Posts Tagged ‘Alice Sullivan’


Another Arts Teachers’ Story: Alice Sullivan

March 27, 2012

Featuring one teacher’s journey as an arts educator

This is the second in a series of blog posts telling arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read their stories and to learn from others. This post features Alice Sullivan who has been teaching music for 27 years. Alice is one of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s Teacher Leaders, Phase I, and represents the region of Washington County.

Alice is currently teaching, grades K-12, at Woodland Jr. Sr. High School, Woodland Elementary School and Princeton Elementary School. She has been there for 6 years teaching 200 students, band program grades 4-12, some classroom music K-4 and junior high general music, digital arts class and music theory at the high school, and one small elementary chorus.

What do you like best about being a music/art/drama/dance educator?

I really like the opportunity to use my organizational skills in an environment where I can also be creative. The music room is a great place to find a balance between hard and fast standards and finding numerous ways of meeting those standards. Twenty seven years of concerts with no two being the same, but every year I strive to provide every student with the same well rounded music education.

Tell me what you think are three keys to ANY successful arts ed program?

  •  a commitment to stretching the limits (your own and those around you)
  • a belief that what you do is important
  • enough confidence in your skills to take risks

What specific way(s) do your assessment practices tie into the success of your program?

Developing solid assessment practices sends the message to those around you that you believe your program is valuable and worthy of reflection. This instills a sense of importance in your students and as a result they strive to reach higher goals. I often say to my students – “who wants to belong to the good enough club”? An assessment is a tangible way for my students to prove the level they have attained, to themselves and others.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

There have been so many benefits to being part of the arts assessment initiative. The first that comes to mind is the great opportunity to network with other educators. It has also helped to keep assessment practices foremost in my daily teaching. With so many things to do each week, priorities become a necessity. Having weekly connections through the arts initiative wiki has ensured that assessments make my priority list.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’ve always believed that music is a gift that all students can and should receive. My classes have always been available to all students. I’m most proud of the moments when the reluctant musicians realized they did have musical talent.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?


Apple or PC?

Both – depends on the job I want to get done.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

Exceptional concerts are a reflection of hard work and determination. A good performance is often attributed to talent or “good” students. I believe even very young and inexperienced performers can present quality programs with hard work and determination.

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

Enjoy what you do. Focus on the positive forces in your environment and link arms with those who also have a positive outlook.

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

I would travel. I want to see the world and share those experiences with the people around me.

This is a link to the wiki that Alice created that includes her marvelous resources: If you have comments or questions for Alice please put them in the “comment” section below.

Thank you Alice for telling your story!


Elementary Assessment Webinar

March 26, 2012

March 14, 2012

Rob and Catherine

Rob and Catherine

Almost 25 educators participated in the second Maine Arts Assessment elementary webinar on March 14th that was re-scheduled since the first one held in January had a technology glitch and was not recorded.

Catherine Ring and Rob Westerberg did a fabulous job faciliating and their guests music teachers Barb Packeles and Alice Sullivan and art teacher Shannon Campbell shared experience and examples of assessment tools.

The participants were half music and half art teachers and 83% presently assess their students a lot with 16% assess a little. When it comes to comfort level assessing; almost 64%are very comfortable, 27% somewhat comfortable and 9% not at all.


Some of the challenges assessing students in the arts classroom include the following:

  • traveling classroom to classroom and in many cases school to school
  • standards based – translating grades to a standards based classroom
  • the number of students taught over a few days
  • hardly any time between classes

Advantages of assessing:

  • makes the learning goals clear
  • data driven world – holds us accountable and teacher can show how the teacher has done their job
  • documents how students are doing
  • 21st century teacher can exhibit the artifact of the learning
  • allows for student reflection
  • student designed assessments – effective strategy
  • provides for a more balanced curriculum when using the Maine Learning Results

This is just a small piece of the discussion that took place during the webinar.


To access the recorded webinar session please go to:

Catherine and Rob have put together a meeting plan that you can use during a teachers meeting. Bring your colleagues together and use the webinar archive and the meeting plan to help lead the discussion. You can access the meeting plan for this session and the other 4 webinars at




Arts Assessment Opportunities

January 3, 2012

Webinar, graduate course, regional workshops

The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative continues to provide professional development opportunities using a variety of modes of communication in different locations in Maine.

Webinar: Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 4th, 3:30 – 4:30 will be the next assessment webinar in the series: An Elementary Discussion: How in the World Can I Possibly Do This? This webinar will address the unique needs of elementary arts teachers. I hope you will join facilitators Rob Westerberg and Catherine Ring and their guests, teacher leaders Alice Sullivan (music educator) and Shannon Campbell (visual art educator). Also joining them will be music educator Barb Packales and myself.

To join the webinar go online to (sign in as “guest”). Conference Number: 1-866-910-4857, Passcode: 140893

Graduate course: Catherine Ring, Rob Westerberg, and teacher leader Jake Sturtevant will be teaching an arts assessment graduate course in different locations in Maine. They are excited to be sharing the many tools, strategies and resources on assessment with arts teachers.  Everyone is really busy, but this is a unique chance to take advantage of a reduced tuition of $750 for three graduate credits.  And, the courses have been approved by the Maine Department of Education for recertification. No matter where teachers are in their understanding of how to use assessment in the classroom, this course will give participants a chance to really “dig deeper” and try things out in the classroom with the support of colleagues and some fantastic instructors!

Dates and Locations:

  • January 13, 14 and March 16, 17, 2012: York High School, York (Visual Art K-12 and Music 7-12)
  • January 27, 28 and April 27, 28: Bangor (Visual Art K-12 only)
  • February 10, 11 and May 11, 12: Augusta (Visual Art K-12 and Music 7-12)

For Registration and Information, visit or call the New England Institute for Teacher Education at 207-367-5807.

Regional workshops: At the end of January are regional workshops being presented by three teacher leaders. More information will follow on these but please mark your calendars if you are unaware of these opportunities:

  • January 27: District 3 high school Honors Festival: Cony High School – Deb Large, facilitator
  • January 27: District 1 high school Music Festival: Noble High School – Jake Sturtevant and Matt Doiron, facilitators
  • January 27 or 28: District 2 high school Instrumental Festival: Oxford Hills High School – Bill Buzza, facilitator
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