Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Americans Who Tell the Truth

April 18, 2023

Resources, resources, resources

In the fall of 2022 over 100 Maine educators attended the conference Teaching Truth, Hope, and Creativity: How the Arts Can Deepen Any Curriculum, held at Thomas College. Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) took the lead with many organizations and individuals supporting the conference. It was one of those days that was ‘over the top’ filled with learning, collaboration, and inspiration.

The conference day was very meaningful and continues to plant ideas. As a follow up the AWTT Education Director Connie Carter along with artist Rob Shetterly have gathered resources for the conference participants and the entire education community. I invite you to check out the resources below for use this spring in your classrooms/schools or perhaps in the future. The AWTT website is amazing and if nothing else, I do hope that you’ll visit the website. I am certain you will be inspired!!

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email Connie Carter at

Americans Who Tell the Truth Lessons

  • What are the characteristics of a Truth Teller?

Americans Who Tell The Truth Truth Teller Lesson Plan

  • What is a Turning Point?

What is a turning point? – Americans Who Tell The Truth

Latest Speaking Truth To Youth Video

Most recent AWTT Portraits and their Biographies

Celebrate National Poetry Month

Celebrate Earth Day

Readings for Thought

  • Blog from Artist and AWTT Founder Robert Shetterly

To Stand Up a Stone

  • Blog from AWTT Education Director Connie Carter

Thoughts After the Symphony

Music to Inspire You and Your Students

  • From Truth Teller Reggie Harris

It’s Who We Are v1 5 

  • New AWTT portrait subject John Alston conducts his Chester Children’s Chorus

The Chester Children’s Chorus-I Still Can’t Breathe 2016  

Checkout this newsletter from a new organization Starts With US (Starts With Us)

Start With US Newsletter Link

Coming in Fall 2023

An AWTT professional development event sponsored by UMaine’s College of Education and Human Development

Robert Shetterly

Thankful for you!

November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving

Today, on Thanksgiving, I pause to THANK YOU for your contributions to education. Your positive impact is amazing! I know that it takes constant creativity, courage, resilience, persistence, experience, planning, a sense of humor, and so much more to make a difference in the lives of learners.


I was reminded over and over this month of how grateful I am to be engaged in education at this point in my life. It seems like the roles of teachers and schools are continually shifting; expanding to meet the many needs of children AND our society and at the same time being challenged by outside forces.

I am grateful

I am grateful to have helped in the planning of the conference that over 100 educators attended on a beautiful Saturday: Truth, Hope, and Creativity: How the Arts Can Deepen Any Curriculum at Thomas College. How fortunate we were to be together in person with other educators learning and exchanging ideas. We stretched our thinking around the importance of teaching Truth. The presenters answered questions and created many more, the learning continues beyond the day.

I am grateful to have visited a high school to learn about their Book Arts program taking place, not in the art room, but in social studies, science, and language arts classes. Sadly, it was a just a week after the active shooter hoax locked down 10 Maine schools. It was a horribly scary situation and sadly for some it didn’t last for only that one day. The students have been working on amazing books that demonstrate their learning of The Depression and The New Deal. (Watch for a future blog post with the details.)

I am grateful to be substituting and spending time with learners of all ages. So enjoyable to see students learning and laughing. Each one has a story and many are anxious to share.

I am grateful to live in a region of the state where theatre programs are thriving. There is no greater joy than to see students on stage. They bring their very best and many times surprise themselves by what they are capable of. Acting for an audience provides opportunities that sitting in a classroom can not. The pride, OH MY, the pride!

I am grateful to be on a committee planning the Sestercentennial (250 years) celebration for my community. Looking Back to Look Ahead will give people of all ages the chance to come together to celebrate our town while recognizing those who have come before us.


I know that I stand on the shoulders of giants and wouldn’t be who I am today without them. I invite you to think about who has influenced you and taught you. Whether those people are alive or passed away perhaps you’ll take the time to thank them on this Thanksgiving Day. I appreciate you your commitment to education and to show my appreciation I’m sending you flowers!


