Archive for the ‘Opportunity’ Category


Maine State POL Champ

March 21, 2018

Allan Monga, Deering High School Junior

They came, they recited, and they were AMAZING! Students from the following high schools were this year’s Poetry Out Loud finalists:

  • Abigail vanLuling, Grade 12, Gorham High School
  • Hanna Lavenson, Grade 10, Messalonskee High School
  • Lauren Farmer, Grade 10, Rangeley Lakes Regional School
  • Emma Lombardo, Grade 11, Westbrook High School
  • Nelson Peterson, Grade 12, Oak Hill High School
  • Lydia Caron, Grade 12, Bangor High School
  • Wyatt Bates, Grade 11, Yarmouth High School
  • Richard Hilscher, Grade 12, North Yarmouth Academy
  • Lauren Dodge, Grade 12, Lee Academy
  • Katharine Kemper, Grade 10, Camden Hills Regional High School
  • Allan Monga, Grade 11, Deering High School

You can listen to them recite from the regional finals held earlier this winter on the Maine Arts Commission site.

Allan Monga, Deering High School

Yahooooo for Allan Monga from Deering who is Maine’s 2018 State Champ.  The poems he recited at the Waterville Opera House on March 20th at the state finals included “The Song of the Smoke” by W.E.B. Du Bois, “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron (George Gordon) and “In the Desert” by Stephen Crane. You can hear him recite “In the Desert” on Maine Public Radio.

The Maine Arts Commission is proud of all of the recipients and wish Allan the best at the national finals which will be held in Washington, D.C., on April  23-25. They will be live streamed – look for the link in a later blog post.

CONGRATULATIONS to Allan and all of the 9,500 students in schools across the state who participated this year. See hundreds of photos from the state finals on the Maine Arts Commission Facebook page.

Waterville High School jazz band under the direction of music educator Sue Barre provided music at the state finals

Poetry Out Loud is organized nationally by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation and administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission. It begins in Maine’s schools where school champions are selected to compete in two regional finals at which ten students are ultimately selected to recite at the state finals. One student, the state champion, moves on from the state finals to represent Maine at the national finals in Washington D.C., where students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico will compete for a total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends for the purchase of poetry books.

Lauren Dodge, Lee Academy

Charles Stanhope, Chair Maine Arts Commission, Allan Monga, Maine State Champion, Julie Richard, Executive Director, Maine Arts Commission


Dance Education Funding

March 19, 2018

Grant deadline: Wednesday, May 2

AUGUSTA-April 12, 2017—Dance education changes lives, yet only 5 percent of all schools in Maine offer it. The Maine Arts Commission is offering a grant program for schools and teaching artists that seek to bridge this gap and bring the power of dance to more schools. Applicants may apply for awards up to $2,250. The deadline for this new program is Wednesday, May 2, 2018.

John Morris leading a session at the MALI Mega conference, spring 2017

This program was launched in 2016 and has successfully funded 4 dance education residency’s. Each will have a story included on this blog during this school year.

The first teaching artist to provide the residency with the assistance of these funds was veteran dance educator John Morris. “Creative movement is meant to allow students the ownership of their own uniqueness,” Morris said. “I give students the foundational movement to invent and explore their own movement, and I guide them through the process of making their own dances.”

John is also a member of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Design Team and works with the teaching artist leaders.

Funding for the dance education grant was made possible this year by several dance studios and two high schools who came together for a benefit performance in November, 2017.

Karen Montanaro leading a session at Hampden Academy, December 2017

The Maine Arts Commission is pairing eligible PK-12 school districts with teaching artists from the Arts Commission roster. The roster includes 16 dancers.

“We are extremely appreciative of these contributions and the impact they will have on dance education in Maine,” said Julie Richard the Executive Director of the Maine Arts Commission. “There are so few dance education programs in our state and this is one important way we can make a difference to the students that we serve.”

If you’re a PK-12 educator or teaching artist looking to introduce students to the power of dance education, the Arts Commission encourages reviewing the grant guidelines and application criteria before applying for the May 2 deadline. The top qualifying schools selected will be eligible for the next funding cycle from September 1, 2018 through March 30, 2019.

For information visit the the grants and the teaching artist roster webpages at

For questions regarding the grants or current teaching roster, contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education,



New England Institute Courses

March 18, 2018

Encountering the Arts, Music assessment, G/T 

  • Encountering the Arts: Choice, Voice and Creativity, (hybrid) taught by Lindsay Pinchbeck – April 7 to June 9, 4.5 CEUs
  • Assessment in the Music Classroom, (online) taught by music educator, Jake Sturtevant – April 2 to June 11, 4.5 CEUs
  • Educating Gifted & Talented Learners, (online) taught by Grace Jacobs – April 2 to June 18, 4.5 CEUs

Encountering the Arts: Choice, Voice and Creativity – April 7 to June 9

You can join Lindsay Pinchbeck, MALI Design Team member, in her very own school, Sweetland School in Hope, and learn some wonderful strategies to incorporate into your classroom right away. Sweetland School is s a project based elementary program inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. Drama, Movement, Music, Poetry, Storytelling, and Visual Arts will be integrated across content areas: Math, Science, Social Studies, Reading and Writing.

Work with colleagues, build relationships, and ask questions of the professor, in person, for two Saturdays and have the convenience of doing the rest of the coursework online. Encountering the Arts: Choice, Voice and Creativity is one such hybrid course.

Assessment in the Music Classroom – April 2 to June 11

This online course taught by music educator and MALI Design Team member Jake Sturtevant provides looking closely at assessment practices through a collaborative and fine-tuned lens. It can provide unique opportunities for growth. Connecting new assessment practices to instruction can bring exciting changes to how we approach our students and their learning.

Participants will discuss how best to apply recent music assessment work to their own unique situations in their own school music programs. This will lead them to create a personalized plan for implementing new strategies. Assessment in the Music Classroom will provide a great opportunity to look closely at assessment practices.

Educating Gifted & Talented Learners

This introductory course provides foundational information relating to the field of gifted and talented education (i.e. history, laws, etc.), details characteristics of gifted students from various populations, describes how such students are identified and assessed, and presents up-to-date, research-based pedagogy relating to curriculum design and instruction.

It may be applied toward the 690 (Gifted & Talented) endorsement for the State of Maine teachers. Join Grace Jacobs for this Educating Gifted & Talented Learners online course.

If you have questions contact Catherine Ring, Executive Director, New England Institute for Teacher Education.


3-D Printing Expo

March 17, 2018

Fueling the STEAM Engine with 3D printing

April 27, 2018 – 8:00-3:00 – Thomas College

To keep up with the changing global economy, and satisfy Maine’s urgent need to create a technically capable workforce, we need to offer new approaches to hands-on STEAM learning.  An effective way to accomplish this objective is to continue to expand the use of three-dimensional (3D) printing and design in Maine’s K-12 schools, which has grown rapidly over the past several years.

Come learn how 3D printing and design can help to meet STEAM learning targets at the first annual 3D Printing Expo to be held on April 27 at Thomas College. This event, sponsored by the Thomas College Center for Innovation in Education, is open to Maine teachers, technical directors, school librarians and administrators engaged in or interested in expanding the use of 3D printing and design.

The goals of the STEAM Expo are:

  • To create a network of teachers and students engaged in three-dimensional printing and design.
  • To document and share success stories and challenges related to three-dimensional printing and design in K-12 settings.
  • To publicize resources and ideas for teachers and schools interested in adopting three-dimensional printing and design.
  • To engage teachers and students in the professional work for publicly sharing their practice.


Conference Structure

Presentations by teachers describing innovative K-12 projects and cutting-edge STEAM curriculum, specifically related to 3D printing

Dialogue and networking between educators

Light breakfast and lunch will be provided


Session Time Title Presenter Abstract/Slides
Arrival and Refreshments 8:00-8:30 Registration and Light Breakfast
Expo Kick-Off 8:30-9:00 Expo Overview Laurie LaChance, Thomas College

Dr. Kate Cook Whitt, Thomas College


David Perloff, Perloff Family Foundation


Amanda Nguyen, MDOE

Session A 9:00-10:20  Session 1 Maggie Boemmels, Line Elementary School and Shapleigh Memorial School
 Session 2 John McKechnie, Ellsworth High School
 Session 3
 Session 4  Richard Reichenbach, Carrabec Community School
Networking Break 10:20-10:40 Conversation and Refreshments
Session B 10:40-12:00  Session 5
 Session 6 Mat Brown and Karen Fream, East End Community School
 Session 7
 Session 8 Terri Dawson, Gorham Middle School
Networking Lunch 12:00-1:00 Structured Networking Lunch
Session C 1:00-2:20  Session 9 Gina Jandreau, Madawaska Elementary School
 Session 10
 Session 11 David Trask, Vassalboro Community School
 Session 12
Team Time 2:20-2:40
Expo Wrap-Up 2:40-3:00 Expo Wrap-Up Dr. Kate Cook WhittThomas College

Who Are They? Oxford Hills Region Part 3

March 15, 2018

Dance Studios

This blog post is the third of a series that aims to bring awareness to you about the many visual and performing art venues and educational opportunities in the Oxford Hills. The Oxford Hills Region of Maine is a perfect setting for the arts as it is centrally located where the rolling foothills of the White Mountains and beautiful lakes regions intersect. Located 45 miles north of Portland, 35 miles east of New Hampshire, and 20 miles west of Lewiston-Auburn, the region hosts multiple year-round opportunities for learners of all ages and a thriving arts community. The Oxford Hills School District (SAD17) is Maine’s largest school district in geographic area, with nine community schools, a regional middle school, a comprehensive high school and the Streaked Mountain School, an alternative school for high school students. The Oxford Hills include the towns of Buckfield, Harrison, Hartford, Hebron, Mechanic Falls, Norway, Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Poland, Sumner, Waterford and West Paris. A great big THANKS to Diana Arcadipone for writing this series of posts.

Three Modern Dance Studios with Complimentary Philosophies

Art Moves Dance Studio

“Every kid is hungry for dance!” says Debi Irons, founder and artistic director of Art Moves, a dance studio located in Norway, Maine. In her vast experience as a professional dancer and dance educator, she laments that dance attracts mostly girls. Boys are naturally drawn to dance, but because it is culturally frowned upon, they tend not to participate without explicit support from parents and teachers.

A natural catalyst, Debi Irons wanted to offer dance programs in the schools because performing wasn’t quite enough for her. The joy of discovering a teenager who thrived and made dance her profession drove Debi to focus on dance education. When she offered dance programs in San Fransisco in the 1980’s, she found troubled youth in small alternative high schools who were passionate about dance. These urban kids taught Debi how to street dance, and she taught them self respect. She taught them how to treat each other and how to expect more from life. “Magic happens when students get to the place where they feel free and unselfconscious. Teachers of all disciplines already have the tool kit within them to ignite their students’ creativity”.

In 1988, Debi moved back to the Norway/South Paris area where she had grown up, and opened Art Moves. For thirty years, Art Moves has provided an environment in which students can discover their own self expression. The dance studio, located at 13 Cottage Street, occupies the entire third floor of a grand historic building where dance technique is taught and performances are held. Variant Dance is a developmentally appropriate technique that combines with creativity and self expression. Teaching variant dance could be perceived as the mission of the studio. Art Moves provides opportunities for students who may not easily have access to such a sophisticated and professional experience.

The other driving force behind Art Moves is music. As a dancer, Debi’s preference is improvisation to live music (jazz, hip hop, classical, Afro-Brazilian, etc.) As a teacher, combining music that students have never heard before interspersed with music that they love, is the most effective tool to getting kids to move and grow outside of themselves. The body is the instrument.

Art Moves also hosts a group of Brazilian dance companies annually to tour Maine and conduct workshops and performances in the schools.  Last year, they visited Oxford Elementary School, Hebron Station School, Hartford-Sumner Elementary School, Buckfield High School and various community centers. The Brazilians perform with visual artists and musicians as well. This program also offers a dance exchange for Art Moves Dance Ensemble to visit Brazil for up to one month to study, create and perform.

Currently Art Moves offers variant dance and technique classes for kids, teens and adults at the studio. Art Moves serves hundreds annually between the studio, public schools and private dance studios. Art Moves holds two studio shows annually in collaboration with Expansion Arts and offers a summer dance intensive, Art Moves offers visiting performances and workshops through daily, weekly or long term dance residencies in the schools, in-house field days and/or after school programs. If your school is interested in inviting one of the Brazilian dance groups, Art Moves Dance Ensemble, or Debi Irons to your school, or any other in-house programs, contact For additional information and on-going news; Like Art Moves Dance Studio on Facebook or go to

Expansion Arts Dance Studio

“High standards of training and professionalism” are attributed to my early studies with ArtMoves says Sasha Richardson, Owner and Creative Director of Expansion Arts dance studio. Sasha grew up dancing in the Oxford Hills, starting at the age of 6. While attending Oxford Hills High School, Sasha discovered Debi Irons and ArtMoves which were a major influence on her career path.  She would later join the ArtMoves Ensemble as a professional dancer, and collaborate with ArtMoves to combine studio performances and shows. 

Since Dance was not a part of the curriculum at OHCHS, Sasha Richardson studied music, drums, band, choir, music theory and more.  Devoted to pursuing dance in college, Sasha chose Long Island University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree that integrated dance, anatomy and wellness. All of her professors were artists and performers from the dance world in NYC. She tapped all available resources including entering her work at NYC’s Dance Theater Workshop, to help shape her philosophy that combines performing, choreographing, teaching and strength training. Sasha was starting to define a style with a modern base and technique base yet with an eye to strength development. “We must work with what we are given in terms of our natural talents, and start from where we are”, Richardson says.

After college, Sasha returned to the Oxford Hills because she “needed her Maine people”. In New York, you stay in one path to specialize, and are not able to branch out so easily. Sasha was determined to dance, train, take classes, create work, rehearse work, perform, teach and choreograph. In Maine, you can branch out.

In 2015, Sasha opened Expansion Arts and soon needed to move to a larger studio. She started with a condensed schedule of 8 classes per week (Tap, Modern, Jazz, Ballet, Zumba and Hip Hop, for kids and adults with age breaks 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, 13 and up) and Creative Movement (for ages 3-5).  The age distinctions are important from an anatomy standpoint and physical development standpoint. Expansion Arts now offers 13 classes per week and has grown from serving 35 dancers to 60 dancers, most of whom are taking 2 – 6 classes each week).  Expansion Arts teachers include Sasha Richardson, Kim Hamlin, Tegan Bullard and Karianna Merrill.

Through Expansion Arts, Sasha has refined her philosophy of training, performing and teaching with a focus on dance anatomy (basics of how the body functions and the kinesiology of how the body moves). She expanded her dance anatomy background to combine with a massage therapy training program to inform teaching dance with additional knowledge of the muscular skeletal system. Student injuries are extremely rare.

Sasha has served the local schools by choreographing for musicals in schools, drama clubs, and community shows. She works with guidance counselors to help students who are having trouble in school and has taught at the Oxford Hills Middle Schools in their “Quest” day for four consecutive years, (where students get to study dance for a longer period of time and visit a real dance studio). Expansion Arts offers choreography and residencies to schools within a 30 mile radius of South Paris, ME. For additional information, contact, go to Facebook. You can also send email to

Neveah Dance Circus and Dance Studio

The Gentempo sisters started Nevaeh Dance Circus and held their first practices in a church basement in Oxford, Maine because they wanted more opportunities to perform. Nevaeh is heaven spelled backwards. Nettie and Hannah grew up in a home filled with dance and music; their mother formally trained in ballet and their father playing the piano. As a young child, Nettie studied ballet in her mother’s studio Green Mountain Ballet in Poultney, VT and later trained with Art Moves. As teenagers, the sisters started a performing group. Nettie studied in Portland, ME after winning a Maine based So You Think You Can Dance competition.

Currently 9 dancers perform with Nevaeh Dance Circus. Their Concept is unique as it combines performance art with dance, incorporates theater, magic, live music, singing, the spoken word, poetry, and interactive segments with the audience. Their Performance season is primarily in summertime as their outdoor public performances focus in unique locations such as Norway Lake, Portland Art Walks, Longley’s Square, Moore Park in South Paris, Old Port Music Festival in Deering Park, Portland.  They also perform in outdoor festivals such as Great North Music Festival, Green Grass Jubilee Festival, Norway Art Festival, Westbrook Together Days. Dance Circus also performs at private camps such as Fernwood Cove, Camp Wigwam with specific programming for youth. A recent project presents a performance to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” soundtrack that will collaborate with visual artist, A Minor, and incorporate projections.

A 2017 project grant from the Maine Arts Commission enabled Nevaeh to produce 3 summer performances in Longley Square with guest performers Fred Garbo, Debi Irons and  (Ripleys Believe it or Not) Sword swallower Nick Penny. Nevaeh Dance Circus serves an audience from 25 people up to 200. Shows produced by Nevaeh are contribution based (all are welcome regardless of ability to pay).

The dance studio offers classes in ballet, Hulaloops (hula-hoops), Dance fusion, Creative Lyric (storytelling and dance that follows the lyrics of a song), Juggling and Improvisational Theater (taught by Steve Corning), Dance Games (30 minutes that gets kids moving and using their imaginations), Baby and Me (multi-generational ages), and Belly Dance (taught by Tegan Bullard).   Classes and workshops coincide with the school year and serve approximately 50 students annually. HulaLoop classes have beeb offered at Guy Rowe School, West Paris Elementary, Paris Elementary School, Otisfield Elementary, Raymond Elementary School (and most schools in SAD 17).

As of the Spring of 2017, Nevaeh Dance Studio is based on the second floor of 290 Main Street, Norway. Classes serve 18-month olds up to adults.  For more information about classes, workshops or performances, go to Nevaeh or email


MALI Winter Retreat

March 14, 2018

Amazing opportunity to learn and exchange

Winter Retreat participants. photo credit: Chris Pinchbeck

Thirty Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders met last Saturday for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) winter retreat. It was a great opportunity to gather with friends and colleagues from across Maine.


    • To provide an opportunity for the MALI community to come together to listen to and learn from each other
    • To review the work that has taken place during the phase underway
    • To address ideas and the latest topics in education/research and respond to timely issues relevant to Maine teachers
    • To provide information and/or context for participants 
    • To consider topics for the next phase of MALI

We accomplished the above and a whole lot more. There is nothing that compares to coming together with visual and performing arts teachers who have so much in common. So many topics to discuss and listen to what each person has to offer. “Getting off our islands” and coming together with “our community” on a winter day in March is refreshing!

The agenda was filled with art making from the Growth Mindset opening session to the finishing session that concluded with a meditative heart exercise.


  • Growth Mindset review and revisit with Lindsay Pinchbeck
  • MALI This We Believe statements review
  • MALI collaboration with art teacher Hope Lord and music teacher Dorie Tripp
  • Ukulele’s with music teacher Kate Smith
  • Update on Proficiency Based from Department of Education Diana Doiron
  • Looking ahead and considering ideas for Phase 8

If you are considering applying to be a Teacher Leader or a Teaching Artist Leader for MALI in Phase 8, please send an email to me – stating your interest. Applications will be available in May 2018.


POL State Finals Postponed

March 13, 2018

Tuesday, March 20

Time to read Snow Day by Billy Collins in anticipation of the State Poetry Out Loud finals postponed to Tuesday, March 20, 3:00 p.m., Waterville Opera House. Doors open to the public at 2:30, no charge to attend. Waterville Senior High School Jazz Band will perform under the direction of Sue Barre, music educator extraordinaire.

We are very proud that Maine consistently ranks high amongst the U.S. national participation. This year, 9,500 Maine students from 39 high schools participated across the state. And now, 11 students advance to the Poetry Out Loud State Finals, being broadcast live on March 14 from the Waterville Opera House.

The Arts Commission is collaborating with Boothbay Region Television to broadcast the state finals live throughout the state, as well as streaming the event via Facebook Live.
To see the students who will move onto the Maine Poetry Out Loud State Finals and hear their recitations from the state regional competition, click here. If you can’t make it to Waterville, remember to tune in live on the Maine Arts Commission Facebook page.

Snow Day

Today we woke up to a revolution of snow,
its white flag waving over everything,
the landscape vanished,
not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness,
and beyond these windows

the government buildings smothered,
schools and libraries buried, the post office lost
under the noiseless drift,
the paths of trains softly blocked,
the world fallen under this falling.

In a while, I will put on some boots
and step out like someone walking in water,
and the dog will porpoise through the drifts,
and I will shake a laden branch
sending a cold shower down on us both.

But for now I am a willing prisoner in this house,
a sympathizer with the anarchic cause of snow.
I will make a pot of tea
and listen to the plastic radio on the counter,
as glad as anyone to hear the news

that the Kiddie Corner School is closed,
the Ding-Dong School, closed.
the All Aboard Children’s School, closed,
the Hi-Ho Nursery School, closed,
along with—some will be delighted to hear—

the Toadstool School, the Little School,
Little Sparrows Nursery School,
Little Stars Pre-School, Peas-and-Carrots Day School
the Tom Thumb Child Center, all closed,
and—clap your hands—the Peanuts Play School.

So this is where the children hide all day,
These are the nests where they letter and draw,
where they put on their bright miniature jackets,
all darting and climbing and sliding,
all but the few girls whispering by the fence.

And now I am listening hard
in the grandiose silence of the snow,
trying to hear what those three girls are plotting,
what riot is afoot,
which small queen is about to be brought down.

Billy Collins, “Snow Day” from Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (New York: Random House, 2001). Copyright © 2001 by Billy Collins. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

Source: Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (Random House Inc., 2001)

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