Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

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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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Playwrights Festival

March 18, 2017

Maine Educational Theatre Association

Please make a plan to join us on Saturday, June 3rd, for the Maine Educational Theatre Association’s seventh annual Maine Young Playwrights’ Festival, to be held at Portland Stage Company in Portland!

MYPF celebrates Maine’s high school writers and offers an opportunity for students to see and hear their plays on stage, in front of an audience, and with feedback from professional writers to help them improve their work. This year’s Maine Young Playwrights Festival will be held from 10:00am to 4:30pm on June 3rd and includes both theater workshops and performances of student work.

We’d like to see as many student scripts showcased in one day as we can! The format is open for student work at any level of development!  Plays will be performed in workshop settings and on the Portland Stage Mainstage.  Performances may range from seated readings of scenes to staged readings to fully produced plays, and from 5 minutes to 40 minutes.

The cost for this full day event is only ​$10.00 per participant.  Adults and members of Thespian Society troupes are ​$5.00.  You may choose to join us for lunch for $6.00 per person, or bring your own food for your group.

We’re open for submissions of student-written scripts for the festival right now!

*  Submit a student script by Friday, April 14, by completing the Script Submission Form (see link below) and emailing the script daniel.g.burson@gmail.com.​

Maine Young Playwrights Festival Script Submission form

*  We will respond by Monday, April 24, to let you know how your play will be scheduled into the festival. You and your students can then prepare a presentation of the play at whatever level works for your schedule and participants (from a simple reading to full production).

*  Once your student script has been scheduled, you’ll then need to register participants by Monday, May 15 (We’ll send you a link to the forms after you submit a script. They’re really quick and easy)

Please contact Maine EdTA board members Dan Burson daniel.g.burson@gmail.com, or Rick Osann rosann@bonnyeagle.org, with any questions about this year’s Young Playwrights Festival.

We hope you and your students can take part in this celebration of Maine’s high school playwrights this June 3rd!

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Pam Chernesky

March 14, 2017

MALI Teacher Leaders Series

This is the third 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 Pam for sharing your story!

Pam Chernesky teaches theatre and visual art at Houlton Middle/High School. She has taught art and theatre in Maine for the past 29 both downstate (Gov. Baxter School for the Deaf and Bonny Eagle High School) and, has been teaching art in the County for the past 3 years. Her high school courses include Art 1, Art 2, Advanced Art, Ceramics, Photography, and Theatre. She also teaches art and theatre with 6th, 7th and 8th graders in the Middle School. In total Pam teaches about 400 students with 3/4 of her time in visual arts and 1/4 teaching theatre.

What do you like best about being an arts educator?

 I love seeing students connect with each other and discover their own creative voice. In my district students have not had any elementary art or theatre so I see them transform into artists. Teaching students to take risks, believe in their ideas, and work collaboratively energizes me on a daily basis.

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

Opportunity to learn, passionate teachers who love sharing their craft, and resources and support from the administration and the community. If these happen consistently then success is at hand.

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

Many of my students have their first ever art or theatre class in middle or high school and truly believe they can’t create, have no ideas, or are afraid that they will get it “wrong”. Quality assessment provides clear expectations for both the students and me.   They see their progress toward meeting standards and realize that they CAN achieve and create.

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

I definitely cherish meeting and working with so many wonderful arts teachers from across the state who are like-minded and willing to think outside the box. The trainings and leadership opportunities that have been afforded to me since joining MALI are impacting my practice and leadership in so many ways.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am proud of the accomplishments of my students. This includes the state and nationally recognized performers and artists, as well as the students who just take my classes to earn a graduation credit and instead learned so much more. I know that when you learn to create, you will be less likely to destroy. When you put yourself out there and take a creative risk, you will be less likely to criticize different ideas. When you connect with others and see diverse ways to express ideas, you will not see your world in such a black and white, right and wrong view. The arts impact every human being who participate in profound and long-lasting ways, and I am proud of my part in facilitating those changes in my students.

Visual Art and Theatre teacher Pam Chernesky and Dance and Phys. Ed. teacher MaryEllen Schaper (Bonny Eagle Middle School)

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

In schools, time is always a huge factor, coupled with the strange concept that the arts are not a “core” subject and therefore don’t really matter in the same way as other subjects. The resistance to change at a systemic level is most frustrating. I think that if schools let all the arts teachers reinvent the way a school day would operate, I could be a better teacher and my students would see connections and be better learners and future citizens.

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

I have worked hard to expand offerings for students both during school and in extra-curricular areas. Students participate in the MLTI Screensaver Challenge, the Scholastic Art Awards, art shows outside of school and the MPA One-Act Festival. I am on the boards of our community arts center and the local children’s theatre. Most people have no idea of the hours of work and coordination it takes to build relationships, provide opportunities, and share those successes with the community.

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

Never underestimate your power as a teacher to change a student’s life and make a difference. Your students are learning more than vocabulary or skills, they are learning to think, empathize, connect and become better human beings, and we teach all those things through the arts.