Teaching Truth, Hope, and Creativity: How the Arts Can Deepen Curriculum

September 18, 2022

Learning Opportunity for Maine Teachers

Maine Educator Professional Development Opportunity

Thomas College, Waterville

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


You’re invited to join us to explore ways to use the arts to connect curriculum silos and make challenging content accessible. This will be a unique opportunity to learn with and from Maine artists and educators. Robert Shetterly, a Maine artist and activist, will inspire us as he unveils his portrait of Representative Rachel Talbot Ross. Educators will have the opportunity to engage with a panel of Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) portrait subjects as they discuss the issues that inspire their life’s courageous work, activism, and imagination. Teachers who have used the curriculum lessons from AWTT in their classes, or are familiar with other ways to integrate social justice into curriculum, will offer interactive workshops. In addition, there will be time to share ideas and build your network with Maine educators.

For those who have not seen the documentary Truth Tellers or wish to see it a second time, the documentary film chronicling the lives of courageous Americans fighting for racial equity, climate justice and indigenous rights through the eyes of Robert Shetterly, a long time activist and artist, will be shown on Sat.,Nov. 5, at 8 a.m, before the official start of the conference. All of those registered for the conference will also receive a link to view the film the night before the conference if they choose. Those who register for the conference by October 18 will receive a free copy of either Portraits of Racial Justice or Portraits of Earth Justice at the event, the latest books from Americans Who Tell the Truth. 


For any questions, email


Music Teacher Extraordinaire Retiring

July 12, 2022

Congratulations, Mrs. Cash Cobb and thank you!

Nancy Cash Cobb retires this month with many years of teaching and with so many memories. Nancy started her career in Sacopee Valley School District where she taught General Music, grades 1 through 7, Band, grades 5 through 7 and, Chorus at the high school level. She moved to RSU14, Windham Raymond Schools, and for the last 41 years has taught K-3 General Music in Windham. As she completed her last school year she took some time and answered questions about her career teaching music.

Tell us about your formal education.

  • Bachelors & Masters Degrees from USM + 30 credits
  • 3 levels of Orff Training, University of Illinois

What has been your favorite part of teaching?

I like kidding around and having fun with the students!  I act like an idiot and they pay me for it!!!  What could be better?

One moment in teaching that has been unforgettable.

Every time the students make me come to tears because they are singing like angels!!!!!!!!!!!

What do you think are three keys to ANY successful music ed program?

1. Make sure the students are enjoying music!

2. Make sure the students are enjoying music!!

3.  Make sure the students are enjoying music!!!

What are you most proud of in your career?

My students smile when they see me!!!

Who has influenced your work as a teacher or perhaps inspired you?

My Deering High School Choral Director, Alex Cote.

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

Smile and be nice!!!!

How much of what you do is learned skills and how much is innate?

I always wanted to be a General Music Teacher. That is the key!

What does retirement look like for you?

I will let you know.

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

I would give it all away…  not in one place

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


We’re all wishing you a retirement filled with happiness and good health! Happy Retirement Nancy!


Pride Month

June 18, 2022

All invited to celebrate

Throughout the world this month people of all ages are celebrating Pride Month. It’s all about people coming together to celebrate who they focusing on the freedom to be who they are. June was selected as Pride month to recognize the Stonewall uprising that took place in New York City, June 1969. Protests and riots went on for three days following a police raid of a gay bar at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan where the gay community and police clashed.

This event marked the beginning of the modern day gay rights movement. One year later the first Pride parade took place in New York’s Central Park and others followed in cities across the country. It was called Christopher Street Liberation Day because the Stonewall Inn is located on Christopher Street. In 2016 the area around the Stonewall Inn was designated a national monument.

In 1978, artist and designer Gilbert Baker was commissioned by San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the US, to make a flag for the Pride celebrations that year. Baker recognized the stripes of the American flag and was inspired by the rainbow to reflect the many groups within the gay community. Since 1978 other flags have been created to represent other sexualities.

Pride events welcome allies from outside the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) community. All are welcome to show their support and it gives them an opportunity to learn.

This month I am reminded of this statement made to Agnes de Mille, by Martha Graham in 1943:

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you.


Congratulations Sue Barre

March 17, 2022

National Federation of State High School Associations Awardee                 

In 1989 the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSH) established The Outstanding Music Educator Awards. Waterville High School music educator Susan Barre is an awardee!


Many of us know Sue’s tireless work for music education from her school district in Waterville, Maine to the state level and now at the national level. Sue teaches music to students in grades 5-12. I first met Sue when she became a Teacher Leader during Phase 3 of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI). She was a strong leader as MAAI transitioned to the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) and its latest iteration of the Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership (MAEPL). Sue is a quiet and effective leader who is there when needed and is willing to take on a responsibility and give it her full attention. She can be trusted to not only to complete the task but, always at the highest level. She is a steady voice for all her students and the music education in her district continuously shines under her guidance. I’ve had the honor of working with Sue on many projects and watch her grow as a teacher, leader, and human being. We co-presented in Providence at the NAfME Eastern Division Conference in 2015 and again in 2017 in Atlantic City. This is certainly a well deserved award and I invite you to join me in CONGRATULATING SUE!


In addition to earning numerous awards and honors, Susan Barre has transformed Maine’s Waterville school music program to one of the state’s most respected, celebrating music and students of all abilities and interests.

After beginning her education career in 1989 and teaching music at various schools in Maine, Barre joined Waterville Public Schools in 2008 as band director for grades 5-12. In 2014, Barre was named department chair for Visual and Performing Arts at Waterville Senior High School and coordinator of music for grades K-12. During her tenure, Waterville students have consistently been recognized with Outstanding Music Awards.

In 2013, Waterville Ensembles were recognized with the “Spirit of DC” award recognizing responsible and respectful behavior. At the 2018 NYC Heritage Music Festival, the Waterville Music Department won the Sweepstakes Award for outstanding music department, and the concert and jazz band earned Gold Awards.

Barre has worked to revise the music curriculum, seeking consistency in music terms and practices, and coordinated the development and implementation of a portfolio for music students. The portfolio has become a blueprint for many other music programs in the state.

Locally, the Waterville music program has become an integral part of the arts community, recognized for its efficient hosting of local festivals each year. Waterville students regularly perform in the community and are active in the arts programs at nearby Colby College.

At the state level, Barre is a [past] president of the Maine Music Educators, which helped implement a paid executive director position for the organization and moved the state’s jazz programs from a competitive format to a festival format, where ensembles perform for a rating and not against each other. Barre is also president of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Eastern Division and served on the executive committee overseeing the planning and implementation of the 2021 Eastern Division Virtual Festival and Conference.

Sue Barre and Argy Nestor co-presenting, NAfME Eastern Division Conference, Atlantic City, 2017. Session: Leading a Way to Proficiency Through the Arts


April 19, 2021


Reach out and ask a question, collect the comments and post them in the teachers room and if you want to be really brave post them in the hallway. Your students will know that you care about each other and them.

What am I talking about? Well, this is it, Spring vacation for Maine students and teachers is this week. Hopefully it’s a chance to rest and work on filling your cup. We know if our cups are not full it’s difficult to help support others and be our best in the classroom. Everyone knows it’s been a tough year, some admit that their energy has been zapped and yet others are able to see the silver linings.

So, what can we do to help support our colleagues and our school community for the rest of the school year? And still take care of ourselves? Here’s one suggestion – reach out to your colleagues and ask them to name one positive thing about the school year. Perhaps it is a silver lining, an unintentional consequence or something that someone said or did that surprises the heck out of you. Write the comments on paper hearts and hang them in the teachers room or hallway or each day read one during morning announcements or put them on the school kiosk or put it on the schools website or social media page. It is sure to lift spirits and simply let people know how much they are cared for and it will send a clear message to your students.

Comments I’ve heard that fit

At the Maine Art Ed Association virtual spring conference a couple of weeks ago Rangeley Lakes Regional School Art Teacher Sonja Johnson said: “The Art classroom is a place of awakening this year”.  This puts a different twist on the year and when I think about it the comment is filled with truth!

Last week I received an email from Edward Little Music Teacher Bill Buzza that included: “Today was the first day of bringing our two hybrid cohorts back into our building for 5 days a week. The energy was exciting and refreshing as the students got to interact with each other again – kind of like the first day of school of a new year.  And they were so thrilled to be hearing the sound of the full band again!” 

The way I see it the pandemic continues to offer us gifts! Not seeing them, try looking in a different direction like up into the trees to the sky and clouds. Take a moment to consider the gifts. What are yours? Please share at the bottom of this blog post or email me at Thanks!

Cedar Island, Liberty, Maine


Maine Farmland Trust

March 8, 2021

Opportunity for children

Young artists age 18 and under are invited to submit farm-inspired artwork for an upcoming virtual gallery exhibit.

The Maine Farmland Trust welcomes submissions for a children’s art exhibit to be held virtually this spring through the MFT Gallery. Looking for children’s artistic creations that address or are inspired by any of the following questions:

  • Do you have any farm or farm stands near you?
  • What do they look like, and what do they produce?
  • What animals do you like on the farm?
  • What is your favorite food from the farm?
  • What do you like, or what would you like, to do on a visit to the farm? 

Learn and submit artwork HERE. DEADLINE: MARCH 28, 2021

Possible subject or media matter ideas: Vegetables; animals on the farm; fiber (sheep, llamas or alpacas, rabbits); barns or other farm buildings; fields, crops, gardens; helpers on the farm; tractors or other equipment and tools.

Submission guidelines:

The artwork can be any media, 2D or 3D. We are accepting up to 5 submissions per artist. Since the show will be virtual, all submissions should be high quality photos of the original artwork.

Tips for taking a high quality photo with your camera or phone: use a high resolution setting on your device; hold the device steady or use a tripod or brace so the image is clear, not blurry; place the work (one at a time for multiple submissions) in good, even, natural lighting; make sure the edges of the image are square to the edges of the work so there is no distortion; crop the image to clear any distracting background; save as a .jpg file.

Please send an email, subject Farms for ME, with up to 5 high resolution jpg images attached, labeled with Artist First Name_Age_Title of the work_medium_dimensions_price.

In the email please include parent’s full name, email address, and phone number, name of the artist, age, medium, title of the work, dimensions of the work, and price if the work is for sale (or NFS if not).

If you have questions please contact Karen at


On Hiatus

January 4, 2021

The Maine Arts Education Blog is on hiatus!


Happpppy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2020

I know this Thanksgiving will be like no others. If you’ll be with family and/or friends that aren’t in your ‘bubble’ please be sure and practice safe distancing, wear a mask and if you’re inside try and leave some windows open. No matter what I hope the sun shines on you and that you can consider what you are grateful for, even in this challenging world-wide pandemic! I hope you take a moment and write down or make art that reflects what your gratefulness!

I’m grateful for the health care workers who are putting their lives on the line each and everyday to do the right thing.

I’m grateful for our elected officials who are making the most difficult decisions determining what to put in place to keep us all safe.

I’m so very grateful for my family and friends who continue to reach out to each other to lift spirits with a kind word and helpful hand.

Most importantly, I’m grateful for the educators who are teaching during this most difficult and challenging time. I know that you’re working around the clock doing the right thing for each learner and the best that you can for your community! Thank you for making a difference in so many students’ lives and in so many communities. 

Thanksgiving is different this year and my appreciation goes deeper than ever for all of the teachers across this globe going above and beyond and remembering that WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING IS ENOUGH AND WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER! Be sure and reach out with stories to share and asking for assistance!

My warmest wishes for a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Chelsea Beck for NPR
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