. When I went to college at the University of Vermont, I went in undecided. A friend of mine had been taking art courses and I wanted to try my hand at the college level. While in college, I babysat to make some extra money and everything kind of just started to make sense. I loved kids and I loved art.  I decided to transfer to USM where the Art Education just seemed perfect for me. I student taught at Raymond A. Geiger Elementary in Lewiston and Brunswick High School in Brunswick. I landed a part time art teaching position at Martel Elementary School in Lewiston, which ended up turning into full time. I did 6 years of “art on a cart” between Martel Elementary School, Longley Elementary School, and some time at Farwell Elementary School. In 2019, Martel and Longley combined into a new building, now Connors Elementary School.

What is your present teaching assignment?

This year will be at Connors Elementary School in Lewiston, teaching 37 classes in a 6 day rotating schedule. This will be my 4th year at Connors, but 10th year in the Lewiston School District. I was born and raised in Lewiston and I can’t see myself teaching anywhere else. 

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

I love teaching art because art is its own language. Our school is home to a variety of spoken languages but when they come into my room, the art speaks for itself. The seeing, creating, hands on nature of art and the climate of my room allows for success and the creativity to flow. Right now the biggest challenge is the buy in once I get students hooked, it’s smooth sailing. Other big challenges are beyond our control. Things like home life, poverty, the nature of life right now (i.e. Covid times), trauma, etc. 

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

The process has been really eye opening. When somebody nominates you in the first place, you feel finally really seen and appreciated. It’s a tough time for teachers right now, but just the nomination really boosted my attitude and helped affirm my “why”. After that, the application process was extremely reflective. As teachers, we constantly reflect on lessons and activities in our room but rarely have time to reflect on our philosophies of teaching, our values, ours beliefs in the classrooms. This process really grounded me in my work and in my beliefs. In writing my essays and even answering interview questions, the reflective nature of it all really helped me be myself and stay true to who I am. When I finally got the call from the program director, I was elated and overwhelmed, in the best way possible. My colleague and friend, Nes Griffin (who is 2017 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year), has been my rock through this process, and when I won she was my biggest cheerleader. Nes, along with administration, orchestrated the most amazing parade through my school where all of my students cheered for me. 

I finally got to meet with my cohort (the other county teachers of the year) and spend time working with them. All I can say is WOW! Maine has some AMAZING educators. I feel so lucky and empowered to be part of the 2022 cohort.

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? 

Nes Griffin, teaches grade 4 at Connors, has been a true mentor. I am lucky enough to be co-advisors of the civil rights team at our school with Nes and the way she affirms student identity in every aspect of education has been the biggest, most important thing I’ve learned from her. That one key piece has changed who I am as a teacher. 

Share a story of something you’ve learned from your student(s) that has impacted your teaching.

My time as the civil rights team co-advisor has transformed my outlook completely as a teacher. I’m lucky enough to teach the entire school, so getting to spend time with students on the civil rights team allows the student leaders and I to gain a different understanding for each other. As we started to do a lot of work on the civil rights team, I started to see their artwork change and become more personal. Kids starting adding more social justice flare to their art and add personal touches that they hadn’t previously. This further amplified the importance of affirming student identity in all aspects of school.

You’ve had professional development in communicating with the press since you’ve been selected as the Androscoggin 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?

The media professional development was so eye opening for me. There is so much more to doing interviews than just speaking. We learned a lot about sound bites and how important it is to stick to your sound bite. It helps you nail down what your message is and allows you to stay focused on that. This is really helpful for what I do because art is so much more then something pretty to look at. For some students, it is their pathway to learning, for some it is their outlet, for others it is their way to use their voice and make a change. 

What advice do you have for new teachers?

My message for new teachers would be to put a lot of priority on getting to know your students and build a relationship with every single one of them. Relationships and affirming students’ identities are the key to everything else and once that is established, the lessons, the planning, and your time together will be more successful and enjoyable. 

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