Support the Theatre

November 20, 2020

I LOVE this and hope you will also love this! Filmed London’s West End the song is from The Greatest Showman and is reminding us that the theatre community needs our support.


Samantha Smith Challenge

November 19, 2020

Guidelines available

The guidelines for Americans Who Tell the Truth‘s (AWTT) Samantha Smith Challenge are posted on the website (www.americanswhotellthetruth.org). Connie Carter, Education Director, from AWTT hopes that you and your students will take this opportunity to engage in this challenge as we work collectively to find creative and powerful ways to make our society stronger.


The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is a dynamic educational program for Maine middle and high school students that uses art to to build a bridge between the classroom and the world to create curious, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them.  

Maine student, Peace Activist, 1972-1985

SSC 2020-2021: Show US Who You Are

As Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) reflects on the past year and looks forward to the months ahead, we are asking students this year to focus on one of three critical themes – racial equity, climate change, and health care. The SSC asks students to use their voices on one of these topics, take action, and Show US Who You Are. AWTT portrait subjects model how the beliefs, voices, and actions of youth can influence important social justice issues. Check out: 

Kelsey Juliana
Zyahna Bryant
Claudette Colvin
Becci Ingram
Rachel Corrie
Barbara Johns
LeAlan Jones
Nicole and Jonas Maines
Chloe Maxmin
and, of course, Samantha Smith

There is no deadline for registering unless you want to have a virtual visit Robert Shetterly and Connie. Please contact Connie Carter at connie@americanswhotellthetruth.org with question or if you’d like to connect with any of the living portrait subjects about your projects.  

A warm message from Connie: “Thank you all for being phenomenal educators in a time that demands so much.  Your students are very fortunate to have you!


Watershed Resources

November 18, 2020

New resources are now available about finding, processing, and creating with native Maine clay. With support from the Maine Arts Commission and the Anonimo Foundation, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts education team has created resources for teachers, students, and makers interested in working with clay found in Maine’s great outdoors. Follow the link below to access videos and tutorials on digging and processing glacial marine clay.  

The videos feature Watershed and Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist Malley Weber.

The Maine Clay Tutorials are interesting and creative, I’m sure you and your students will learn from them and enjoy them.

Artist Malley Weber

Teaching and Learning Outside

November 17, 2020

You in or out or ?

During the last few months we’ve been hearing about moving the classroom outside since it is safer than being inside during the pandemic. Many teachers patched together how to teach online in the spring, the summer studying how to teach online and simultaneously with students in person. Many are holding their breath that the pandemic doesn’t worsen so they are forced to go full time online once again and I see in the news this morning that is happening in some schools across the state of Maine.

In the Maine Sunday Telegram this past weekend an article was included written by Rachel Ohm about what many Maine school districts and teachers are doing to move learning outdoors. The benefit to students learning visual arts outside are numerous. Close observation for drawing, painting, sculpting and actual experiences with a variety of textures are just two examples that make the curriculum more authentic and engage learners at a deeper level.

PORTLAND, ME – NOVEMBER 13: Katie West teaches an outdoor art class to third graders in the woods at Lyseth Elementary School in Portland on Friday, November 13, 2020. (Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer)


The article includes how art teacher Katie West is using an outdoor classroom at Lyseth Elementary School in Portland. As long as her students are safe she plans to continue teaching outside. Her classroom includes a tarp with waterproof cushions and stumps for students to stay appropriately space. I’m sure some of you are wondering about the winter elements and learners being prepared with the clothing to keep them warm. Fortunately the school district is using some of their relief funds to purchase clothing for students; 500 hats and 1,000 pairs of gloves have been distributed to students. Six-hundred pairs of snow pants are expected to arrive after Thanksgiving. An order of fleece will be cut up into blankets and neck warmers. Katie has received a $1,000 grant to start a gear exchange for the students at Lyseth.


