Archive for the ‘YAHOO’ Category

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Saying Thank You

March 26, 2020

Message from a Teacher

I am going to start capitalizing the word “Teacher” every time I write or type it. Why? Because I am so impressed by what I see happening because of teachers all over the world. PreK – grade 12 Teachers hopped into this crisis quickly, no hesitation, and are making things happen for learners.

Grades K-8 Music Teacher Kaitlin Young from Sedomocha Elementary and Middle Schools in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine is the 2018 Maine State Teacher of the Year and has been recognized for her accomplishments. I am so proud of Kaitlin and the work she does day to day and what she has done for Teachers everywhere. Her messages are clear and ‘spot on’. Recently Kaitlin wrote on her facebook page a message thanking the many unsung heroes in her school district and beyond who are going above and beyond to support children in multiple ways. With her permission I am re-printing her message since I am sure it is something many of us in education are thinking. Thank you Kaitlin for your leadership and commitment to education!

As we begin this new adventure in remote learning here at SeDoMoCha I wanted to post a photo to stand in solidarity with and express my gratitude for all of the incredible teachers within the SeDoMoCha community, across the state of Maine, and beyond.

And when I say “teachers” I mean all of the incredible people who are modeling what it means to be a member of a thoughtful and caring school community. These people are teaching some of the most profound life lessons to everyone around them throughout this challenging time.

Teachers: Administrators, Technology Integrators, School Resource Officers, Nurses, School Counselors, Maintenance Staff, Data Clerks, and Administrative Assistants who have developed and implemented thoughtful response plans all while calmly answering millions of questions from colleagues and the public. They have been putting in a great deal of work and time in behind the scenes. They are making tough decisions and modeling what it means to dig into the challenging work on behalf of our students and our communities.

Teachers: Bus drivers, Food Service Workers, Education Support Staff, Teachers, Families, and Community Members who have swiftly jumped into action to support our students. The outpouring of offers to help connect students and families to the resources they need has been humbling. “What do you need?” “How can I help?” “What if we try this?” And within moments of struggle when people share their frustration (perhaps in not the most kind of ways) I have heard words of empathy, “they must be really hurting or scared because this is challenging.” There has never been a moment when we have doubted the commitment to our kids. They are the faces that greet our families and help them to stay connected to our community. They are flexible, resilient, and empathetic to the needs of others and model what it means to be on the front lines.

And of course our students, our greatest teachers of all. Amidst the chaos, they continue to make us smile as they wave from the backseat of a car during packet pick up, send funny emails full of memes, or simply do or say something silly at home that was communicated through a parent email. As teachers, all of us who work with our students each day, we know that there are many lessons to learn from our resilient, creative, and compassionate students. They are the reason we do this in the first place.

Everyone is stepping out of their comfort zones to face this uncertainty with grace, kindness, and the need for human connection. (Though stay at least six feet away from each other, please!) We are willing to learn with and from each other as is evident from the plethora of resources that have popped up over the last two weeks. We are willing to make mistakes within our own new learning and continue to provide the best instruction we can. The creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration that happen every day in education have been on display throughout this adventure.

I can only speak about SeDoMoCha from the first-hand experience, but from what I have seen and heard from colleagues we are not unique in these efforts.

Over the last week, we have checked in on each other, laughed, cried, and experienced this challenge as a community. Please continue to take care of yourself. Please check in with your colleagues, students, neighbors, friends, and families. Remind yourself and others that we are doing the best we can as we all seek to find a new sense of “normal.” (Though as someone said to me yesterday, “Were we ever really normal?”)

I am proud and grateful to be a member of the SeDoMoCha Community and the broader community of teachers. Stay safe and keep singing

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Poetry Out Loud

March 22, 2020

Before the virus 

The Poetry Out Loud (POL) Maine State Finals he state finals took place at the Waterville Opera House on March 2. The following ten high school students proudly took their places after excelling at the classroom, school and regional level. If you click on their names you can hear parts of an interview and the student reciting.

Northern Maine Regional Champions

Southern Maine Regional Champions

Ella Shaffer, grade 10, Rangeley Lakes Regional School photo by Kate Philbrick, Sun Journal

At the time the students, their families and schools understood that one student would be selected to represent Maine at the POL National Finals. Each student was prepared to recite three poems. At the end of round two five state finalists were selected to recite their third poem from which one is the runner-up and one is the state champ. Grade 10 student from Rangeley Lakes Regional School Ella Shaffer was named the 2020 State Champ and Maine’s representative to travel to Washington, D.C. at the end of April. Ella did an amazing job reciting  “Sestina: Like” by A.E. Stallings, “I Eat Breakfast to Begin the Day” by Zubair Ahmed, “No, I wasn’t meant to love and be loved” by Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib.

Traditionally a school bus from Rangeley travels to the POL state finals with a group of students and their teachers to support their school representative and also participate as audience members. English teacher Tim Straub has been a huge supporter of his students and the program. Along with Sonja Johnson, art teacher who is amazing! Everyone can benefit from the experience. This year was no exception but it was the first time Rangeley traveled home with the POL State Champ. Those of us who live in a small town in Maine know how exciting this news was for the residents in Rangeley and you can see in the video (below) what that looked like to Ella’s dad on the night of March 3 returning to town. (Get out your tissues).

Sadly the Corona virus (COVID-19) has robbed Ella and her school community the opportunity to travel to D.C. at the end of April for the national event. Even though the national event has been canceled it doesn’t remove the pride that this community has for Ella! I’m sure her three poems will be with her everywhere she travels during her lifetime.

If your high school doesn’t participate in the Poetry Out Loud program you can learn more at the National Poetry Out Loud website. Poetry Out Loud is a national arts education program that encourages the study of great poetry by offering free educational materials and a dynamic recitation competition to high school students across the country. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life. Poetry Out Loud is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation and administered at the state level by the Maine Arts Commission.

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Celebration

March 17, 2020

Maine Excellence in Arts Education

Last week at the State House students, teachers, parents and other community members came together to celebrate the art of children. There was music, dancing, poetry recitations, and much more. The Maine Arts Commission (MAC) Maine Excellence in Arts Education celebration is an opportunity to recognize students whose art work is on display throughout the State House complex.

Forty students were recognized for their accomplishments and presented a certificate by David Greenham, MAC Chair and Martha Piscuskas, MAC Director of Arts Education. Performances were provided by the Maine Arts Academy Chamber Singers from Sidney, Little Eagles Drumming Group from Pleasant Point, and the Indian Township School Dancers.

Artist Ethan from Sebago Elementary School with his art work and family

Ethan receiving his certificate

Student artists at the State House

Indian Township School dancers

Maine Arts Academy Chamber Singers

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Theater Vacation Camp – Portland

February 10, 2020

Ovations Offstage/Portland Recreation’s Theater Vacation Camp

February Vacation Theater Camp – “The Wizard of Oz” – February 17 – 21, 2020 from 8:30 – 3:30pm

You can ensure your child’s February break is filled with creativity, growth, play, and the exploration of endless imaginative possibilities by registering them for Ovations Offstage/Portland Recreation’s Theater Vacation Camp! This camp is great for kids who have no theater experience to those who have participated in a few productions or taken a few theater classes. The teaching staff is well able to differentiate across experience and create a place for each student to be an integral member of the ensemble. All students will participate in the following workshops throughout the week: Stage Basics, Accelerating Imaginations: An Intro to Acting, Musical Theatre Singing, Puppetry along with theatre games and rehearsals for the final production. Click on the image below for more details.

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MALI Update

February 4, 2020

Good news from the Maine Arts Commission

The Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) members and Martha Piscuskas the new director of arts education at the Maine Arts Commission have been working since last summer on the valuable work of MALI.

For those veteran readers of this blog, you are probably well aware of MALI and its importance to the field of Maine Arts Education. For any newcomers, and those needing a refresher, MALI is a program of the Maine Arts Commission. MALI is a network of Maine Arts Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders dedicated to supporting each others’ leadership, growth as educators, and promotion of authentic arts experiences in all genres for all Maine students. It grew out of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative, a grassroots effort by some Maine Arts Teachers to educate themselves and create some guidelines and practices for arts assessment. Almost every year since 2011,  MALI has held a summer institute for visual and performing arts teachers to deepen their mastery of teaching the arts. A yearlong cohort continues to work together, working towards specific individual goals and culminating in public presentations.

TWO IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER

  • Winter Retreat – Saturday, Feb 29
  • Summer Institute NOTE NEW MONTH: — Thursday and Friday, June 25 & 26

With a leadership transition, MALI is taking this year to re-evaluate its purpose, clarify its structure and strengthen its role. Two leadership teams are tackling these tasks, and will be seeking feedback from all MALI members.

VISION TEAM

Vision Team members Dana Legawiec, Jen Driscoll, Lynda Leonas, Jake Sturtevant, and Sue Barre. Skyping in: Shawna Barnes, Jen Acosta

The Vision Team is a think-tank tasked with establishing a system and structure for MALI to grow and thrive into the future. It is comprised of 7 MALI Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders, including Jake Sturtevant (Phase 1), Jen Acosta (Phase 1), Shawna Barnes (Phase 8), Sue Barre (Phase 3), Jennie Driscoll (Phase 1), Dana Legawiec (Phase 7), Lynda Leonas (Phase 5) and Martha Piscuskas (MAC). The team members have had a variety of powerful MALI experiences, and agree that the organization has had a lasting impact on Maine Arts Education.

The Vision Team has reviewed the MALI vision and mission statements, as well as the current structure of MALI. It is their goal to ensure that MALI will continue to foster a community of passionate Arts Educators and Teaching Artists. The community will allow for professional growth that will directly impact students. It is their intent to help maintain, and sustain, the positive aspects of MALI, while strengthening the organizational mission that MALI represents.

In order to focus discussion they have been investigating answers to these questions:

  1. What does it mean to be a MALI Teacher Leader/Teaching Artist Leader?
  2. How can MALI gain fiscal stability?
  3. How can the MALI community bring in more passionate Arts Educators and Teaching Artists?
  4. How can MALI develop an institutional governance structure that allows for flexibility and growth, and maintains a grassroots approach for developing a community of Arts Educators?

They will continue discussions, and would welcome thoughts and ideas from anyone who has been touched by the MALI community. They will develop a future MALI Vision at the Winter Retreat on Saturday, February 29, 2020.

PROGRAM TEAM

Program Team members Kate Smith, Dorie Tripp, and Kaitlin Young deep in thought. Other side of table include Melanie Crowe, Bronwyn Sale, Iva Damon, and Brigid Rankowski

The Program Team was tasked with maintaining MALI’s current offerings such as the Winter Retreat, a call for new members, the Summer Institute and Critical Friends’ Day. The Program Team members are Kate Smith (phase 4), Bronwyn Sale (higher ed rep), Iva Damon (phase 5), Melanie Crowe (Phase 3), Kaitlin Young (phase 7), Dorie Tripp (Phase 7), Emma Campbell (phase 4), Brigid Rankowski (Phase 6)  and Martha Piscuskas (MAC). The team has met several times via zoom conference and in person on January 26th. They have chosen the themes “teacher leadership” and “self-care” for the MALI Winter Retreat on February 29th and look forward to seeing all MALI members past and present.

MALI Teams thank all Maine arts educators for all you do and continue to do, and look forward to hearing from you. To share feedback or for more information, or to MALI folks for sign-up information, please connect with a Team member, or Martha Piscuskas, Director of Arts Education at the Maine Arts Commission: martha.piscuskas@maine.gov 207-287-2750.

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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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Holiday

December 22, 2019

Vacation – say no more!

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