Archive for the ‘VPA’ Category

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Lights, Camera, Action

January 16, 2020

Nokomis Regional High School

Parent energy and initiative often bring teaching artists to schools to conduct workshops that supplement and support school arts programs. When invitations to those workshops extend to the community as well an interesting community/school arts link is created. And when the number of workshops reaches a grand scale and the invitation outreach is statewide, something truly newsworthy is going on.

Such a statewide program has been in place for the past three years at Nokomis Regional High School in Newport, where Gretchen Gehrke, a Nokomis parent, who was inspired by a program at MIT and by the good work of Nokomis theater teacher Lisa Neal, initiated “Nokomis – Lights, Camera, Action!” (LCA) in partnership with the school’s theater program.

Below is the history and description of  “Nokomis Light’s Camera Action!” in Gretchen’s words, as well as Gretchen’s invitation to artists and students, and all those who want to be part of LCA in its fourth year, to join them in Newport on Tuesday, February 18th. Read on!   (There is a scheduled snow day makeup on Thursday 2/20 if necessary.)

Nokomis Lights Camera Action Grades K-12, 2020

Nokomis High School is located in rural Maine. Nearly 70% of RSU #19 students qualify for free lunch and yet our school system offers so much to our students.

 

Lisa Neal is the drama teacher for the high school. She is an exemplary and gifted teacher. She also runs a very successful drama club and show chorus. She is an inclusive leader. Her program changes lives. Here is a recent quote from an email I received from the parent of a now graduated student. “Lisa is an entity all unto herself… We were blessed with so many really good/great teachers for our daughter but Lisa takes that above and beyond. I saw how she changed lives for our young people. Literally! I do not know how she does it all.  She is a teacher, a mentor, a confidant, sub parent for many and a friend and it doesn’t stop at school or graduation. I see them coming back to her again and again. Our daughter’s class was her first in High School…. And that group of young people have gone on far beyond what they probably would have had it not been for her guidance along the way. Her classes are so much more than just the subject matter. Amazing!”

So, how in a rural and poor location do we support a teacher and program such as that directed by Mrs. Neal?

A recent Nokomis Drama Club production of Bye Bye Birdie involved nearly 25% of the Nokomis student body. Lisa does this with little or no budget. As I am, by nature, a facilitator, I saw a possible opportunity to help Lisa provide continued learning adventures for Nokomis students, as well as additional youth from Maine. Our children have been very fortunate to participate in the MIT Splash Program and in Young Americans. Based on those models the Nokomis Drama Club has begun offering a one-day Splash-like program, “Nokomis – Lights, Camera, Action!” (LCA), focused on dramatic arts during February break. We charge $25 per K-3 student and $50 for students grades 4-12. This fee includes a T-shirt costume and two meals. We allow for ample financial aid. We ask instructors from near and far away to donate an hour or two of their time and expertise to offer workshop classes like MIT Splash focused on the arts. There are classes during the day preparing songs for an evening performance such as Young Americans do in their program. The goal of this learning adventure and fund-raising effort is a combination of daytime drama workshop followed by an evening performance. We offer more than 50 workshops which support Artists, Actors, Authors, Chefs, and Athletes. One need not be interested in drama to enjoy a great learning adventure. As our local taxpayers, parents and school districts are struggling to such extent, it is critical for our program to seek support resources from outside our own RSU.

As with Splash at MIT, classes can reflect instructor’s passions. We offer a small free parent workshop as they do at MIT/Splash. We also offer art, knitting and yoga classes to parents.

We seek students and instructors from across the State of Maine and beyond. We hope that schools and communities support our novel program. Join us! Please do not exactly copy us rather share our day.

Join us, Tuesday, February 18th, 7:30am-8:00pm (K-3 until 12:30pm) at Nokomis Regional High School, located in Newport, Maine for the 4th Annual, Lights, Camera & Action program. This year we host the event at a brand-new Nokomis High/Middle School, 291 Williams Road, Newport, Maine (just across the road from the old school.)

Actors, Artists, Authors, Athletes, Chefs and Musicians, share a full day of workshops, rehearsals, and performance.

Students K-12 are welcomed and taught by qualified and enthusiastic instructors on a wide variety of fun topics. 2019 included over 50 workshop choices.

Following workshops, Grades K-3 concludes with a noontime performance and Grades 4-12 concludes with a 6:30pm performance “Final Act” which demonstrates some of the day’s accomplishments.

Learn More and Register @ www.nokomislightscameraction.com or Facebook Lights, Camera, Action.

What people have said:

“Thank you very much. We cannot believe that a program of this caliber exists in Central, Maine.”  – Parent from Brownfield, Maine

“It was such a full day with so many choices. My daughter can’t wait until next year.” – Parent from Pittsfield, Maine

“I learn skills that can help me with my everyday life with building things and every day communication working as a team.” – Maine Central Institute Student

Lisa Neal, drama teacher at Nokomis Regional High School, said the topics help to make learning. “They’re here having fun but what they really don’t know is that they are here learning. They are problem solving and they are thinking on their feet,” said Neal.

Nokomis Lights, Camera, Action involves participants from across the state of Maine as well as Massachusetts into New Brunswick, Canada. LCA welcome students from school district across Maine and New England.

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Director of Arts Education

January 14, 2020

Maine Arts Commission

The Maine Arts Commission is delighted to welcome Martha Piscuskas as our new Director of Arts Education. Martha brings 30 years of nonprofit organizational leadership alongside a deep understanding of the state’s issues. Most recently she was Executive Director at Waterfall Arts, the community arts center in Belfast that she co-founded in 2000. She has extensive experience in community arts education, developing programming for all ages and in collaboration with local schools. One of five siblings, all artists, with parents in secondary education, Martha grew up immersed in active creative inquiry. In addition to serving on her local school board, she has led and founded numerous Maine organizations including MaineShare, Maine Center on Economic Policy, and Maine Initiatives. Martha has presented nationally and served on multiple boards, including as the Chair of the Waldo County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, and the Chair of the New England Board of Haymarket People’s Fund. A member of the Zeta class of Leadership Maine, she holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Wesleyan University, and a BFA from the Maine College of Art. A longtime resident of Waldo County, Martha lives on a homesteading solar-run farm with her family.

Martha’s contact information: 287.2750  martha.piscuskas@maine.gov.

 

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In Today’s News

December 8, 2019

Oscar the Grouch

LOS ANGELES — Caroll Spinney, who gave Big Bird his warmth and Oscar the Grouch his growl for nearly 50 years on “Sesame Street,” died Sunday at the age of 85 at his home in Connecticut, according to the Sesame Workshop.

Spinney voiced and operated the two major Muppets from their inception in 1969, when he was 36, and performed them almost exclusively into his 80s on the PBS kids’ television show that later moved to HBO.

“Before I came to ‘Sesame Street,’ I didn’t feel like what I was doing was very important,” Spinney said when he announced his retirement in 2018. “Big Bird helped me find my purpose.”

Read the entire article at THIS LINK

 

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Early Childhood Conference

December 6, 2019

Young Audiences

2020 National Conference – Young Audiences Arts for Learning. March 25-27, Nopsi Hotel, New Orleans – Arts from the Start: An Exploration of Early Childhood Learning. This year’s conference will explore timely issues around the theme of early childhood learning.

Call for Workshop Proposals
Deadline: January 15, 2020

Save the Date!

March 25-27, 2020

 NOPSI Hotel
317 Baronne St., New Orleans, LA 70112

Proposals are now being accepted for workshop sessions that address the conference theme, or relate to other priority topics as detailed in the 2020 Conference Workshop Session RFP Guidelines and Application document.

To Submit a Proposal, please download, review, and fill out the 2020 RFP Guidelines and Application document. Email the completed application form to Lauren Altschuler (lauren@ya.org) by 5:00 pm ET on January 15, 2020. Incomplete applications will not be considered. You will receive email confirmation upon receipt of your proposal.

Evaluation and Selection of workshop proposals will be completed by a Conference Advisory Committee. Lead Workshop Session Presenters will be notified via email of the final selection by February 3, 2020.

Questions? Please contact Lauren Altschuler at lauren@ya.org or 212.860.1563 ext. 107.

Stay tuned for the Official 2020 Conference Site, conference.youngaudiences.org, for the latest information, including how to book accommodations through YA’s room block at  NOPSI Hotel, where workshop sessions will be held.

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Integrating the Arts

November 14, 2019

MindShift

Edutopia is a great resource that I’ve noted in the past on several occasions. The online resources that they make available to anyone interested are ‘spot on’ for the needs of today’s educators. They have repeatedly shared information on student-centered learning. Edutopia doesn’t disappoint.

MindShift, another outstanding resource, recently included in a communication, a video that was created by Edutopia called How the Arts Can Be Integrated into Every Subject. Even though this video is 10 years old it will provide you a window into what arts integration could look like.

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Lifelong Learning

November 13, 2019

Professional Development

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leaders at the music education conference in September 2019 with Denise Gagne. Front, LtoR Catherine Newell, Dorie Tripp, Back LtoR Kate Smith, Linda McVety, Pamela Kinsey, Denise, Will Stecher

Often educators get so caught up in the day to day challenges of teaching that they forget to take time to reflect on what is actually happening. Taking time for professional development, getting off your island, and seeking colleagues for collaborations is critical to feed your soul and positively impact the art of teaching!

TEACHERS NEED TEACHERS! Reaching out and connecting with someone can make all the difference for you personally and professionally. I believe if you don’t take care of yourself (personally AND professionally) it becomes more difficult to take care of your students.

Now that we’re about 6 weeks into the school year, take a minute and ponder these questions:

  1. How often have you searched for professional development opportunities that really challenged your thinking about teaching? There are opportunities if you search – some in state, some regional and national and there are opportunities on the international level.
  2. When was the last time you asked a colleague to give you feedback on a lesson or unit? It doesn’t matter if you’re new to teaching or if you’re a veteran, asking someone you trust to step into your classroom and give you feedback can provide a totally different perspective to your teaching. I know this is may be difficult for a variety of reasons but if you want to be successful and look back on many years of teaching with a smile please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone that you trust and respect. If you have no other teachers of the same discipline in your school or district, reach out to someone in a nearby district, the professional organization leadership or perhaps a college/university. (By the way, I’d be glad to help out).
  3. Have you ever seen yourself teach? Set up a video camera in your classroom so you can view it later on? Perhaps having someone visit is to much of a stretch at the moment. No problem, borrow a video camera, if you don’t have one, set it up on a tripod and take some footage of yourself that you can view later on in the comfort of your own home.
  4. What research or book on education have you read lately? Who are you following on social media? There are so many outstanding books and writers on education topics. If you need a recommendation on where to get started check out the blog post from June 2019 called Summer Reading. for suggestions. Or go to a professional organizations website and read what they’re suggesting. There are also amazing resources on the web including blogs, podcasts, and audio recordings of information that you can visit over and over. Follow someone on Twitter, Instagram or one of the other social media tools available.
  5. Do you have a curriculum that you’re actively using? Many educators are required to write a curriculum and it gets put on a shelf and not revisited until it’s time to write a new one. Is that you? I’m not suggesting for a moment that you use your curriculum for every lesson/unit but what I do suggest is asking yourself this – can you map your daily lessons to a curriculum? Is it aligned with standards? Do you have assessments in place that support what you’re teaching or your students learning? Can you answer these two questions – What am I teaching? and Why am I teaching it? If you can’t answer, I suggest that you take time and ask yourself: what do I want my students to know at the end of the school year or perhaps in 5 years or when they are adults? Good teaching and learning should drive your work!
  6. What are you doing to take care of yourself? Are you mindful of your mind, body, and spirit? This is probably the most important one and it is the one that has taken me years to integrate into my daily living practices. We are fortunate to teach the arts because many of us went into teaching for two reasons – one is we want to teach and the other is we want to be an artist. So, what is your discipline and what are you doing to focus on that personally? I have made a practice of painting every day I can for a few minutes. If there is time that few minutes turns into an hour. I get lost in my art making. When I have more time I am making mosaics. Talk about getting lost in art making. I have no idea how the day disappears. If you’re a parent I realize taking time to make art on top of being a teacher and a parent there is no time left for art making or you. Please know it took me many years of parenting and teaching to get to this point. My suggestion? Start small – 5 minutes of meditation, yoga, writing and/or reading poetry, playing an instrument, moving in a mindful way or whatever way works for you. PLEASE take care of yourself!

it’s all about being a life-long learning! What are you doing to expand and build on your thinking? And, what you doing to take care of yourself? Please share your ideas at the bottom of this blog post.

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Global Community

November 12, 2019

Education around the world

We all know that the world has become a smaller place and that we’re all connected in some way. Education and educators are no exception.

I had the opportunity to attend the HundrED Innovation Summit and participate in Education Week in Helsinki, Finland, November 5-8. Lindsay Pinchbeck from Sweetland School in Hope and I are Ambassadors for HundrED and we continue to share the amazing work of HundrED.

During the summit we met educators, young people and teachers from around the world who are doing amazing work, projects that exemplify HundrED – To help every child flourish in life, no matter what happens. Watch the video of the wrap-up of the summit.

Some of the Innovations from HundrED are below. You can learn about more at THIS LINK.

In addition to teacher Innovators and Ambassadors there are now Student Ambassadors. The program is all about sharing ideas. If you go to the page you can search in a variety of ways. I invite that you take some time to explore and learn from others AND consider applying to be an innovator for next years HundrED collection.

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