South Portland Schools have created over 90 outdoor learning spaces across eight schools for outdoor instruction to take place. The grades K-5 students in Freeport have the option for remote learning with the Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment. In Alna the the PK-grade 5 Juniper Hill School has been teaching and learning outside since it was established in 2011 with the school’s focus on nature. At Sweetland School in Hope (where I teach) over the summer a gazebo was built so teaching and learning can take place in a location protected from the elements. Along with the gazebo they have a greenhouse complete with a wood stove that is used for another outdoor learning space.

PORTLAND, ME – NOVEMBER 13: Third grader Gianna Meas works on her painting of a tree during an outdoor art class in the woods at Lyseth Elementary School in Portland on Friday, November 13, 2020. (Staff Photo by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer)


About a year ago Kate Ehrenfeld Gardoqui wrote an article that was published in Education Week called The Irrefutable Case for Taking Class Outside. She told a story about being at a Teacher of the Year event when someone made this comment to her: “Oh, you do the nature stuff, right? That sounds so fun!” As visual and performing arts educators we can relate to that type of comment, right? Kate works with the Great Schools Partnership and is the cofounder of White Pine Programs, a nature-connection organization in southern Maine. She was a finalist for the 2011 Maine State Teacher of the Year. Needless to say Kate is no slouch when it comes to teaching and learning. She included in her article that teachers who simply don’t know what is taught and learned in outdoor education can’t possibly understand the potential of the curriculum. Her story drives the point home about how we not only have to education children but adults as well.

I heard from Kate yesterday and she said how inspiring the work that Maine schools are doing opening the door to incorporating outdoor learning throughout the school day. She shared information about three schools.

  • Kingfield Elementary, where teacher Selina Green Warren has spearheaded a vibrant gardening program, and principal Johanna Prince has supported many teachers in exploring the possibilities of outdoor learning. LEARN MORE. Selina’s work was started before the pandemic; when teachers at her school started searching for ways to bring learning outside, they realized what an amazing asset Selina’s garden was.
  • Great Works School in South Berwick has also been doing some amazing work on building year-round environments for outdoor learning. Here is an article about LEARN MORE.
  • Kate recently published a blog on the Great Schools Partnership page about some other programs that have been inspiring her. LEARN MORE.


” On the whole, my deepest wish is that one legacy of this pandemic is that more teachers will recognize the incredible value of learning experiences that don’t happen inside classrooms. There’s been so much loss, but I’m hoping that this might be one silver lining.

There’s plenty of resources available for those considering ‘taking your classroom outside’ I certainly agree with Kate and in addition I know that quality education programs in the Arts are not only providing deep meaningful learning but holding the hope in our hearts and minds that we will get through this pandemic and be better people for it!


Richard’s Leaves Commission

November 16, 2020

In the news Portland Press Bob Keyes

Julie Richard, who has directed the Maine Arts Commission since 2012, will leave her post in Augusta next month to return to Arizona, where she will direct the Sedona Art Center.

“This has not been an easy decision for me,” Richard wrote in her letter of resignation. “I care deeply about the arts and culture sector in Maine and I am very proud of what has been accomplished during my tenure.”

David Greenham, the commission’s chairman, thanked Richard for her service and wished her well. “I am very happy for Julie and also very grateful for the work she has done in Maine to bring the arts commission forward in so many areas,” he said in a phone interview. An interim director likely will be named in a few weeks, while the commission begins looking for a replacement, he said.

In a news release announcing Richard’s departure, the commission cited her work to create a statewide cultural plan in 2015, her efforts to reform the agency’s grant programs and the creation of an advocacy and support organization for the state’s cultural sector, ArtsEngageMe. She also oversaw a statewide census of arts education in Maine and instituted the biennial Maine International Conference on the Arts.

Greenham said Richard and her staff have been responsive to the pandemic, taking on at least two extra grant programs since March to help artists and arts organizations. “That’s a lot of work and a big process, and that was on top of all the regular work they do with the grant programs,” he said.

In a typical year, the commission processes about 450 grant applications across multiple programs and artistic disciplines. In 2020, it reviewed and processed 1,421 successful grants to provide emergency relief with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and CARES Act.

Read the entire article from the Portland Press at THIS LINK.


Power Washing Art

November 13, 2020

Now this is a fun video to end your school week. Check out the awesome work of art that Ron Burkett created on his driveway using a pressure washer. While he was quarantined early this year he made this artwork. It took Ron about seven hours spread over two days to create this cool outdoor scene. I love the wildlife that he included in the driveway art. If you enjoyed this video you might also like to see a Remarkable Tree Stump Artist using a chain saw to turn a stump into a work of art. 



November 12, 2020

Global collection announced

Last week in Helsinki, Finland during the HundrED Innovation Summit 100 leading innovations in K12 education from around the world were announced. These free resources are part of the 4th Collection. The goal is to inspire a grassroots movement by helping pedagogically sound, ambitious innovations to spread and adapt to multiple contexts around the world.

Unfortunately, the in-person summit had to be adapted this year to an online opportunity. Luckily this didn’t get in the way of providing inspirational speakers, panels, and discussions for all participants. Educators were invited to share their creative ideas with an audience from around the world.

HundrED partnered with Lego to release a Spotlight Report on Creativity answering the question: How can we effectively nurture creativity in education? The report highlights that there are no shortages of ideas around the world that are scalable and impactful. You can access the report and read what was learned. I’m sure it will be important information for you navigating education at the local district and community level.



November 11, 2020

In the year 2000 I met Joani Share who was an art teacher at Arcadia High School in Phoenix, Arizona. We were selected for the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund to learn about the education system on a three week trip. There were many other educators but it was the Art that initially connected us. We learned together on that memorable trip and have continued to stay connected visiting each other in Maine, Arizona and now California where Joani has retired. Joani continues to teach workshops for young and old (including her grandchildren) along with being an amazing painter. She is active in community and social justice topics raising awareness through her own art and collectively with the voices of other artists.

Like many other artists she’s using her creativity and knowledge to consider other ways to make an impact. Three years ago forming “stARTover” to collect art materials and supplies for artists who had lost so much in the wildfires that spread quickly through Napa and Sonoma in Northern California. Recently she emailed about ARTicipate.

From the website:

ARTicipate for Humanity is an evolving resource directory to help connect people, ideas, and projects by using art to foster the humanitarian spirit. ARTicipate is not limited by geography or timelines. 
You can ARTicipate by supporting the growing resource list, as well as by recommending an art organization or artist to join ARTicipate. 

Joani Share with a van fall of art supplies collected for artists who had suffered loss from the wildfires in California

Blog post from the ARTicipate site

Recently I attended one of my art groups through a Zoom session, and everyone was working independently on their own projects. As artists, we are used to working alone in our studios, but during this time of COVID, our need to connect with other creative thinkers seems more important than ever. As we worked and shared our projects during the Zoom session, I was fascinated to see what was being created. Various people in the group were making art to help organizations that contribute to the greater good, as a means of using art to help others. I saw blankets made for infants and toddlers, blue hats to stop bullying, and sewn art panels designed as a remembrance for people who lost their lives due to violence. Seeing my friends working passionately through their art to help others got me thinking.

Three years ago, I formed “stARTover” to collect art materials and supplies for artists who had lost so much in the wildfires that spread quickly through Napa and Sonoma in Northern California. I contacted a number of friends, and local art organizations to gather supplies, and store them until arrangements could be made for a huge pick up. We urged fellow artists to donate, new or gently used art materials so that the artist recipients would be able to make artwork with proper equipment and supplies, not just the dregs of someone else’s studio. It was important to help the artists who lost everything to feel supported, and to lift their emotional spirit, when so much of their lives had literally gone up in flames. We spread the word, and over an 8-week period so many art supplies were gathered that I needed to rent a U-Haul truck to make deliveries. I contacted art organizations in both Napa and Sonoma who knew the hard hit individuals and offered to house the donated supplies, categorize them and help distribute everything to those artists in the greatest need. 

Through “stARTover” we were able to help those artists get back to work and make art a part of the recovery and healing process. “stARTover” was local, and had a limited timeframe, it was literally meant to help artists to begin creating as soon as possible. The outpouring of generosity from the area showed how quickly a community could come together. If we can build an art community on a small scale, what can we do if we go bigger?

After the Zoom session with my art friends, I decided to reactive ARTicipate as a way to connect artists, individuals and organizations to make a difference and as a way to form an artful community that is not limited by time or specific geographic areas. I hope that ARTicipate can become a resource and bridge to make the connections needed to bring artists and organizations together. I see ARTicipate as a living resource directory that can grow and connect people through art. Like “stARTover,” I sincerely hope that the art community will come together to connect people, ideas and projects by using art to foster the humanitarian spirit.

If you’re interested in participating or having your students get involved in ARTicipate please check out the website at https://articipate.com and/or contact Joani Share at joani.share@gmail.com. You can apply to be part of the site on the website under Contact.


Spirit of Community Awards

November 10, 2020

Recognizing students work

Perhaps now more than ever we need to recognize and celebrate the work of our students. I’m happy to share this opportunity provided by Prudential that invites teachers/schools to highlight the work of young people.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is launching its 26th annual search for exemplary young volunteers. Once again, the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) is proud to support this unique youth recognition program–-especially in a year when so many students have had to go above and beyond to continue their volunteer service. I hope you’ll encourage your school to take advantage of the opportunities that it provides.

Sponsored by Prudential Financial and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the awards program has honored more than 140,000 middle level and high school volunteers since 1995, and has provided schools nationwide with an excellent opportunity to promote volunteerism. This is how the program works:

  • The process begins at the school level. Students fill out applications online and submit them to their principals. Then, schools select their top youth volunteers, present them with certificates, and recognize them as role models. Qualifying top applicants also receive President’s Volunteer Service Awards.
  • A state-level judging panel selects the top middle level and high school candidate in each state and the District of Columbia.
  • These State Honorees earn $1,000 scholarships, beautifully engraved silver medallions and an invitation to the program’s national recognition events. Hundreds of other state-level honorees receive bronze medallions or special certificates. 

One of the distinguishing characteristics of this program is the recognition it provides for middle level students. Every year, half of its 102 State Honoree scholarships, and five of its 10 national scholarships, are granted to students in grades 5 through 8. These scholarships provide middle level educators with a chance to celebrate and encourage civic responsibility by our students. 

All middle level and high school principals have been sent a packet with complete details on the 2021 program, and additional packets are available by calling 888-651-2951. Details are also available at spirit.prudential.com. The student application deadline this year is November 10, and the deadline for schools to certify applications for state-level judging is November 20

This program presents a great opportunity to publicize the wonderful things that kids are doing and the role that schools play in promoting community involvement. I hope you’ll encourage your school to participate.


Arts are Important

November 9, 2020

Whether education systems and individuals believe that arts education is essential, referred to as enrichment, are extra-curricular or an elective no one will disagree that the arts provide something that other content do not.

Last week the Bangor Metro published an article supporting the value of arts education. The article called Here’s Why the Arts are Important in Education. It cites research from the University of British Columbia published in the Journal of Educational Psychology and from Dr. Frank Wilson who is the assistant clinical professor neurology at the University School of Medicine in San Francisco, and from “Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement,” a publication by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and the Arts Education Partnership. Highlights point to higher test scores in math, science, English, and reasoning and creative thinking when engaged in the arts. Also, the positive impact on coordination, concentration, memory and improvement of hearing and eyesight.

In addition to research, Maine educators from Thornton Academy and Lewiston provided their own observations and experiences supporting the value of arts education programming. The next two paragraphs are taken directly from the article.

Kelsey Boucher, a K-6 Visual Arts Educator at Connors Elementary School in Lewiston, agrees, saying children are like sponges and will absorb everything in. “The earlier they are exposed to the arts and languages, the more confident they are in these areas as they grow older,” Boucher said.

Sarah Helgesen, a Special Education Teacher at Thornton Academy in Saco has witnessed nonverbal students “enunciate sounds to music and play instruments to the beat while having the best time,” and said that’s when she feels enrichment programs have proven to be the most successful, adding value to every student.

You can read the entire article at THIS LINK!

%d bloggers like this: