Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Jean Phillips

April 11, 2017

MALI Teacher Leaders Series

This is the seventh blog post of the Phase 6 Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader stories. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work each Maine visual or performing arts teacher or artist is doing.  CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 81 Teacher Leaders plus 4 Teaching Artist Leaders.  CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. There have been 77 posted to date. Thank you Jean for sharing your story!

Jean Phillips has been a teacher at Wiscasset Middle High School for fifteen years. Originally hired to teach English, but, in 2008, when the drama coach and director left, she picked up the three drama classes. In 2010, when the person hired to direct the One Act Festival play suddenly quit, the opportunity to direct came along. The following year, Jean was “hired” to teach three drama classes: Acting Workshop, Children’s Theatre, and Tech Theatre Design and to direct the two yearly productions. She has been doing both “jobs” ever since. Presently, Jean also teaches the 8th Grade drama component of their Allied Arts program. Her  yearly responsibilities include two public performances – one in the fall and the One Acts Festival piece – creating, building, or procuring all the sets, costumes, and props, as well as the maintenance, storage, and upkeep of the lights and the stage. She usually teaches nine to twelve 8th graders per quarter and 10-15 students per year in the Acting Workshop class per year; 8-12 students per year in the Children’s Theatre class; and 20 – 30 students per year in the Tech Theatre Design class. Jean’s Acting Workshop class involves teaching the terminology specific to theatre, stage positions and body positions – creating characters through analysis and fulfilling the performance standard by producing a public performance piece. Children’s Theatre begins with each student reading a children’s book, creating a story board for the book, a group decision of which play be the best to produce, writing a script, practicing together, and putting on a public performance – sometimes with children in the audience. Tech Theatre Design involves the technical aspects of theatre – specifically the design and construction off a set, sometimes the design of costumes, if time permits lighting and makeup.

What do you like best about being a theater educator?

My most favorite part of being a theatre teacher is watching students become hooked on working on the stage – either behind the scenes or as actors. I love that many disenfranchised students have found a home in theatre and even if they don’t pursue it any further than high school, they will have gained skills that will carry them throughout life.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

The three essential things to a successful performing arts education is full support by administration, parents, and state; less interference by outside agencies; and fewer budgetary constraints.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

I am just beginning to utilize more formative assessment in the classroom. The public performance has always been the summative assessment, but I have found it important to the success of the summative assessment if more formative assessments are given.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

Before becoming involved in MALI, I taught my three classes and directed my plays. Now, I have never been as involved with professional development for the arts as I have this year. I have made more contacts and found advocates. I have also been able to engage more students in advocacy for the arts, too.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of two things: first, that I have been directly responsible for having students opt to become theatre arts majors in college; and two, that students who have not normally found a home in high school have found a safe haven on stage.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

For me there are two things that get in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as an educator: people who have no idea what happens on stage telling me how to do my job – the more constraints put on me by bureaucrats makes connecting with students harder because I’m spending more time with pointless paperwork than working directly with the students; and my own inhibitions. I am not a risk-taker and feel safer with the tried and true.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

My whole life has been about hard work and determination. I have major anxiety and live my life in stress. In spite of this, I have earned two BA’s and an MA – all because I do not believe in quitting. I broke my leg my third year of getting my MA and learned to drive with my left foot so I could continue going to class because I knew that if I took the rest of the semester off, I would never go back. I set my sights on a goal and just push forward since I’ve never been very lucky or relied on circumstances to get what I want.

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

Wow – I’d tell them there’s a fine line between keeping discipline and being a hard nose about following the rules. I’d tell them that there will be times when you won’t sleep because you’re worried, or you’re scared, or you’re frustrated, or you’re stuck – and all of those sleepless nights will be worth it when just one student comes back to thank you or remembers you fondly later in life. I’d say that no matter how much your budget gets cut just keep on keeping on. Arts education is important and students need this creative edge as well as a haven – be these things and more.

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

If I had $500,000 I would build a separate arts facility for Wiscasset Middle High School – one with adequate space and light for the visual arts, a clean, soundproof room for band and chorus, and a dedicated space for the construction of sets, the construction and storage of costumes, and a place for all performances. If this isn’t feasible due to budget constraints, I would overhaul the stage lighting, build a space for the construction and storage of sets, maybe get more tools, and have someone come in and design a much cleaner, more organized space for the lights.

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

Who doesn’t have regrets? I guess my biggest regret would be that I didn’t reach more students, especially since many of them shied away from my program because they were anxious about performing or because they were afraid of me because of what they had heard from other people. I hope to have worked on the latter before I’m 94.

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CIE Summer Institute

April 6, 2017

Thomas College professional development

Bring a team from your school to the Center for Innovation in Education Summer Institute at Thomas College, June 27-29. Great opportunity to collaborate on planning for your students!

Docudrama, song writing, invasive European green crabs, and an all hands-on deck problem solving challenge—what a combination! Only at the Center for Innovation in Education’s Summer Institute: Weaving a Tapestry of Learning this June will you get to explore the connections among these activities and create powerful metaphors for learning related to the role the Arts play in STEAM curriculum and instruction.

For more information CLICK HERE.

  • PreK-12 participants are encouraged to come in teams to work on projects specific to your school.
  • Grants are available to defray registration costs for up to 5 people on a team.
  • Format: Nationally known speakers, concurrent sessions by outstanding Maine educators, and team time with a coach to work on individual projects.
  • Interactive, reflective, & practical
  • CEUs available
  • Graduate credit available (must pay the Thomas graduate course fee)

Of special interest to Arts educators:

  • Brooke Haycock from the Education Trust uses a docudrama format to stimulate participants’ thinking: “…transform research into performance, exposing the stories behind the data and driving straight to the heart of debate around equity in schools.” https://edtrust.org/team/brooke-haycock/
  • Members of the EXPLO organization will lead us through a hands-on, interactive challenge that integrates the arts into the problem solving necessary to meet the challenge. https://www.explo.org/our-history/

Coaches include:

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MCL National Summit

April 1, 2017

July 16-18, 2017 – Portland

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Empowering the Customized Learning Community

July 16 – 18, Holiday Inn, Portland, Maine

Register Here
inevitable-too-207x300Please join us as educators from across the country meet to learn, share, and problem solve how they are transforming their learning communities to provide the “Ideal Learning Experience” for all learners.  Based on the vision described in “Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning: Learning in the Age of Empowerment” written by Chuck Schwahn and Bea McGarvey, educators in our National Alliance are identifying the school structures that need to change in order to customize the learning experience for all learners.

Our National Summit will highlight the work of learners, facilitators and leaders who have been designing and transforming their learning communities. We will engage and leverage the experiences of our summit participants in a variety of learning experiences that will help support all levels of implementation. Summit participants will expand their knowledge, strategies, processes, resources, tools and professional network.

Our 2+ days will include:

  • Sunday Evening Dinner & Opening Session
  • Messages from Chuck Schwahn & Bea McGarvey
  • “Voices of Learners” Empowerment Sessions presented by Young Learners
  • 30+ Empowerment & Vendor Sessions including “Make & Take Sessions”
  • General Session Facilitated Conversations
  • A “Reflection Cafe”
  • Monday Evening Lobster Bake

Registration Fees

inevitable-too-203x300Register here!

Early Bird Special: $350/person or $325/person for teams of 3 or more

After May 20th: $375/person or $350/person for teams of 3 or more

The registration fee includes dinner on Sunday night, continental breakfast, luncheon, and afternoon refreshments on Monday and Tuesday as well as a Lobster Bake on Monday evening. Schools and other education organizations are encouraged to bring teams and make their participation a collaborative experience.

Lodging

A limited number of rooms are being held at the Holiday Inn by the Bay (http://www.innbythebay.com/), until June 16, 2017

Call 1-800-345-5050 or 1-207-775-2311 and mention the MCL Summit to get the summit rate. Room rates are: $210 for single or double occupancy (standard room with 2 double beds), $159 for single or double occupancy (Standard King Size Bed), $179 for Executive edition room (King or Double/Double).  Maine has a hotel tax of 9%.

Parking

All overnight rooms will be subject to a nightly fee of $10 if parking in the hotel garage area. Those traveling in for the summit must park in the multi-level garage beside the hotel and will be charged a discounted $5 daily parking fee.

Lobster Bake

(For the first 300 registered) Our Lobster Bake includes a ferry ride around Casco Bay and to Peak’s Island. Choice of Lobster (1 1/4 lbs), Grilled Sirloin Steak, Grilled Chicken, or Vegetarian (Stuffed Shells), steamed clams, drawn butter, clam broth, corn on the cob, coleslaw, boiled potato, rolls, coffee, tea, and fresh Maine blueberry cake. The Vegetarian meal includes a fresh garden salad, corn on the cob, coleslaw, boiled potato, and roll. Bar service is not included in your registration but will be offered on the island. Departure from the ferry terminal will be at 5:30 and will return around  9 p.m. (Please arrive at the ferry terminal by 5 p.m.)

If you have a family member or friend who will join you at the Lobster Bake, you must purchase their ticket when you register for the summit.

Registration Contact: Linda Laughlin lindaflaughlin@gmail.com

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MAEA Spring Conference

March 30, 2017

Register for this professional development opportunity

The Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) is holding their spring conference

‘The Story of Us” on Saturday, April 8, 2017, Westbrook Middle School, 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM.

SCHEDULE

8:00am Check in/Art making

8:45am Welcome/Keynote –

10:30 FIRST Power Session  (Begin Double Sessions)

11:35 Lunch(provided)/Announcements/Elections

12:30 MID-DAY Power Session – Mini and Full Sessions

1:40pm FINAL Power Session   (2nd Half of Double Sessions)

3:15 USM Museum of Art visit (on your own)

Pre-conference Event – Friday, April 7th Westbrook MS

To register CLICK HERE.

SESSIONS (more info on the sessions/schedule CLICK HERE)

GT or NOT here I come! What I’ve learned during my first two years as a Gifted and Talented Consultant – Lisa Ingraham (Madison Elementary School, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader, Secretary for MAEA)

Chapter 104… Steering Committees… ID Processes… CogATs… SLPs… and the wonderfully weird and creative students who make all this work meaningful. During this workshop we will look at some of the basics every art teacher needs to know about Gifted and Talented programming, and explore some of the successes and pitfalls I’ve encountered during my first two years as a Gifted and Talented

Something From Nothing – or Costuming on a Budget and Tapping into the Creative Process with Students – Jean Phillips (English/Drama Educator, Wiscasset Middle School/High School, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader)

Hot glue, curtains, table cloths, children’s sleds, and ribbon – what do they all have in common? They can be ingeniously used to create authentic costumes for all plays. Armed with this knowledge, you can devise a lesson in the designing of costumes for the stage for your students. If time permits, participants can brainstorm possible resources and ways to include students.

Forum for Photography Teachers – Jodi Thomas (Thornton Academy, Saco and MAEA Board Member)

Join our group and share your resources in a Google folder. We meet once a year at the Spring Conference. This open discussion will focus on sharing teaching methods, lesson ideas, the merging of film and darkroom with the digital evolution, and the challenges and successes in the contemporary instruction of a unique fine art medium. Please bring a topic for discussion and one assignment handout to share (10 copies).

Student’s Reflective Voice: Using the Artist Statement – Melanie Crowe (Marshwood Middle School, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader)

In this workshop, participants will explore the ways in which student voice and understanding within visual art creation can be expanded upon with the use of reflective writing using an Artist Statement. Grades 7-12

Arts and Science Integration – Margaret Maxwell (Fine Arts Educator/Integrator, Bonny Eagle High School, Standish)

Teachers will learn the process of science integration into the curriculum using the resources in their buildings. The process of collaboration will be discussed and the proper avenues to pursue in order to facilitate a successful experience for the students. Hands on workshop using journal making as their container of ideas for the units. Weather, botany, anatomy and physiology, astronomy, chemistry and other units of sciences will be reviewed as possible integration topics. A brief discussion about the importance of integration with sciences as a motivator will be part of the workshop.

Note: There is a $5 materials fee for this workshop, payable to the presenter at the workshop.

Art All Around: Connecting Artists, Schools and Community through Collaborative Art Making in the Streets – Montserrat Torras/Craig Collins (Director, Maine Center for Creativity)

The summer of 2016, Maine Center for Creativity launched with Westbrook city stakeholders a community-driven outdoor art initiative called Art All Around to boost civic engagement, pride and connection in the community, highlight and develop creative skills, empower diverse groups and youth, and spark economic development.

With Art All Around in its second year, the facilitators behind the initiative will speak to the elements that have made the program a success and a model for other towns across Maine to leverage creativity and art making for more inclusive and culturally vibrant communities, economic vitality and quality of life.

Scholastics: Overview and Best Practices – Liam Sullivan (Maine Region Scholastics Coordinator, Maine College of Art)

The presentation offers best practices for participating in the Maine Region Scholastic Art Award Competition. It will include discussions about submitting individual work and portfolios, fee waivers, problem solving techniques and there will be plenty of time for questions and answers. Also included in the visual presentation are plenty of images of the recognized works; Gold Key, Silver Key and Honorable Mention.

Looking in the Mirror: The Importance of Self-Reflection for both Student and Teacher – Mandi Mitchell (Hermon High School, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader and MAEA Board Candidate)

Self-assessment is a crucial part in the cycle of learning for both student and teacher. With regular self-assessment integrated in your classroom, students will become more aware, dig deeper, and take ownership of their learning. This applies to us as teachers. We will also discuss the importance of documentation and strategies of reflection upon our own teaching. Information gathered about student growth, understanding, and feedback on units/lessons will not only be beneficial for the growth of a curriculum, but also in providing evidence for teacher evaluations.

Teachers working side x side: A book making project across content areas – Mia Bogyo and Sally Mitchell (Side X Side, Portland)

This presentation shares an innovative elementary art and science curriculum that merges teaching artists, research, and 1st grade classroom teachers through the medium of the handmade book. The first half of the session will outline how 1st grade students at Ocean Avenue Elementary School became experts on animals through bookmaking. By integrating research on animals with visual art, students were challenged in content knowledge and motivated to engage in art- making. This curriculum is a part of a larger arts integration program happening across Portland public schools. During the second half of the workshop we will explore simple bookmaking exercises using paste paper, illustration and collage. These strategies will help you jump start your visual arts integration in the general education curriculum.

The Performance Based Learning (PBL) Process in a Student Centered classroom – Amy Cousins (Gorham Middle School, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader)

This presentation is for teachers who would like to learn what the Proficiency Based Process looks like from criteria to creation to evaluation. We will focus on how to guide our students through PBL while still allowing for student choice and making a manageable system for tracking student progress. We will cover: * Aligning Graduating Standards with student friendly indicators. * Criteria that reflects the PI’s and student choice. * Common self-assessments that allow students: * several opportunities to achieve proficiency, * a choice in how to report out on their knowledge and * to demonstrates understanding of Graduating Standards/Performance Indicators. There will be time at the end for Q and A and group sharing.

Visual Art in Early Childhood – Beth Lambert (Arts Specialist, MDOE)

During the 2016-17 school year the Maine DOE has sponsored professional development with teams of art teachers and early childhood teachers to build collaborative partnerships to ensure that preschool students receive an art-filled learning experience. In this session you will hear from the teams about what they learned, their successes and challenges, and developmentally appropriate pedagogical approaches to teaching art to our youngest learners.

Clay Whistles – Mary Pennington (Gray-New Gloucester High School, MAEA Board Member)

Want to build a working clay whistle? This workshop will show you how. Will cover basic construction of whistle based on pinch pot method, troubleshooting making the whistle actually sound, and embellishments to make them unique.

Arts Integration – Theresa Cerceo (Dr Levesque Elementary School and Wisdom Middle/High School, Saint Agatha, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader)

Arts Integration teaches the whole child, increases student engagement and lowers the barriers between content areas. In this workshop will discuss what arts integration is, why it benefits students, Proficiency Based Education, assessment and the role of the art educator in the Arts Integration model.

Making Waves – A Conversation about Leadership – Heidi O’Donnell (Belfast High School and Past-President of MAEA)

Leadership is a journey with multiple paths. Attend a discussion about leadership – big and small – in your class, in your schools, in your community, in your state, and beyond. Come listen to and share ways you can make an impact.

Refine Your Tiles, Refine Your Curriculum – Holly Houston (Yarmouth High School and Director of Member Services, MAEA)

Join me in making this beginning-of- the-semester Ceramics I project that sets the tone for quality work in my classroom. We’ll look at project purpose, criteria, and assessment. Following glaze test tile-making, we’ll look at a carefully scaffolded Ceramics I curriculum that combines handbuilding, ceramic history, assessments, and technology use through student portfolios. Appropriate for educators of all grade levels.

Needle Felted Animal Sculptures – Debra Arter (Damariscotta Adult ED)

Each participant may make a bird or a four legged friend — sheep, cat or dog for example. I will bring foam & needles. I have small supply of narrow ribbon which may work for decoration as well. It is quite sculptural and forgiving. High school students would like to do it in classroom as well. The needles are sharp so if people bring a thimble it might provide some protection. Wire cutters and small pliers are also useful to bring to work on these projects. It is a great relaxing process.

Yes You Can! Acrylics in the Classroom – Debra Bickford (Westbrook High School, President of MAEA)

There are many valid reasons that some people are hesitant to use acrylics in the classroom. The top two reasons seem to be that they do not come out of brushes or clothes and, not knowing what all the mediums are for. This workshop will demystify “all that stuff” that goes along with acrylics, provide tips for using acrylics in the classroom and provide participants with a hands on experience with the materials.

Make a Nicho and Learn – Rachel Somerville (Art Director, Westbrook)

The implementation of culturally responsive curriculum in the art room facilitates connections between students lives, their learning, and the global world in which they live. In this hands-on workshop you will gain a greater understanding of how to integrate or enhance culturally responsive instruction into your curriculum, and where this work fits into a proficiency based model. In this workshop participants will create a ‘nicho’,or ‘retablo’, a mixed media sculpture and folk art tradition from both Central and South America. This project is appropriate for upper elementary through high school.

Friday, April 7, 4:00pm MAEA Awards and Recognition Event – Westbrook Middle School

HONOREES

Maine Art Educator of the Year – Debra Bickford

Secondary Art Educator of the Year – Mandi Mitchell

Elementary Art Educator of the Year – Laura Devin

Museum Art Educator of the Year – Anthony Shostak

Outstanding Service Through the Profession – Jody Dube

Distinguished Art Educator Award – Pat Higgins

Retired Art Educator of the Year – Frank Chin

Please feel free to join us in continuing the celebration after the event by joining us downtown Portland for First Friday (gallery and studio events)

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Charles Michaud

March 28, 2017

MALI Teacher Leaders Series

This is the fifth blog post of the Phase 6 Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader stories. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work each Maine visual or performing arts teacher or artist is doing.  CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 81 Teacher Leaders plus 4 Teaching Artist Leaders.  CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. There have been 75 posted to date. Thank you Charles for sharing your story!

Charles Michaud is the Pre-K – 12 music teacher at MSAD#33 in Frenchville and St. Agatha, MSAD#33 has a little less than 200 students and is located on the northern border of the state.  Charles teaches general music for grades Pre-K – 6, and offers band for students from grades 4 – 6.  This is his third year teaching at Wisdom Middle/High School and Dr. Levesque Elementary School.

What do you like best about being a music educator?

In my opinion, the best part of being a music educator are the moments when learners surprise themselves by playing or singing something impressive. They light up and gain a whole new confidence in themselves.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. Accessibility: Learners need opportunities to access the arts. While this seems like common sense from an outsider’s perspective, we all know the challenges of fitting in the schedule.
  2. Customization: A program that adapts to the abilities of the students requires customizing lessons and materials to meet the learning styles and speeds of the learners. I think that the best way to draw students into the arts is to make the arts theirs.
  3. Appropriateness: Every arts program exists within the context of the community. Make sure the goals of the program not only provides access to the broader arts world, but also has deep roots in the musical culture of the area. Many programs try to adapt the local culture to fit their music, but I think a successful program draws the community in by drawing the local musical culture into the program.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Assessment is a big cog in the learning machine. Assessment is communication about learning, and plays an essential role in my classroom.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

MALI has given me access to a community of arts educators on the cutting edge of their disciplines. Our collaborations and conversations have pushed me to innovate as an arts educator, which has been all to the benefit of my students.

What are you most proud of in your career?

The strength of community in my band is what has made me the most proud in my short career.  In the end, I find that what keeps students coming back year after year is that band is their home away from home.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

My biggest barrier to becoming a better teacher is a lack of time for developing all of the cool new lessons and methods that I would like to try. Imagine what a few solid weeks of straight lesson planning could do for a teacher!

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Increasing the numbers in the music program has been my challenge since year one. I have been very successful in this regard, but it could easily be attributed to the great students that we have in our district.

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

Work hard and be innovative, because proficiency based education can present some very unique opportunities for the arts.

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

If my program received 500k, I would create a position that bridges the gap from arts in school and arts in the community. This would connect my students with authentic learning experiences, and give them a model context for their role in the local arts scene.

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

I have a long road to travel before I hit 94, so I will almost inevitably regret something. For now, however, I am very content with the choices that I have made. Fingers crossed!

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Art Educator’s Show

March 22, 2017

Bangor Public Library

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Hilary Martin

March 21, 2017

MALI Teacher Leaders Series

This is the fourth blog post of the Phase 6 Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader stories. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work each Maine visual or performing arts teacher or artist is doing.  CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 81 Teacher Leaders plus 4 Teaching Artist Leaders.  CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. There have been 74 posted to date. Thank you Hillary for sharing your story!

Hilary Martin is currently working as a grades K-8 ed. tech. at the Vassalboro Community School in AOS 92. Before this year, beginning in 2013, she worked as the K-12 theatre teacher at the Vinalhaven School, where she taught K-5 drama, high school public speaking, and middle and high school electives in acting, directing, playwriting, and technical theatre and design. While at Vinalhaven Hilary also directed after-school productions.

What do you like best about being an arts educator?

Having the opportunity to help students be creators, and giving students who might not be highly successful in other classes a place where they can shine.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

Community support, investment from administrators and colleagues, and a passionate teacher.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Assessment allows me to get a sense of what students have and haven’t mastered, so I know what curriculum areas to spend extra time on, and it allows me to give students useful, constructive feedback on their work.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative?

Being an arts educator can often feel very isolated–a lot of time you’re the only one in the building in your subject area, and being a theatre teacher even more so, as there aren’t that many of us in the state! Being involved with MALI has been a wonderful opportunity to network and share resources with other theatre teachers.

What are you most proud of in your career?

While at Vinalhaven, I began taking students to the Maine Drama Festival. Our first year attending we placed second at the regional competition, and the program has been successful enough to continue under the new Vinalhaven theatre teacher. I’m very proud of how I was able to expand the already very strong theatre program at Vinalhaven!

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

Time, or the lack of it! With all of the responsibilities teachers have there is very little time for professional development, collaborating with colleagues, or even individual curriculum planning–all things that are crucial to being an effective educator.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to luck” or circumstances?

While on Vinalhaven, I had the opportunity to become a literacy interventionist, in addition to my work as the theatre teacher. This gave me a great opportunity to improve my skills as a teacher and get to know my students in a new way. While to some extent that opportunity was a result of being in the right place at the right time, it was also a result of my own hard work and commitment to continuing my education and training.

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

Know your limits, and don’t be afraid to say no to additional commitments. Arts educators tend to love what we do a great deal, and as a result it can be easy to overextend ourselves–I know I’ve found myself in positions where I took on more than I could reasonably handle! Remember to leave yourself space for rest and recovery.

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

I would create a program to expand the number of in or after school theatre programs for elementary students. For many students, their first opportunity to participate in theatre comes in middle or high school, but elementary students can benefit just as much from being involved in theatre.

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

It’s hard to say, but I hope that by the time I reach 94 I’ll have the perspective to look back on all the moments of my life as valuable learning experiences!

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