Archive for the ‘Opportunity’ Category

h1

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.

h1

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. 

h1

Truth Tellers

August 5, 2022

Fabulous opportunity

As you jump back into a new school year, below is information on two excellent opportunities planned for Maine educators. Please share with your colleagues. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me at meartsed@gmail.com. Thanks ~ Argy

REGISTRATION LINK FOR VIEWING THE FILM

https://forms.gle/JJ371GkatKcSV7Nj8

AMERICANS WHO TELL THE TRUTH PRESENTS

REGISTRATION LINK FOR VIEWING THE FILM

https://forms.gle/JJ371GkatKcSV7Nj8

h1

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.
h1

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.

h1

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.

h1

Maine Art Ed Summer Retreat

June 13, 2022

Join your colleagues and make art

The Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) is holding a summer retreat that brings art educators together to make art. The retreat will be held at Pilgrim Lodge on Lake Cobbosseecontee in West Gardiner, July 6 – 9. The cost is $300 which includes room and board and access to the facility.

You’re invited to bring a project you’re working on or start a new one. Pilgrim Lodge is an inspiring camp facility. There are 13 cabins connected by a boardwalk, 100 acres of forest, and a beautiful waterfront with swimming and paddling for all. Every cabin is equipped with a screened porch, bathroom, and shower. 

The Main Lodge has lots of room to spread out with all of your art supplies or you can set up on the boardwalk or walk the trails and labyrinth for inspiration. If you want to bring a friend or family member to enjoy the beauty feel free! This is MAEA sponsored but it is not necessary to be a member or even an artist to attend. 

REGISTRATION and a short video showing more of what to expect. 

If you have questions please contact

Allie Rimkunas

207-653-0941 (call or text)

allie.rimkunas@gorhamschools.org

h1

MAEA Conference

May 20, 2022

Professional Development at it’s Finest

RSU #40 Art teachers Brooke Holland and Anthony Lufkin have been busy planning the annual Maine Art Education Association Fall Conference at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and Monson Arts. This is the first conference being held at Haystack since September 2019, hence the theme. The conference is scheduled for September 16-18, at both Haystack and Monson locations. Registration opens on June 1 and you can prepare by reviewing the workshops that are being offered and the conference details. The cost is $295.00 (for MAEA members) and includes workshop, room, and delicious food. Some workshops have an additional materials fee. Registration opens June 1st so get ready! Studio descriptions are on the MAEA website now and are looking for volunteers to be studio assistants. If you are interested in being an assistant please respond to this google form. Assistants will be assigned on a first come first serve basis and will receive priority registration.  

Workshop Sessions at Haystack

  • Carved Alabaster – Anne Alexander
  • Relief Printing: Playing with Layers – Holly Berry
  • Mixed Metals – Maggi Blue
  • Ceramics, Form & Surface – Carolyn Brown
  • Large-Scaler Prints – Alexis Iammarino
  • Digital Fabrication – James Rutter
  • Tapestry Weaving – Bobbie Tilkens-Fisher
  • Pewter Casting – Simon ‘Siem’ van der Ven

Workshop Sessions at Monson​

  • Ceramics, Wheel-Throwing – Jemma Gascoine ​ 
  • ​Wood Engraving – Lisa Pixley

The descriptions, material lists, and facilitator biography’s for all the workshops are on the MAEA website.

h1

Spring Choral Concert

May 12, 2022

Camden Hills Regional High School

The Camden Hills Regional HS Chorale, Chamber Singers and Treble Choir will present their Spring Choral Concert on Tuesday, May 17th at 7:00 PM in the Strom auditorium. The ensembles, directed by Kimberly Murphy and accompanied by Matthew Mainster will perform a variety of selections, featuring many soloists and guest artists.

Kim Murphy

Of special note will be BSO percussionist Nancy Rowe accompanying the Treble Choir on xylophone in their performance of Mark Patterson’s “Edges of the Night” – a song that highlights the plight of refugees. Ms. Rowe will also play the djembe to accompany two selections by the Chorale and Chamber Singers. A guest string quartet: Sarah Glenn (violin), Heidi Karod (violin), Linda Vaillancourt (viola) and April Reed-Cox (cello) will accompany the Chamber Singers’ performance of “Deep Peace” written by Elaine Hagenberg and Ola Gjeilo’s “The Ground.” Both selections incorporate the theme of peace, with Ola Gjeilo’s composition ending with the lyrics “Dona Nobis Pacem” (grant us peace).

Nancy Rowe

Additional themes concurrent in many of the selections are that of youth, and hope through music. Young singers in grades 3 – 8 will join the high school Chorale in a stirring rendition of “Rise Up” – a song made popular by Andra Day.  The performance will feature many soloists including Sara Ackley, Alyssa Lewis, Lenigha White, Noelle Delano and young singers Rowan McWilliams and Nathan Gomez. The string quartet will return to accompany the Treble Choir in a selection which highlights the beauty and hope of music in “Alway Something Sings.” With text by Ralph Waldo Emerson and music by Dan Forrest, this selection also highlights guest singer, Lydia Day. The theme of hope for our youth continues with the Kyle Pederson composition of “Remember the Children.” This song will feature four soloists: Audrey Leavitt, Aly Shook, Lucas Marriner-Ward and Daniel McGregor.

Seniors Audrey Leavitt and Aly Shook will return to the stage as they lead the student a cappella ensemble: Fortissima in three selections. This extra-curricular student-led ensemble has been rejuvenated under their direction and is flourishing in dedication and musicality. Of special note will be a Fortissima performance of Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers,” arranged by Junior, Grace Yanz.

Throughout the evening many soloists will be featured, including Joshua Kohlstrom, Iselin Bratz, Nora Finck, Abigail Kohlstrom, Trey Freeman, Grace Yanz, Jocelyn Serrie, Charlotte Thackeray, Charlotte Nelson, Sophie Ryan, George Bickham, Maren Kinney, Alyssa Bland, Isabella Kinney and flautist Cabot Adams.

During this joyful concert student achievements in the MMEA District III and All State music festivals will be recognized, along with a tribute to our outstanding senior musicians. The concert is free to the public. As of this writing, masks, for both performers and audience members, are optional. For more information, contact director Kimberly Murphy at kim.murphy@fivetowns.net  See you at the show!

I’m certain this is going to be a spectacular concert since Kim is retiring at the end of this school year.

h1

Traveling and Learning

May 5, 2022

Fast forward

I’m always surprised how much I learn when traveling from home for a length of time (more than 4 days). The pandemic has slowed down my opportunity to travel but fortunately, I had the chance during two weeks in April. I boarded a plane on April 5 and returned on the 19th and in total I took 5 flights including round trip to Dublin. It was an amazing adventure in the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Most of the time I was with my son, Nicholas, and part of the time I traveled with Central School, South Berwick’s music teacher Kate Smith and her two daughters. Many friends and colleagues asked me to share my trip so this blogpost gives you the highlights along with some of my favorite photos.

DAY 1, Dublin to Northern Ireland, April 6

I landed in Dublin, after a short night from Boston, at 8am. Nicholas was the official driver and adapted quickly, from the opposite side of the car on the opposite side of the road (of what is familiar to Americans).

We headed north to Belfast. Nicholas visited the Titanic Museum while I toured the city to see the many murals that document the stories of the unrest that has gone on for years between the Catholics and Protestants. My guide, Joe, was very knowledgeable and holds George Mitchell (Maine’s past Senator) in high esteem. I’m sure that many of you know Mitchell served as the US Special Envoy for Northern Ireland (1995–2001), appointed by President Clinton and negotiated the peace treaty. Negotiations took place in a church, since it was viewed ‘safe’, and Joe was sure to point it out. We stopped at the four gates that continue to separate the communities. Each day at 6pm three of the gates are closed and not unlocked until morning. The tall fences that separates the two sides are still in place.

The Peace Mural

The troubles still exist but if Joe was any reflection, life will continue to get better for all. He joked with other tour guides along the almost 2 hour tour. At the last mural I took a photo of Joe and another guide, arms around each other, big smiles. When we returned to the car he said “I’m Catholic and he’s Protestant. Things will be better.” He holds such hope!

After a delicious fish and chip lunch we walked along the harbor and headed north to our Airbnb near the Northern Ireland coast. Our hosts were amazing, Mary Jane and Hugh and daughter Katie. We were in a cottage on their sheep farm in Cloyfin – a beautiful view in all directions with lush green farmland. They invited us for meatballs and pasta supper. Katie was working on her senior sculpture project, a huge welded abstract piece. Needless to say, it was fun and we were grateful to be able to relax in their cozy home after a long day.

Day 2, Northern Ireland, April 7

We woke up in our warm cottage to a sky that looked stormy and by 7am the rain was really coming down. So we packed our rain pants and jackets as I remembered my guide Joe in Belfast saying: “if you don’t like the weather at the moment just wait, because in Ireland we have all four seasons in one day.” (Sounds similar to our Maine saying about the weather). Interestingly, not long after we started, the sun came out and stayed for most of our day on the Causeway Coast.

We could see with our first glimpse of the water that it was very windy. We learned later that the wind was blowing 50 miles per hour. Dunluce Magheracross was a quick stop. We could barely open the car doors and walk the 100 feet to the lookout it was so windy. I thought I saw the car lift off the ground on the way back to it.

We headed east to Dunluce Castle which, due to the high winds was free for visitors. The visitors center was well done (educational info) and filled with about 25 grade K and 1 students and their teachers who said it was their first field trip since the start of the pandemic. The castle was built on the edge of a steep crag in the 16th century. Considering it’s age is well preserved and maintained. As we left the castle area, the children were entering and with every gust of wind the children screeched. What a site and sound!

Looking out from Dunluce Castle

We visited a second castle, Dunseverick, which was very different than Dunluce, with only one wall remaining but the setting incredible. The view and lush green invited us to walk high above the water.

Remains of Dunseverick Castle

Giants Causeway was our next stop. The visitors center was very good with demonstrations of how the volcano formed Giants Causeway. In the 1740s it was an artist who was partially responsible for spreading the word of the amazing place. Susanna Drury spent 3 months painting the rock formation. She made two prints from her paintings and they traveled to spread the work of the “astonishing place”. The octagon shaped rocks are a site to behold. With only a 2 meter tide, the salt water preserves the rocks – deep and dark blackness. Climbing from one to the next rock felt like they were intentionally placed just for our fun. Ahhhh… mother natures gifts! The spot was the only location the entire day where we experienced many visitors. We continued on the trail beyond Giants and found few people. The sweep of the ocean views – simply breathtaking, every step of the way. When we weren’t looking at the ocean, we feasted our eyes on the lush green fields filled with sheep including many new borns.

Giants Causeway

Lunch at The Nook, which used to be a school, close by Giants for delicious seafood chowder made with salmon, mussels, cockles, prawns, haddock and brown bread on the side. Sooooo good!!

Onto Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which, yes, it is a rope bridge, 100 feet above the water. It leads to the fisherman’s island where in 1803 the report read: 82 fishers, 21 salmon fishers 19 fish carriers (it’s about a mile walk to the bridge from the visitors center). Unfortunately, due to high winds, the bridge was closed. Fortunately, we could see the island and imagine the fisherman at work. Sadly the salmon fishery is all but gone.

Carrick-a-Rede Bridge

Our last stop for the afternoon was at the Dark Hedges. One hundred and fifty Beech trees were planted in 1775 by James Stuart to line the entrance to the family home he built. This has been a filming location for HBO’s series Game of Thrones®, representing Kingsroad. The trees are off shoots from the originals and are intertwined and entangled to create a stunning site. A great way to end an amazing day!

Dark Hedges

DAY 3, heading southwest into Ireland, April 8

We woke to hail beating on the cottage windows. In our first hour of driving we went through rain, sleet, hail and snow and we could see snow on the mountain tops in the distance. Not long afterwards the sun came out for the rest of the day.

We stopped in Derry or Londonderry which is a walled city built in the 1500’s. There are amazing political murals throughout. We walked alongside of the wall, through archways and on top of the wall. We were surprised how wide the wall was in some places – enough for two cars.

Onto county Donegal for a stop at Lough Eske Castle for a lovely “afternoon tea” (at noon). We had delicious golden Irish tea, savory sandwiches, pastries and sweet treats. The castle, sculptures, 2D art including photographs were all spectacular. It was fun to learn the ‘proper way’ to drink tea. By the way it doesn’t include extending your pinky finger.

Lough Eske Castle, afternoon tea

On to the Donegal Craft Village which consists of 8 artists studios and shops. My favorite was The Pear in Paper. Artist Lynn and two young woman were making linoleum prints and letterpress cards. They use a treadle base letterpress that was built in 1872. Lynn is self-taught using books and YouTube videos written and created by Americans. The shop, studio, art and conversation were all delightful!

Our next Airbnb named Lignaul Cottage was a 1/2 mile down a small dirt road. Our view again was a field of sheep and it was very quiet. We had a delicious supper at a local pub.

DAY 4, traveling south near the western coast, April 9

We woke to sunshine and yet again a brief rain shower within an hour. It didn’t last long and the day was a warmer, no wind and lots of sunshine. We started the day with a traditional Irish breakfast at Mrs. B’s in Kellybegs. We opted for the smaller version, called the ‘mini’. Afterwards, a walk along the water to see the giant colorful fishing boats and a stop at a very pretty beach for a short walk on our way west.

Traditional Irish breakfast

Onto Slieve League – amazing cliffs above the sea. All along our 30 minute walk to the top we stopped for pictures and for our eyes to absorb the beauty. The great distances on the steep walk were dizzying. We could see to the very top of the cliffs. It resembled Katahdin’s Knifes Edge. In the visitors center we read many stories and mysteries about Slieve League Cliffs, including this one: In the late 1600’s a young girl, Bridget McGinley, was snatched by an eagle and later dropped and she survived. Her grandchildren remember her showing them the scars on her left chest where the eagle held on with his talons.

On the way down this majestic mountainside (200 feet high), Nicholas walked on a piece of land that jutted out in the water. He was but a speck at the furthest point. This was an important area during WWII, pilots depended on the words made out of rocks on the mountain sides and the lookouts that were installed to worn the pilots that the area was neutral territory.

Slieve League Cliffs

Rockwell Kent lived and painted close by in 1926. When he arrived he asked where the most remote place was to live for 2 years. We learned from a couple of Irish hikers that we were fortunate to be at Slieve League with the weather sunny and no wind. They had tried to visit on several occasions with no luck due to the wind and rain.

We spent the afternoon scooting along narrow roads stopping at a beautiful and remote waterfall, admiring the sea, and watching the young lambs play in the grassy knolls.

Our last stop for the day was at Ardara where they make and sell beautiful tweed clothing, hats, and scarfs. The main weaver works on a 300 year old loom and he’s 85 years old. From start to finish it takes 3 weeks to create a batch of capes. I have such an appreciation for the crafters and the process having done some dabbling w the craft in the past. And all of the items absolutely beautiful!

Beautiful cape, Ardara

DAY 5, Donegal to Sligo, April 10

We drove from Donegal to Sligo with two stops. The first was at Eagle’s Rock in County Leitrim. A short path led us to a gate with a walk over ladder or stile, as it’s called. The stone covered road is in fine condition for a hike over commonage. A commonage is land held in common ownership on which 2 or more landowners or farmers, in this case all over Ireland, have grazing rights.

In the distance to our left Eagle Rock loomed up. It was formed about 12,000 years ago by two small glaciers that dug into the mountain’s horizontally-embedded limestone. It was somewhat magical and eerie at the same time with the wind whistling through the cracks and the angle seemed to shift as we walked along. Even more magical were the hundreds of sheep who were slowly moving along eating the grass. They’re everywhere! Each with a dyed spot of blue or pink, to identify the owners. Even the newborns were marked.

Eagle Rock

All day long it looked like the sky would open up dropping rain but it surprisingly remained grey and damp. We stopped at the church and cemetery in Sligo where William Yeats is buried before heading to hike Benbulbin.

Benbulbin is a flat topped mountain in County Sligo. The mountain loomed up as we hiked a trail that circled near the base. The area is well maintained even w what appeared to be clear cutting taking place. We landed at a BandB with a room that looked up at the amazing mountain. And what a surprise to find Maine products in the bathroom. Our very kind BandB owner Maureen had no idea where she got them.

Benbulbin

DAY 6, east to Dublin, April 11

Today we drove from the west side of Ireland in Sligo to the east side, Dublin. It took about 3 hours. Dropped our stuff at the Leixlip Manor, dates from 1700, very cool place.

We drove into Dublin, 25 minutes away. First stop was at EPIC which is home to small eating places and shops with the majority being the home of the Irish Emigration Museum. It is very well done. With passport in hand visitors wind their way through several rooms that include the stories of almost 300 Irish people. It includes the history while intertwining the journeys, education, politics, the arts, and much more.

Afterwards we walked and walked through the city viewing flowers, sculptures, and the Irish people themselves. We stopped at the sculpture of Oscar Wilde, walked the Trinity College campus to see other sculptures. Some of the buildings were very ornate with interesting details.

We met a friends granddaughter who is studying in Dublin and had a pleasant visit over supper. Our walk back to the car was pleasant especially walking over the bridge again with the end of day light for our last full day in Ireland. Back to the manor for a short night.

Day is done, Dublin

DAY 7, Flight to Amsterdam, April 12

I was pretty excited especially when I realized my last trip to Amsterdam was in 1975 when I was traveling during spring break. I was at the university in Copenhagen as an exchange student. We spent the day at the Rijksmuseum, mostly to see the Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. Newly cleaned and hanging behind glass. And, there were others that I really love by Johannes Vemeer, Peter Claesz, Van Gogh.

Afterwards we walked along the canals being careful not to step in front of the many, many people on bicycles. We had supper on the canal as we watched the boats go by peacefully. Beet Dutch meatballs called Bitterballens. Ordered them w beets instead of meat. Mmmmm!

DAY 8, a visit to the tulips, WOWZER!, April 13

This day was a dream day! I am so very fortunate to have this adventure and I am doubly grateful for it! I’ve dreamed about walking through the tulips, grateful this dream came true!

We met Nicholas’ friend Pegah who has lived in Amsterdam for many years at the train station to travel 30 minutes out of Amsterdam to see and walk through the tulip fields. The tulip area we went to is in the town of Hillegrom. We walked 20 minutes from the train station to Ruigrok fields and were glad that a young tulip grower created a place where visitors can actually get up close with the tulips. We learned so much about growing tulips, FOR THE BULBS, while speaking to the owner who was a delight! It makes perfect sense that the tulip farmers are not interested in people walking all over their fields. The place was fun as you can probably tell from the photo.

Singing in the tulips

We continued walking another 15 minutes to the center of town and along the way we passed several more fields of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. The smell was amazing as well. We had a lovely lunch and headed back to Amsterdam.

It was a sunny day so took the afternoon and toured the canals by boat learning the history of the canals. Amsterdam is a beautiful city, easy to get around. Fun to watch the people, bike riders, and enjoy the food and art everywhere.

Amsterdam canals seen from the water

It was a wonderful last day with Nicholas. He has been an amazing guide and traveling buddy. I said so long to Amsterdam.

DAY 9, off to England, April 14

I got on an early morning flight from Amsterdam to London and met Kate and Mikayla Smith at the airport. They flew all night from Boston. We hopped on a bus and headed to Oxford where Kate’s daughter Alaina spent the semester. spending two days in Oxford. Oxford has mostly very old structures, some from the 1100’s, and are well cared for. The blending of the new structures w the old is fabulous.

We enjoyed street artists, the old prison, a short walk along the canal, and visiting a couple of shops. The day ended in a traditional English pub with fish and chips!

DAY 10, Oxford, April 15

A delightful day starting with breakfast and morning prayer at a small and amazingly beautiful Catholic Church. I was reminded that it is “American Good Friday”. Soon after we met up with Mik and Alaina and spent much of the day at the Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum. I found both collections impressive and mind boggling, not to mention the physical spaces of each building, attached but separate.

My favorite part of the Museum of Natural History included a show on biodiversity that combined the art of contemporary artist and environmentalist Kurt Jackson and responses of Oxford researchers. Kurt’s art is from locations across the UK. I loved the way the exhibit articulates the importance of the artists observations. His small studies and large paintings are lovely.

One of Kurt Jackson’s art

Walking into Pitt Rivers was like walking into a huge organized antique shop. It has over 500,000 objects from many parts of the world. Three floors full. I loved looking at the patterns on the fabrics, baskets, pottery, masks, tools, dishware, and weapons. And imagining the people wearing and using and creating them. How the people lived each day with their daily rituals and traditions and the stories they told.

The weather is sunny and 68 degrees, so pleasurable walking and seeing buildings and details on doors, fences, streets, and so much more. The day ended at a local restaurant w a beer, local musician singing and playing guitar and in the next room an art closing. The show included paintings created during the pandemic by a woman who is full of energy and a zest for living fully.

Grateful for this amazing day!

DAY 11, Oxford and London, Saturday, April 16

We started the morning with breakfast at a little cafe with a interesting designed pizza oven with outside tables next to the bazaar in Oxford. We visited the Ashmolean Museum, thrilled to see the Camille Pissarro exhibit. Their collection has many of his and those he painted side by side with Claude Monet and Paul Cezanne. He established a group that included 15 artists who were learning together. Pissarro is considered by many the father of Impressionism but what I saw in the show was a ‘learning from each other’ artists-friends community. There was even one Vincent Van Gogh piece and a few by Georges Seurat. The light, color, texture and depiction of the every day lives of ‘regular people’ – spectacular. And the story behind the story was how Pissarro’s wife held the family together and enriched their lives, artists and their 7 children, all artists. Not enough time to explore the rest of the museum, but the collection is enormous. I am so glad we visited.

We headed to London by bus and did some walking to see Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, London eye, flower beds, birds, sculptures, and tons of people everywhere.

Mik, Kate, Alaina

DAY 12, London, Sunday, April 17

Fortunately our apartment for 2 nights was in a location where a short walk led to interesting locations and small surprises. On my way to see Big Ben I saw people looking through a black iron fence. It was the royal band being inspected for the day. Not exactly like Frank inspecting the troops at MASH 4077. Orderly, precision in a relaxed way.

My next surprise was the open and inviting doors to the Royal Military Chapel. I was greeted at the door by a priest who invited me to stay for the Easter service starting in 30 minutes. I thanked him and asked about listening to the choir who was practicing for the morning service. The church was enormous and beautiful but even more so was the sound of the organ and choir. I listened as the priest gave the guard details about where to seat the royal family members in their arrival.

Walked along admiring the beautiful flowers in the park that extends for blocks in front of Buckingham Palace. Big Ben loomed up in front of me as I came onto Parliament Square with elaborate churches and a small park with several monuments. David Lloyd George’s was dramatic. The sound of a bag piper was warming along with the sunshine and 65 degrees. The massive number of people going every which way was mind boggling! In contrast, on the route back to the apartment I took side streets and was struck at the sight of no one.

My last fun surprise of the morning was the sound of the royal band leaving their inspection area and marching to the palace. Stopped at a cafe for brunch and a chance to wonder where people were going as they zipped by.

A highlight of the trip was attending Hamilton at the beautiful Victoria Palace Theater. The best word that describes the performance for me: STUNNING, in every way!! The set, use of stage, costumes, actors, music. What a performance-wow, wow, wow!

Victoria Palace Theater, Hamilton performance

The day was complete with a meal at Its All Greek to Me. Yum!

DAY 13, Monday, April 18

I said so long to Kate, Alaina, and Mikayla and headed to the airport. Today I traveled from Gatwick airport in London to Dublin, Ireland. I took a Bolt ride (no Uber in England) to Blackfriar train station, three stops to Gatwick, flight to Dublin, and I stayed at one of the airport hotels to be close by for my flight home to Boston the next day.

It’s been an incredible journey-sooooooo grateful for every moment! Sooooo happy to be traveling again. Appreciate Nicholas, Kate, Mikayla, and Alaina! The world where I’ve been is definitely opening up once again. Of my 5 flights I only had to show any Covid documentation once. I’m sad knowing my journey is coming to an end but my memories will continue and I’m happy to be headed towards the states. Travel is special to me, from my first trip out of the US in 1973 with my sister Niki to Greece and Egypt, I knew it was something I’d want to continue. I’m soooo grateful for the many travel opportunities I’ve had and all the learning along the way.

%d bloggers like this: