Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category


Summer MALI Institute Day 3

August 13, 2016

What a learning opportunity!

IMG_3191The 6th Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) summer institute wrapped up yesterday with the 3rd and final day jam packed full.

Incredible educators contributing their knowledge and developing ideas with the MALI community and on top of that good food!


Art teachers Iva Damon, Amy Cousins (top). Mandi Mitchell, Lisa Ingraham (bottom).

The day started with participants looking at the preliminary reports from the statewide arts education census. MALI teacher leaders and teaching artist leaders had conversations by region to discuss the findings and what action steps might take place to utilize the data collected. Everyone agreed that it is great to have data on Maine arts education. The information will be made available with a full report in the next 2 months.


Samantha Armstrong presenting her Maine Arts Education Resource Project – Integration.

Beth Lambert and a team of Maine educators have created resources this past school year as part of the  Maine Arts Education Resource Project – Integration. The teachers provided an overview of the work and resources they created. Access those resources by CLICKING HERE.

Participants completed their individual action or logic model plans and during the afternoon participated in a gallery walk. A clear picture of their ideas were evident and it was great to have the opportunity to provide feedback to each other. Next steps? Teacher leaders will tweak their plan based on the feedback and create a formal presentation. In September teacher leaders will participate in Critical Friend where they will provide their presentation. Others are invited to participate so if you are interested please email me at and let me know.

IMG_3255Each presentation will be provided during the school year at least once at the local level and once at the mega-regional level. More information on these learning opportunities will be provided in the future. Please let me know if you have any questions.


IMG_3248To the TEACHER LEADERS who devoted their time to attend the institute and dig into the work. To the TEACHING ARTISTS who attended for one day and the four TEACHING ARTIST LEADERS who are creating new work for MALI. All agreed that the Teaching Artist Leaders are a great addition to the community. And, a HUGE THANK YOU to the LEADERSHIP TEAM who spent hours and hours of time planning and facilitating the summer institute so all of us could learn.

Participants left USM tired and excited about returning to their classrooms for great school year! If you’d like to learn more about MALI please go to or to



Summer MALI Institute Day 2

August 12, 2016

Teacher Leader Mandi Mitchell and why she teaches!

Developing ideas and learning from each other

The second day of the initiative was filled with more ideas, questions, and thoughtful research on many topics including proficiency based, student centered, standards, assessment, teacher effectiveness, arts integration, advocacy, and leadership. Each teacher leader and teaching artist leader worked on their plans they will continue develop and put into place during the 2016-17 school year.

Teachers worked in their content groups – theatre, music, and visual arts. Participants did an amazing job of creating and refining an ‘elevator speech’ on one of MALIs ‘This We Believe’ statements. In the end they passionately stated their message in 7 seconds. Teachers created brief statements completing “I teacher because…”.

Veteran MALI teacher leaders Amy Cousins, Jake Sturtevant, and Theresa Cerceo shared stories in their roles as teacher leaders.

Practicing elevator speeches

Practicing elevator speeches

Beth Lambert, Maine Department of Education Visual and Performing Arts Specialist, provided an udpate on the work going on at the Department at the state and federal level.

Everyone’s work generated throughout the day was thoughtful and exciting and will contribute to the high quality teaching that goes on throughout Maine!

The summer institute is in its final day today with an agenda filled with learning opportunities. During the afternoon will be filled with a gallery walk viewing and providing feedback on the teacher leader plans.


Jake Sturtevant, Theresa Cerceo, and Amy Cousins sharing their MALI stories

Jake Sturtevant, Theresa Cerceo, and Amy Cousins sharing their MALI stories



Summer MALI Institute – Day 1

August 11, 2016

Arts Teachers and Teaching Artists come together

IMG_3160Yesterday was the first day of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Summer Institute. Over 50 educators including PK-12 arts teachers and teaching artists participated in the professional development opportunity. Theater artist Jeri Pitcher started the institute with warm up and ice breaker techniques, Maine Arts Commission Executive Director welcomed participants, and Jeff Beaudry provided an overview on assessment.

IMG_3123Quickly following participants jumped into the their respective strands. The topic for the new MALI teacher leaders and teaching artists (including teaching artists leaders) was proficiency and assessment literacy while returning teacher leaders reflected and shared on their past years work.

The three days are designed to meet the particular needs of the groups so what proceeded was the chance to go deeper on these topics with creativity at the heart of the teaching artists conversation. Maine Arts Commission Senior Grants Manager Kathy Shaw provided information on the funding available from the Commission. The other two groups began work considering a topic to research that will impact their teaching and student learning.

IMG_3146Participants shared lunch with their like content areas before an afternoon of advocacy, messaging, and conversations about what the benefits of teaching artists in PK-12 schools. Ideas and lists were generated, questions asked and answered.

In between the group work participants have been asked to write a statement on why they teach and to reflect on their day to day work as leaders. The MALI summer institute continues for two more days. Participants will continue their work around the topics in arts education that are most important to them and their students.

To learn more about MALI CLICK HERE.


ECET2 Conference

August 9, 2016

Today and tomorrow at Colby

Kate and Sophie

Starting off the Elevating & Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers! ECET2ME conference at Colby College was Sophie Towle, a 2016 Marshwood High School graduate. Sophie is a singer songwriter from South Berwick and a former student of music educator Kate Smith who taught her at Central School in South Berwick. Her third CD of original songs “An Ocean Away” will be released later this month. Sophie gives guitar lessons, plays tennis and likes to hike. She will attend Wesleyan University in Connecticut this fall and will pursue her interests in government and graphic design. If you are interested check out

The day was filled with positive energy and only got better as it progressed. Starting off the morning was the 2015 national teacher of the year Shanna Peeples from Texas who provided inspirational words. Shanna encouraged educators to tell their stories – “stories shape how people see us.”

Theresa presenting her SLAM! session

Theresa presenting her SLAM! session

Kate and Theresa Cerceo, both members of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI), attended the conference representing MALI. Theresa provided a workshop on SLAM! Student Leaders in the Arts Movement. She created SLAM! one year ago as an outcome of attending the Teach to Lead summit in Washington, D.C. It is a student leadership group who advocates for arts education. Workshop participants were very impressed with the work SLAM! and Theresa have underway. In addition there many other workshops including Creating a Positive Adult Culture, Tweeting to Lead, National Board Certification, Advocating for the Profession, Leading from the Classroom, Leading the Way to Gradeless Classrooms, Differentiating with Students and Adults, and much more

Kate 'talking' Teacher Leadership

Kate ‘talking’ Teacher Leadership

Kate and I were videotaped by a team visiting from the US Department of Education. The subject was ‘teacher leadership’. Watching and listening while Kate was ‘attached to her microphone and under the lights’ my heart swelled with pride as I was reminded of who we are in Maine and the work our arts educators are doing in their role as leaders.

The day was jam packed with opportunities to learn and network with the other 150 educators including 3 other music and 2 visual arts. The funniest part of the day was an evening with the improv group called Teachers’ Lounge Mafia. Four out of the five members are teachers in western Maine; I laughed so much my face hurt. If you ever have the chance to see them or are needing a group for any occasion check them out on facebook. Soooooo funny!

Congratulations to the ECET2 planning committee – a big shout out to the 2015 and 15 Maine Teachers of the Year, Karen MacDonald and Jennifer Dorman for their leadership in providing an outstanding learning opportunity for Maine educators!

Teachers' Room Mafia

Teachers’ Room Mafia




Calling all Maine Teaching Artists

August 5, 2016

Still time to register

The Maine Arts Commission still has space in the one-day August 10 learning opportunity. See below and register by CLICKING HERE.

MALI_V3_Color_100ppiThe Maine Arts Commission’s Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) will offer a one-day summer professional development intensive specifically geared toward Maine teaching artists, and/or those artists who would like to expand their work to PK-12 teaching, on Wednesday, August 10, from 8 to 4 p.m. at the University of Southern Maine. The intensive is part of MALI’s summer institute for PK-12 arts teachers that continues August 11-12.  The day-long session will focus in depth on the role of the teaching artist in the K-12 classroom, and the relationship between the K-12 arts educator and the teaching artist, and will include structured networking with more than 50 PK-12 Visual and Performing Arts teachers from throughout Maine.

“We recognize the great learning value of Maine’s incredible population of artists,” said Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education for the Maine Arts Commission, “and have as a goal the establishment of more high quality K-12 artist-in-residence programs.”

The day’s workshops are designed specifically for the needs of Teaching Artists, and will include separate sessions on topics including how to get funding to support residencies; best practices for Teaching Artists; Maine Learning standards; assessment skills and tools; advocacy; and more. Perhaps most importantly, the day will include ongoing opportunities for teaching artists to connect with and engage collaboratively with PK-12 visual and performing arts teachers from Maine schools—often the first step toward establishing a residency.
The MALI institute offers an exciting, teacher–driven environment for teaching artists who are interested in professional development with peers.

Teaching Artist Tim Christensen works with a student at Camden-Rockport Middle School

Teaching Artist Tim Christensen works with a student at Camden-Rockport Middle School

Teaching Artist and dancer John Morris and PK-12 music educator Kate Smith, both members of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative team, are leading the planning for the day. “We think this year’s summer institute provides not only timely professional development and a chance to make important connections with arts educators in the schools, but also a real opportunity to contribute the voices of Teaching Artists to improving K-12 arts education for all students in Maine,” said Morris.

The Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, established in 2011, is committed to the development of teacher leaders and teaching artists to ensure deep understanding and meaningful implementation of high quality teaching, learning, and assessment in the arts.

Registration includes morning coffee/tea, a delicious lunch, and afternoon snacks. To register and review full workshop offerings, please go to

To learn more about MALI, the Maine Arts Commission teaching artist program and roster, and other PK-12 arts education programs go to or contact Argy Nestor at or 207-287-2713.

The Maine Arts Commission shall encourage and stimulate public interest and participation in the cultural heritage and cultural programs of our state; shall expand the state’s cultural resources; and shall encourage and assist freedom of artistic expression for the well-being of the arts, to meet the needs and aspirations of persons in all parts of the state. Additional information is available at


Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts

July 30, 2016

Art teachers soaking it in


Teaching Artist Malley Weber

I had the privilege of visiting the Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts earlier this week and it was such a treat. A dozen art teachers creating individually and at the same time collaboratively – sharing their knowledge and soaking up the wisdom of each other. In my undergraduate program I had a ceramics focus so the smell of the clay environment, the feel of the clay in my hands, coupled with the buzz of teachers, enlightened all my senses. And right before my eyes was the center of Watershed’s philosophy, a belief that the unexpected sparks creativity and that new people, ideas and spaces nurture the evolution of artistic practice.

How fortunate for the art educators (mostly from Maine) to take the opportunity to nourish their minds and their souls. The teachers had their own studio space where they were continuing to develop their skills and ideas. It was great to see and speak to the teachers about their work. Visiting also was Beth Lambert, Maine Department of Education Visual and Performing Arts Specialist. Participating in the week were Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leaders Jeff Orth and Gloria Hewett. And this years recipient of the Monhegan Artists’ Residency and colleague of mine from MSAD #40, Krisanne Baker.

Jeff Orth, Beth Lambert, and Gloria Hewett

Jeff Orth, Beth Lambert, and Gloria Hewett

While visiting, Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist member Malley Weber shared her present research project – creating ceramic water filters. Malley was intrigued by the idea and has been communicating with and learning from Potters for Peace.

Potters for Peace has provided information has helped in her research.  Since 1998, representatives of Potters for Peace have traveled the world assisting with the establishment of small factories or workshops that produce a low-cost ceramic water filter that can bring clean, potable water to those who need it most. They don’t actually make, store or distribute ceramic water filters or operate filter production facilities. They assist local partners to set up their own filter production and distribution facilities. Much of their work has been in Central America with woman potters.

Malley is experimenting with Watershed clay to find the right recipe to create the filters for the local water supply. The lesson is designed for students to:

  • understand the global issues around water and the importance of clean water for everyone,
  • to experiment with filtering bacteria from water by making their own ceramic water filters,
  • to create a well designed and functional receptacle and lid using elements of art and principles of design that will hold the filter, store and deliver water to a glass by either pouring spout or spigot, and
  • to observe and draw conclusions based on their experiment.

DSC_0447What an incredible idea that is all about the connections between art and science! Malley’s lesson was filled with the language of both disciplines.

One of the founders of Watershed is my dear friend George Mason. It has been a while since I visited the Newcastle facility that was established in 1986. Such a treat! You can read their story at Be sure and check out the opportunities they provide under the watchful eye and commitment of Executive Director Fran Rudoff. Classes are invited during parts of the year and there are community events that are always wonderful!

Thanks to Fran for inviting me to visit and to Malley for sharing her experience!


In Today’s News

July 25, 2016

MAC offers Teaching Artist opportunity

Read about it by CLICKING HERE.


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