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

I would travel with my family and experience arts and cultures around the world. I could probably even get a ticket to Hamilton in New York! I would also save money for my daughter’s college expenses as she pursues her love of music. I would use the rest of the money to provide more opportunities for my students. Field trips to museums and performances are out of reach for many rural schools who live great distances away from those venues. It would be a thrill to be able to afford to take them to see the works of art that they have only seen in books or on the internet, or to see live performances.

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

I hope not. I struggle with balancing my family life with my arts life, and it is wonderful when they intersect. I am lucky to have the loving support of my family but I don’t underestimate the time we have together. Hopefully at 94 I can look back with fond memories of it all! I know I love what I am doing right now.

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Created Equal

March 6, 2017

Theater production – UMA

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Maine Drama Festival

March 5, 2017

March 11-12

Regionals: Friday and Saturday, March 10th and 11th
State Finals: Friday and Saturday, March 24th and 25th

Photo by Marti Stone

In the upcoming weeks, over 2000 students from 75 high schools will be preparing for the 86th annual Maine Drama Festival.

March 10th and 11th, at nine regional competitions across the State, schools will present plays ranging from the classics to original student-written plays. Schools compete in two classes: Class A (over 525 students) and Class B (less than 525 students).

At each of the regional competitions, a panel of three judges will decide which performances advance to the State Finals (March 24th and 25th). The Class A finals will be held at Falmouth High School and Class B will be held at Yarmouth High School. The outstanding performance at each State Final will be nominated by the judges to participate in the New England Drama Festival (April 20th, 21st, and 22nd in Norwood, MA)

state drama 16

Photo by Marti Stone

The performance schedules for each of the regional sites will be available on the Maine Drama Council Facebook page www.facebook.com/medramafest/

Please feel free to contact me for further information. A list of Regional winners should be posted on the MDC Facebook page on Sunday, March 12th. If you have questions please contact Maine Drama Council Coordinator Tom Heath at thomas.heath@fivetowns.net.

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Jason Bannister

February 28, 2017

MALI Teacher Leader Series

mali_v1_color_100ppiThis is the first 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 72 posted to date. Thank you Jason for sharing your story!

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-10-11-23-pmJason Bannister presently teaches Theater to grade  7 and 8 students at the Troy Howard Middle School, RSU 71, Belfast. He has taught for 14 years, all in Belfast – 5 years at 4th grade, 3 years middle school ELA, 6 years middle school theater. Jason teaches 250 kids each year, one trimester of performing arts (theater primarily) each year for two years. He also directs the drama club productions and created the Maine Student Acting Competition.

 

What do you like best about being a theater educator?

I have the opportunity to teach something I love to kids, to expose them to theater. The best thing is seeing a student develop an interest in theater from taking the class, and maybe joining the next production onstage.

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

There needs to be support from your staff and administration. You shouldn’t have to sell the importance of theater arts education to them. There needs to be a proper space to rehearse, perform and store costumes, sets and props. And the class needs to be required, but with the understanding that not everyone is ‘into it’ – so you need to find interesting ways to teach kids about theater where they aren’t worried they’ll have to get up in front of the class.

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

I have used many different forms of formative and summative assessment in my performing arts classes. Some are helpful, but sometimes the process is more valuable than the product.

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

I was given a chance to focus on a particular unit of study I was creating for my classes. I bounced ideas off other theater teachers. I don’t get this chance very often as the only theater teacher in RSU 71.

What are you most proud of in your career?

When I see a former student go on to college and major in theater. Especially when I remember them being shy or not into theater before taking my class or being in a play/musical I directed.

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

I see some teachers using old units over and over. I am always re-inventing units or coming up with new projects. I try to keep what works well and get rid of what doesn’t. When I started my performing arts class years ago lots of kids didn’t like it. This year most kids love it. If I didn’t make changes to what and how I teach I wouldn’t be effective.

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

I guess being a performing arts teacher in a middle school where the class is mandatory for kids to take. I worked hard to get this class created. There just aren’t lots of programs in Maine like what I’ve created. I am honored to have my job, but it’s been (and continues to be) a long road.

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

Fight the mindset some people have about theater arts education – it IS NOT an extra fluff type of subject. You can’t just say ‘oh, well the kids have drama club after school’ – that isn’t the same. Theater arts education is so important in so many ways to so many different kids. Don’t settle – work your hardest to get an equal footing with the ‘core subjects’.

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

That’s simple – I would put it towards building a proper theater to perform in. Enough of these cafetoriums. It’s ridiculous that there isn’t a dedicated performance space in my school district.

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

I have regrets everyday – how I could have taught that better, worked harder to connect with a student, not said something that hurt someone’s feelings. I guess I hope when I’m that old I won’t regret the time I’ve spent teaching theater and the time I’ve missed with my own children.

THE MAINE ARTS LEADERSHIP INITIATIVE

 Committed to the development of Teacher Leaders to ensure deep understanding and meaningful implementation of high quality teaching, learning and assessment in the Arts for all students.

If you are interested in becoming a teacher leader please email Argy Nestor at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

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Another Kind of Blue

February 22, 2017

Britain’s got talent

Dance? Media arts? Theatre? Amazing….

 

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