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Invite a Legislator to School Month

January 15, 2019

Every teacher in Maine

The message below is from Maine Teachers of the Year, Shelly Moody (2011) and Kaitlin Young (2018). They’re following through with an initiative that Kevin Grover started before he died in 2012.

Kevin at the surprise announcement for the 2010 Maine Teacher of the Year.

Many of you may not have had the pleasure of meeting Kevin Grover, our 2010 Maine Teacher of the Year. Kevin made a connection with every person who was fortunate to cross his path. He had a deep commitment and love of teaching that inspired all of us who were blessed to know him.

Kevin created “Bring Your Legislator to School Week” with a goal of engaging, enlightening and informing policy makers from our local or state government. His intent was to provide school board members and legislators with a better understanding of how their decisions affect learners and educators across the state of Maine. In 2013, Representative Mary Nelson of Falmouth and Educate Maine moved forward with Kevin’s vision by sponsoring LD 822 in his honor.

Although it has been almost 6 years since LD822 established January as Invite Your Legislator to School Month, the Maine State Teacher of the Year Association believes that that it’s time for us to return to Kevin’s vision.  Our goal is to begin an annual tradition of inviting stakeholders into our schools to meet with teachers, administrators, and students. It is our hope that this experience will strengthen the relationships between all parties, promote increased knowledge, and initiate productive conversation surrounding prekindergarten to grade twelve public education programs.

The following is an excerpt from a letter Kevin sent to his colleagues regarding his idea:

Yes, that’s Grover in the photo with Kevin and Vice-President Joe Biden during a visit to Washington, D.C. as the 2010 Maine Teacher of the Year.

I propose that teachers contact local town councilors, school board members, state representatives and federal representatives. Elected officials should be invited to spend at least one hour in a classroom helping and/or observing. It is not a time for a panel discussion, whole school assemblies in honor of prestigious guests or catered lunches, it is time for sitting in on a math lesson, reading to students, or joining teachers on their 20 minute lunch break at the photocopier. It is time for a dose of reality.

Let’s join together and start 2019 by building bridges with the decision makers who impact our students and schools!

For more information, please visit our Invite Your Legislator to School Month collection of resources and/or resources from our session presentations at ECET2ME and MEA Fall Conference! CLICK HERE to find your Senator or Representative. 

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Arts Accessibility

January 14, 2019

What does it mean?

This post is reprinted with permission from Shawna Barnes’ blog located at THIS LINKShawna is a Teaching Artist Leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALi). She is a ceramic sculptor and mixed media artist who loves sharing her passion with others. Shawna is a strong advocate for the arts being accessible to all. She is an Army veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF 7) from 2009-2010. Shawna lives with several disabilities including myasthenia gravis, cervical dystonia, seizures, hypermobility joint syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, and PTSD. 

Shawna created a survey on arts accessibility which you are invited to complete; access it at THIS LINK

One of the things I talk about a lot is the phrase “arts accessibility” and the fact that I am an advocate for it. In discussions with colleagues and friends, I realized that it isn’t really a clear term. This point was driven home even further when I included the question “What does arts accessibility mean to you” in a survey I shared asking for feedback regarding educators’ struggles with arts accessibility in the classroom/studio. So I figured I’d take some time and provide an overview on all the different possible definitions of arts accessibility and what it means to me.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #1

For me, it started when I was exploring different opportunities for artist residencies, workshops,  and seminars. As someone with mobility impairments, I always had to ask if the facility was accessible. No…….handicap accessible, not accessible from the highway. One of the things I discovered was that most of the facilities are not friendly or easy to navigate for those of us who have any type of mobility impairment/disability. This was a discovery made long before I became a teaching artist leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative; it was then, however, that arts accessibility became my pet project. I was disappointed and downright bummed out about missing out on some amazing learning opportunities because the studio spaces were on the second floor of an old barn with no elevator access… or down several flights of outside stairs down the side of a cliff…or lacking any sort of climate control (air conditioning or heat source). And those barriers were from just a few of the locations I looked at locally. The facilities themselves are spectacular and amazing; drawing high caliber artists and professionals from around the world… This is just one example of what arts accessibility could look like – the most literal definition of the phrase – physical accessibility to a facility.

My disabilities are acquired; I was not born with them.  As a result, I am acutely aware on all the amazing things I am missing out on as a result. That FOMO (fear of missing out) is real ladies and gentleman, and the sting is one that is ever present. I quietly made it my mission to let the administrators of these facilities know that I was deeply saddened to be missing out because the facilities were not accessible. Some enlightening and hopeful conversations have been had as a result of this dialogue.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #2

Another quite literal definition of the term is actually having access to the arts. This includes students having access to art classes at their school, having nearby museums or art studios to attend, local theaters and dance halls, et al. There was a big focus on STEM curriculum, and as a result the creative arts saw a lot of cuts in Prek-12 curriculum. Recently however, administrators, educators, and clinicians are acknowledging the importance art has in youth development. This re-discovery has transitioned STEM curriculum to STEAM with the A standing for the arts. There are still many students who do not have the opportunity to take an art class – either one offered as part of their daily curriculum OR after school activities. This access barrier extends well beyond academic and includes all people who have interest in learning more about a topic in art.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #3

A third definition of “arts accessibility” is one of economic hardship. Learners of all ages who live in impoverished communities lack the financial means to be able to explore the creative arts. In areas where art and band are still offered as part of the middle/high school curriculum it’s less of an issue; at least they have the exposure to a creative outlet. However for others where these classes are not available, lacking the financial ability to enroll in after school classes at studios or arts organizations is a barrier. Economic barriers prevent access… which leads me to my next definition…

Arts Accessibility – Definition #4

Accessibility to the arts could have nothing to do with infrastructure and everything to do with the abilities of the staff. For adults and children with a wide range of developmental disabilities, the physical access definition is less important than having access to teachers who are able to meet them where they’re at. What I mean by that, is that for many in this demographic, teaching/leading them through an art class takes considerable patience and an understanding of how their brain functions. When families find artists/educators who ARE qualified and adept at working with these populations, the financial barrier is then factored in. Finding and hiring experienced artists can be expensive.  Investing in custom equipment and tools to allow the student the highest level of engagement in activities can be cost prohibitive.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #5

My fifth and final definition for arts accessibility, is one of the psychological variety. It has everything to do with the possible/potential student. The commonly accepted definition/understanding of creativity is that it’s something artists have. If the student feels and truly believes that they just don’t have the skill to create anything worthwhile and thus are defeated before they even try, that is a barrier to access. If it’s one thing I LOVE doing…it’s breaking down this particular barrier to arts access. It is a barrier that anyone can break down and help the student over if the teacher has the right tools in their toolbox.

And there ya have it. Those are MY five definitions of what  arts accessibility barriers could look like. There’s likely more that I haven’t thought of or come across yet. In future posts, I will break down each definition and explain how I personally work towards overcoming the barrier to access. It’s just as much about breaking down the stigma that only artists can appreciate art and reap benefits from a creative outlet as it is about providing opportunities for people to explore activities they’d never considered.

What does “arts accessibility” mean to you? How do you overcome the barriers?

You can follow Shawna at the following: 

www.shawnabarnes.com
www.facebook.com/shawn.n.m.barnes
www.instagram.com/shawna.n.m.barnes

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Congratulations Music Educators

January 13, 2019

Two music teachers recognized

Dean Neal

For 20 years band directors from across the country have been nominated to the School Band and Orchestra Magazine for the award titled “50 Directors Who Make a Difference”. Representing Maine this year is Dean Neal, music educator who has taught for 29 years at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield. Congratulations Dean! Below you can read his story published with the other 49 recipients at THIS LINK.

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

There is no singular moment which compares to the great sense of pride I have in being a part in helping music education become an integral part of the school community at Maine Central Institute. When I first began teaching at M.C.I. in 1990, music classes and ensembles were present, but they had not yet realized their great potential to influence the lives of each person in our school community. Through the joint efforts of K-12 Music Educators, parents and students, music now enjoys being a part of a vibrant arts community which impacts our school and local community in significant ways.

How do you hope to make a difference in your students’ lives?

I hope to give them a voice to express their thoughts, emotions, and creativity through music. Regardless of their chosen instrument be it wind, percussion, voice, piano, string or digital music creation; each student has something to say and something to share through music which is programmed for them or music which they select or create. Effective art has the ability to communicate with people in powerful ways and I am thankful to be a part of bringing that out of our students.

I have a zippered vest which I wear to school most days. On this vest is embroidered a simple three-word phrase “Work in Progress.” I want my students to know that I am a “work in progress,” they are a “work in progress,” the music we study is a “work in progress,” each class is a “work in progress,” and likewise each performance is a “work in progress.” This is not meant to convey a sense of never-ending work but rather the reality that each day brings with it new challenges and new accomplishments. It is exciting to be on the “construction team” of their “work in progress!”

Tom Lizotte

Congratulations Tom Lizotte, music educator from Cape Elizabeth High School! Tom was recently named the 2019 John LaPorta Music Educator of the Year by the Berklee College of Music and the Jazz Educators Network (JEN). Tom will receive his award at the JEN conference in Reno, NV, and at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival.

Thomas Lizotte is an accomplished music educator who has influenced the artistic lives of thousands of students. He is a teacher at Cape Elizabeth High School in Cape Elizabeth, ME. Thomas Lizotte has been in public education for the past 30 years. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts, with degrees in music education and wind conducting. He has taught high school in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Florida and Maine. His primary jazz influences have been Dave Sporny, Dave Demsey Paul Alberta, Don Doane and Steve Massey. He is a regular contributor to The Instrumentalist magazine. Long active as a teacher and judge in the marching arts, he is a member of three teaching halls of fame – Massachusetts Drum Corps, Boston Crusaders and Maine Music Educators.

Read more about Tom and his award at THIS LINK!

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ArtWorks!

January 12, 2019

University of Maine campus

ArtWorks!, an art program for students in grades K through 8, provides children an opportunity to explore the world of art through hands-on experiences with a variety of visual media, the history of art, and the viewing of art works. The spring ArtWorks! session will run for five consecutive weeks with classes held on Friday afternoonsfrom February 8-March 8, 3:30-5:00 in Lord Hall on the University of Maine campus. The fifth week will be the Children’s exhibition held on March 8th.

Parents or guardians are responsible for their children’s transportation to and from the program.  Classes will begin promptly at 3:30 and conclude at 5:00 sharpFor safety, students will not be allowed to leave the classroom until the pre-designated adult has come to the room to pick him or her up.

Class sections are organized by age and/or grade level, and spaces are very limited. Acceptance into the program will be on a first-come-first-serve basis. A list of alternates will be kept in case of vacancies.

A $25 course feewill be charged for the spring session to cover the costs of materials used during the classes. The course fee must be paid on or before the first day of classes. Checks should be made out to the University of Maine. A limited number of scholarships are available.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: January 31

♥All ArtWorks! classes are taught by Art Education undergraduate students, under the close supervision of Dr. Constant Albertson. ArtWorks! is a lab school designed to provide future art teachers the opportunity to develop the skills necessary for success in their future classrooms.To facilitate this, we ask parents and Ed. Techs to stay outside the classroom during the ArtWorks!Sessions.  As this will be one of the students’ first formal teaching experience it is important that it be as realistic as possible. Your cooperation is appreciated.

♥  Art classes will take place on the second and third floors of Lord Hall. There is an elevator to all floors and the bathrooms are accessible. Art Education students will contact you prior to the first class to give you your child(ren)’s room number(s). If your child has particular learning needs or allergies, it is the parent/guardian’s responsibility to contact Dr. Albertson directly prior to the first class, and inform the art education student who calls you.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Dr. Constant Albertson at 581-3251 or the Dept. of Art, Lord Hall, at 581-3245 or by e-mail: constant@maine.edu.

THE AFTER-SCHOOL ARTWORKS!PROGRAM APPLICATION

Please printclearly (this is very important!)

Student’s name:_________________________________________________________________________

 

Age:_______ Grade Level:_______   School: ________________________________________________

 

Parent or Guardian’s name:________________________________ Day Phone:____________________

 

Email Address:________________________________________Evening Phone:____________________

APPLICATION DEADLINE: January 31

Please make checks out to University of Maine.  Send applications to University of Maine, Dept. of Art, Lord Hall, Orono, ME. 04469-5743. Attention:  ArtWorks!

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Moxie Goes Artsy

January 11, 2019

2019 Moxie Festival Call for Art

It’s official!  Lisbon’s Moxie Festival Committee today issued a call for artwork.  Each year, the Moxie Festival Committee selects artwork to be used for t-shirts, posters, and branded items. The selected artwork will be consistent with the fun 2019 theme of “Moxie Goes Artsy.” The Moxie Festival committee selected this theme to inspire a “distinctively different” visual representation of the Moxie spirit, which by dictionary definition means energy, pep, and courage.  It’s also the official beverage of the state of Maine. The committee is seeking an artistic image as iconic as the beverage itself.

Festival organizer Julie-Ann Baumer said the committee is looking for submissions from Maine artists.  “We are looking for a unique look and feel for this year’s festival artwork, given the theme. There are so many amazing and hardworking creative people here in Maine. I look forward to seeing their work.”

The three-day festival, celebrated at the peak of summer with a parade, a 5k run, live music, and many other events, is a glorious homage to the distinctively different beverage, Moxie. The winning artwork will be reproduced on an exclusive and collectible T-shirt, posters, and other festival-branded items.  In addition to seeing their artwork proudly displayed on thousands of T-shirts sold and worn during the Moxie Festival, this year the winner will receive a $750 cash prize, media recognition, the first 2019 printed T-shirt, and the opportunity to judge parade floats designed and inspired by the theme.

The deadline for entries is Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. Winners will be selected by the Moxie Festival Committee. The winner will be announced on Thursday, February 14, 2019. Complete details and guidelines are currently both online at www.moxiefestival.com or at the MTM Community Center, 18 School Street, Lisbon Falls, Maine.

The Moxie Festival, celebrating Maine’s official soft drink, is always the second weekend in July. Mark your calendars for the 2019 Moxie Festival, July 12 – 14, 2019. If you have questions please contact Julie-Ann Baumer at jbaumer@lisbonme.org.

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Music Intern

January 10, 2019

Camp Mummichog

Damariscotta River Association’s (DRA) Camp Mummichog is looking for an Music Intern for 2 weeks – July 22 through August 2, 2019 to assist with our River Beats program. This program merges science, nature and music composition for children ages 9 to 14.

Salary: $1,000.00 for the 2 weeks. Daily hours are 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, weekdays. Some evening hours to complete work (music transcription) maybe requested. Housing may be available. The position is available for a music teacher or an undergrad majoring in music education.

Requirements:

– Has experience teaching children and loves doing so;

– Has experience with music transcription;

– Has experience playing an instrument or writing music, preferably at a professional level;

– Has a positive attitude;

– Is able to keep supplies, schedules and tasks in order;

– Understands music notation and basic string techniques;

– Willing to help with all camp duties of supporting children as they learn and play (most of it outdoors), including playing games with them;

– Work with Camp Director, Sarah Gladu and Music Educator, Will Healy of the NY Philharmonics Very Young Composers Program and ShoutHouse!   http://willhealymusic.com/ ) to manage program.

This program is a merging of nature, science, outdoor experiences and music composition (for string quartet who provides a public concert of the campers music the second Friday afternoon of the program at DRA’s Darrows Barn, Damariscotta. We spend one day on an island exploring and writing music. We also go kayaking during the program. To see camp description: http://www.damariscottariver.org/events-programs/camp-mummichog/  – Find “River Beats” session for specifics.

If you are interested please email Sarah R. Gladu, Director of Education and Environmental Monitoring at dra@damariscottariver.org, the following: a short letter about yourself and why you would like this position as well as three references (at least one of whom has seen you work with children) that can be called.

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Americans Who Tell the Truth

January 9, 2019

Syracuse University curriculum connections

Students preparing for their solo performance based on one of Rob Shetterly’s paintings.

If you are a Maine Arts Education blog follower you know that I’ve included a handful of posts on Americans Who Tell the Truth and artist Robert Shetterly. The last post Americans Who Tell the Truth in Syracuse included information on the 238 portraits of Rob’s that were on display at Syracuse University.

I followed up with Connie Carter who works with Rob visiting Maine schools who are using the paintings in multiple ways. I was curious how a higher education institute was tapping into this incredible body of work. Fortunately, it was a question that Rob and Connie asked as well and videos have been created on the topic. Raw footage for the most part that are posted on Vimeo can be found at the links below.

Steve and Rob conversing about the Solo Creations course work.

Jim Clark from the theater department at Syracuse University was interviewed and speaks very clearly about the power of the portraits for students in the creative arts and beyond. CLICK HERE to view the interview and use the password AWTTClark.

The second video includes an incredible interview with Steve Cross, professor of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. He teaches a required course titled: Solo Creations that uses the portraits to explore ideas about creating a solo piece. The video includes performances by a couple of his students so you can see the outcomes of the work with Mr. Shetterly’s paintings. CLICK HERE to view the interview with Steve and his students performances. Use the password AWTTCross. 

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