Archive for the ‘Opportunity’ Category

h1

Nominate a Deserving Colleague

February 7, 2023

Opportunities to recognize a music educator

Maine Music Educators Association Awards

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

Outstanding New Music Educator Award

Hall of Fame Award

Educator of the Year

Outstanding Administrator Award

Educator Appreciation Award

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

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

Applications are here: Longevity And Retiree Recognitions

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

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

h1

Seeing Mercer, Maine

January 24, 2023

Poem for thought

Wesley McNair served as Maine’s Poet Laureate, 2011-15, during which he had two initiatives. He successfully brought poetry to all regions of Maine and made it accessible to people from all walks of life. Mr. McNair has been writing poetry for 40 plus years, authored 20 books, had a poem included in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, and has received several awards, recognition, and support for his writing. Mr. McNair has a slow and steady voice that draws the listener with hopes of not missing a word. His slight of humor and gentle smile is engaging.

I was fortunate while at the Maine Arts Commission to work with Mr. McNair in the Poetry Out Loud program. High school students who participated in Poetry Out Loud had the opportunity to spend time with him, engage in conversation and be inspired by his readings. I was inspired alongside them and now I listen to a poem being read each morning. Poem-a-Day is a program of the Academy of American Poets and makes it easy and fun to access poetry. The poems that I connect with are stashed away for future reading.

I read one of Mr. McNair’s latest poems (below) recently and knew that I wanted to share it with you, the readers of my blog. Mr. McNair lives in Mercer, Maine, population 640.

Wesley McNair

Seeing Mercer, Maine

By Wes McNair

Beyond the meadow
on Route 2, the semis
go right by,
hauling their long
echoes into the trees.
They want nothing to do
with this road buckling downhill
toward the Grange and Shaw
Library, Open 1-5 P.M. SAT,
and you may wonder
why I’ve brought you here,
too. It’s not SAT,
and apart from summer, the big
event in town’s the bog
water staggering down the falls.
Would it matter if I told you
people live here – the old
man from the coast who built
the lobster shack
in a hayfield;
the couple with the sign
that says Cosmetics
and Landfill; the woman
so shy about her enlarged leg
she hangs her clothes
outdoors at night? Walk down this road
awhile. What you see here in daytime –
a kind of darkness that comes
from too much light –
you’ll need to adjust
your eyes for. The outsized
hominess of that TV dish,
for instance, leaning
against its cupboard
of clapboard. The rightness
of the lobsterman’s shack –
do you find it, tilted
there on the sidehill,
the whitecaps of daisies
just cresting beside it
in the light wind?

h1

GRACE

January 17, 2023

Offers hope

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting a wonderful community visual art program that was established in 2019. It was well underway when the pandemic disrupted life as we knew it. It stumbled along during the pandemic gathering outside at the town gazebo and today it is thriving. The program is called GRACE and takes place in Brown Hall Community Center in Bucksport, Maine. The GRACE program provides free creative arts opportunities to seniors and other underserved populations. Participants are invited to explore and experiment through using a variety of materials to create art. No previous experience is necessary.

Several years ago Catherine Ring worked with the GRACE program in Hardwick, Vermont where she was living and working at the time. The philosophy: “Be yourself and do it your own way” connects very well with arts educators, artists and others in the creative world. The open studio idea has become a space for participants to meet, experiment and play with materials. They meet to make art and to connect socially. I was excited to learn more about the program that Catherine’s leadership brought to Bucksport. Periodically Catherine or other participants ‘teach’ a technique, offer guidance and facilitate depending on the wishes of the group. They share their ideas and art work, and provide feedback to each other.

Charlotte Bridges working on her linoleum prints

The GRACE program started as part of Lighthouse Arts & Education which was located in Bucksport at the time. Funding was provided through a grant from the Maine Community Foundation. Since then it has morphed into its own non-profit. Participants are not only nourishing their own creative needs but connecting with community. GRACE has exhibit space within Brown Hall Community Center and in 2021 worked with the Buck Memorial Library in town to create a collaborative mural for their newly renovated space.

The space where they meet is inviting and filled with books, resources and art supplies to encourage and support participants ideas and creative processes. I really enjoyed seeing the art on display and left very inspired. If you’re interested in learning more please contact Catherine Ring at THIS LINK.

The GRACE program offers so much and all are invited to participate. Board member and artist Charlotte Bridges who goes by Cha, started making art at age 55 said it best: “I love that they understand what we needed. I want to be guided and have a chance to play and experiment. I can’t stand to have people tell me how to do every step. We all get so much from each other.” Another participant, Linda Wagner said: We all benefit from each other. The feeling of being lifted up.

Zentangles made by GRACE participants

h1

Maine Teacher of the Year

January 10, 2023

Nominate a deserving teacher

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

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

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

h1

Samantha Smith Challenge

December 20, 2022

Opportunity for middle and high school

The Samantha Smith Challenge 2022-2023 (SSC) is now available on the Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) website (www.americanswhotellthetruth.org). As always, AWTT offers this challenge as an opportunity for middle and high school students to use the creative arts to build a bridge between the classroom and the world as they seek truth, share hope, examine and act upon issues critical to the common good.

In the words of a former SSC participant,

“Hope is power, power is hope. The Samantha Smith Challenge helped me feel powerful and hopeful.” 

We believe that engaged and passionate students learn more. As AWTT looks at the past year and the months ahead, we recognize more than ever the importance of seeking truth and sharing a message of hope, just as Samantha Smith did forty years ago.

This year SSC students will begin by examining what it means to be a Truth Teller, identify important community and world issues, understand them, and make a compelling argument in an effective and creative medium to move people to work for the common good. This year’s SSC is about the importance of truth and sharing ways to be hopeful about the future.

AWTT portrait subjects seek truth and find creative responses to challenges. Their courage and engagement give us hope.  Check out Mary Bonauto, Steven Donziger, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, Kelsey Juliana, Bill McKibben, Stephen Ritz, and Dawn Wooten to see how a quest for truth grounded in hope fuels work for the common good. 

As in past years, the directions for participating in the SSC are on the AWTT website. (www.americanswhotellthetruth.org/programs/education/samantha-smith-challenge/

Rob Shetterly, artist and AWTT founder

If you have questions, please contact Education Director Connie Carter at connieamericanswhotellthetruth.org. You may sign up between December 1 and February 1. This year’s SSC is expanding beyond Maine. As AWTT navigates that expansion they hope to connect schools across real and perceived boundaries to share their work for the common good. AWTT founder and artist Robert Shetterly and Connie will also be available to support students on their creative journeys of truth seeking. 

The SSC Celebration will be on Wednesday, May 24, 2023 — a time to celebrate and share the creative journeys for truth and messages of hope from all participating students. Please contact Connie at connie@americanswhotellthetruth.org if you have questions or concerns. AWTT looks forward to working with you and your students on this year’s SSC. 

h1

November Gifts

November 12, 2022

Theatre – alive and well in Maine high schools

One of the best parts about November is that high schools across Maine provide opportunities for students to perform in theatre productions. The added benefits to our state are many! People of all ages can engage in stories, some old and classic, and some newer. The community including parents, children, seniors, retired folks and anyone who lives in the town where the school is located, as well as surrounding towns, have a chance to watch, listen and learn as teens take to the stage. There aren’t many opportunities during a school year for citizens to enter our school buildings. These performances can serve as advocacy for not only theatre programs but dance, music, and visual art since all of the arts are often utilized through the theatre production.

The skills and experiences gained through participation in theatre productions are not learned elsewhere!

CONGRATULATIONS…

…to all the high schoolers taking part in plays. I know that to give your best performance you have practiced for many days and weeks which amount to many hours while still keeping up with attending classes and doing homework. You’ve worked individually and with your peers practicing lines, your position on stage with how and where and when to move. You have collaborated with teachers, actors, light and sound students, costume and make up people. Your success relies on the commitment and cooperation of a huge number of people.

THANK YOU…

…to all the educators who give opening of their time after the normal school day to support the many students who participate in the theatre program. I know we have some Maine schools with theatre teachers who provide classes during the day that contribute to the production but most are doing this work after school. Your patience, kindness, and influence inspiring theatre students is amazing.

SUPPORT…

We know that it takes many people beyond the actors and teachers who help support the production in many different ways. Thank you to all of you lovers of the theatre and students who participate. I encourage everyone reading this blog post to attend a play going on at your local high school. Nothing like a full house to feel appreciated when performing!

The following are a few of the plays that are taking place in the next couple of weeks. If you are aware of others please email me at meartsed@gmail.com and I’d be glad to add them to this blog post. Thanks!

Thornton Academy, Saco presents The Odyssey. MORE INFORMATION!

Camden Hills Regional High School presents Mamma Mia! MORE INFORMATION!

Medomak Valley High School, Waldoboro presents Hello Dolly! MORE INFORMATION!

Waterville Senior High School presents Momma Mia! LEARN MORE!

Belfast High School present Grease. MORE INFORMATION!

Orono High School presents Mamma Mia! MORE INFORMATION!

Mount Desert Island High School presents Oliver! MORE INFORMATION!

Break a leg!

h1

Conference Lift-off

November 4, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

REGISTRATION

h1

Upcoming Conference

October 13, 2022

Register by October 18 and receive complimentary book

REGISTRATION

We know this is planned on a Saturday. (Intentionally so you don’t have to stress about the availability of a substitute). We know you might be tired, (teaching is tiresome along with invigorating). BUT, the planners of this conference want you to have this experience that will inspire you (we all need inspiration periodically) — maybe for this year or even next year. 

Join colleagues from across the state (some that are so ready to connect with you). Come and experience the courage, the passion, and the energy Americans Who Tell The Truth (AWTT) portrait subjects (the portraits will come alive) and teachers (who have actually used the portraits in their classrooms) will share.

Use it, store it, ponder it — but most of all have an amazing experience — even on a Saturday! Teaching Truth, Hope, and Creativity: How the Arts Can Deepen Curriculum. You will received a complimentary copy of Portraits of Racial Justice or Portraits of Earth Justice, if you register by October 18! The frosting on the cake: 6 contact hours are included.

Maine Educator Professional Development Opportunity 

Thomas College, Waterville 

Saturday, Nov. 5, 8:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

REGISTRATION

In addition, you will have access to the film Truth Tellers (no cost) for 24 hours. If you’ve never seen the film or wish to see it again, this is a chance. Meet Maine artist Rob Shetterly who has created over 250 portraits. He will be unveiling his latest painting at the conference and the subject will be on a panel. The film has been created by Maine Film Maker, Kane Lewis Productions. Richard Kane will also be at the conference.

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. 

%d bloggers like this: