Posts Tagged ‘Andrea Wollstadt’

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Wisdom from Maine Arts Educators

September 4, 2018

From the voices of veteran visual and performing arts educators on starting a new school year

Make it a delicious school year!

Whether you’re just starting to teach or you’ve been add it for 50 years or somewhere in between you might be excited out of your mind to start or having the back to school dreams and asking yourself “how the heck am I going to do this?!” or somewhere in between. I asked veteran teachers “what’s your message for new and veteran teachers starting off the school year?” Here they are – WORDS FROM THE WISE and EXPERIENCED! It’s an amazing, amazing (and amazing) collection. THANKS to everyone who contributed!

Collectively below is the wisdom of 654 + 65 years of teaching. These are not in any particular order!

Kate Smith – 20 years
Central School, South Berwick Music Educator, Grades PreK-3
-The first friends you should make are the secretaries and the custodians.
-Drink plenty of water.
-Advocate for transition time between classes (see above).
-Don’t take yourself too seriously.
-Take the time to know your students.
-Find an Arts mentor. (MALI teacher leaders are great!)
-Build/maintain/reach out to a network of teachers for a sense of community and just-in-time support.
-You are going to mess up and wish you could forget it all. Write it down instead. Some day it’ll make you laugh like crazy.

Jake Sturtevant – 13 years
Falmouth High School Music Educator
If there is one thing I have learned to do over the course of the time I have been teaching it is to breathe. The power of breath is so important, and it takes moments to do. I still have those feelings of being overwhelmed and always reaching for the surface of the water beneath the pile of to-dos and hope-to-dos, but now I just try to pause and take a breathe and allow that feeling to settle and often it moves further from me.

Jen Etter – 11 years
York Middle School Music Educator 
My biggest words of advice starting a new school year and something that I am attempting to be mindful of is to not lose sight of the big picture getting bogged down in the details. Education is ever changing and constantly evolving and that can be frustrating at times. Keep focused on the big picture and what you know to be important and always keep students at the center!
Patricia Gordan – 37 years
RSU#14 Windham Raymond, Music Educator
  1. I do not just teach music to children. I teach children through music.
  2. Whenever I get to the point where I begin to think I know what I’m doing, I gain more wisdom and realize I still don’t know what I’m doing. (Keeps me humble.)
  3. When I have a student who is a behavior challenge I try to get to know them better and build a relationship with them outside of class.
  4. Music is a vehicle for expressing all thoughts and emotions. It can be scary to share the sad and angry songs with students. Will I get negative feedback from parents? “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” is a song about death! Should I use it? Of course we should be tactful and careful, but songs in music class should cover all emotions.
  5. A musician must have the heart of a gypsy and the discipline of a soldier. -Beethoven – Some students will be really good at the heart thing and some will be really good at the discipline thing. Stretch them toward the other skill.
  6. Sometimes I have a hard time with the word, “fun.” Music is fun but it is also hard work. I want the students to have more than “fun.” I want to feed their souls. I want them to feel the natural high that comes from producing a fantastic product that is the result of extreme effort.
  7. Especially for elementary teachers – Listen very, very closely. The “music” is in there somewhere. 😊
Iva Damon – 10 years
Leavitt Area High School, Turner, Visual Art Educator
Going into this year I am really resonating with going “back to basics”. We’re here for the kids as they are at the heart of everything we do. Remembering that at the end of each day, I am able to make connections and help achieve steps in their learning. At the same time, this year I am going to work harder at self-care and making sure to take time for myself.
Holly Leighton – 10 years
Mattanawcook Academy, Lincoln, Visual Art Educator
Teaching is not something you learn and then implement for the next 30 years. It is a constant.

The more I learn the more I realize what I don’t know. It is the “what I don’t know” that drives me to learn more. This is how I grow as a person and educator. It is a continuous cycle that inspires a fresh outlook to each new school year. Take workshops and conference opportunities, no matter how long you have been teaching. After 20 years of teaching I am always come back with something I can use to positively affect student learning and engagement.

Cindi Kugell – 29 years
Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, South Paris, Visual Art Educator
Know your “Why”. When we focus on our reason for teaching, and for me it’s because there is nothing cooler than working with kids, it gives our lives purpose, clarity and focus. Working with kids keeps me young, inspired and energized and the gratification that I get from students excitement centered around the arts fuels my passion. I truly feel that teaching is my purpose.
Hope Lord – 28 years
Maranacook Community Middle School, Winthrop, Visual Art Educator
Each school year is a new opportunity for teachers to inspire students, innovate, take risks, collaborate, and celebrate the arts.
Adele Drake – 15 years
Hampden Academy Visual Art Educator
I believe in always being open to learning and receiving help and support from others.
Jane Snider – 26 years
Hancock Grammar School Art Educator
While working outside all day in my gardens to end my summer season I was thinking about all of my gardens, how much they had grown since early spring. I realized how much my teaching is like my gardening! Many plants are now in need of a rest, much like my students and I are in late Spring! I have nurtured the seedlings, plants and bushes throughout the season. I have carefully and thoughtfully helped them showcase their beauty! They’ll be back next year, bigger and brighter! Tomorrow I return to school to nurture my students and showcase the beauty of their learning through their art! I’ve had my rest and restored my spirit, I’m ready to carefully and thoughtfully begin a new season for my students! What do they need to grow and flourish?
Sue Barre – 25 years
Waterville Senior High School Music Educator 
Every year (on the advice of my first principal) I work to learn something about each of my students that has nothing to do with music. This process keeps me on my toes and it is also fun for my students to share their non music passions. I am often uplifted, sometimes saddened, and every so often astounded, to the response I can get from “share three things you did this summer.” My personal goal this year is to greet my students every day at the door……they deserve my attention, whether they are making music or not.
Carmel Collins – 20+ years
Lake Region High School, Naples, Dance Educator
Education today is like working with a living breathing organism. It is forever in a state of flux; morphing, refining, retracting, reshaping……Practice being flexible, adaptable and innovative, learn to let things go and move on, keep light on your feet and don’t get stuck in the mud!
When a parent or guardian becomes angry or frustrated with you, always remember that to them they are fighting for their child, a child they have loved and nurtured since birth. Most of the time they are not angry with you, rather it is the situation they are frustrated with and they are looking for help. Try to stay focused on the issue and don’t make it personal. Practice this and they will become your friend and loyal advocate.
Melanie Crowe –  16 years
Marshwood Middle School, Eliot, Visual Art Educator 
The anticipation of a new school year brings up so many emotions – a changing of the seasons, realizing summer is coming to an end, wiping sand off of my sandals for another season, and the vegetable garden bearing fewer treasures. Although, the excitement of meeting new students and having a chance to bring in a fresh approach and atmosphere to the classroom is a just as much a welcome adventure today as it was entering my first year 17 years ago. I am honored to share the art studio with my middle school artists, the opportunity to engage, challenge, and expand their minds is such a precious experience. The years go by in a blink of the eye, the students faces change, but the desire to light the flame of love for art grows stronger each year. I look forward to working with my colleagues integrating art in as many avenues as I can, bridging the gaps from one content to another so students can see how their learning is not in isolation but interconnected. When students can see how valued they are in the art studio, they begin to believe how valuable their art making experience is. I wish you all a wonderful school year working with the youth of Maine and beyond!
Lindsay Pinchbeck – 12 years
Sweetland School, Hope, Founder, Director, Teacher 
New Beginnings
An opportunity to start again
Still jitters – every year, conditioned since a child
Now knowing
The mix of wonder, unease and transition
Breathe
Fear not the unknown
Anthony Lufkin – 12 years
Friendship Village School, Prescott Memorial School, Union Elementary School, Rivers Alternative Middle School, RSU 40 
Every year is similar, but never the same. Each summer goes by faster and faster, but despite wish for more R&R, I always look forward to the new school year. Art and teaching are similar to me in that they are both all about making connections. In art we attempt to connect with artists of the past to understand their ideas, or we try to connect people with our own ideas and perspectives through creation. Teaching effectively requires making connections with students in a way that they can relate to, understand, and appreciate what we are teaching. If we lose connection, not only does artwork become insignificant to us, so does the purpose for learning. Each school year is an opportunity to make connections in new ways. Being in relatively the same position for several consecutive years gives me the insight for identifying ideas and processes that will relate to specific students. As I prepare to start my 12th year of teaching art, I am looking forward to “reusing” successful lessons, opportunities, and connections I have been able to make thus far.  However, I am also looking forward to experimenting with new ideas to better convey ideas, and give students new ways to understand, and more importantly connect, to what art has to offer.
Andrea Wollstadt – 20 years
John F. Kennedy Memorial School, Biddeford, Music Educator
Allow yourself to get caught up in the excitement. Students involved in music have a passion for music. Their joy and excitement is infectious. These kids are PUMPED UP about playing in an ensemble or participating in a music class. Whatever worries or anxieties you might have about the upcoming school year, make sure you give yourself a chance to catch some of their enthusiasm.
Lisa Marin – 22 years (and this is her last)
Jonesport-Beals High School & Jonesport Elementary Visual Art Educator     
Words of wisdom for the new teacher: I remember that first year being very excited, nervous and worried about doing a good job for my new students, the school system, and my colleagues. I tried to get as much input as I could from my fellow art teacher friends, who were very gracious and generous with advice and materials. I was told to relax, have fun, and realize that it takes a few years to make the program your own. So, cut yourself some slack and you’ll be great. Oh yes, and make friends with the custodial staff. Their help over the years has been invaluable.
Words of wisdom for the veteran teachers: It may sometimes be hard to keep up the energy and enthusiasm in the face of new and increasing demands on your time that have little to do with quality teaching for students. I’ve tried to combat this by finding ways to shake up my lessons. I’m looking for ways to incorporate materials I’ve been unfamiliar with or slightly intimidated by to blow out the cobwebs! It’s been fun and I often find I am helped in my success by my students. We say we are all in this together!
For the soon to be retiring teachers (like me): Plan ahead for what you’d like to do post retirement. That will make the transition so much easier. This sounds like a no brainer but is often overlooked. As much as you might love your job remember, you do the job, you aren’t the job. A new teacher’s approach can be wonderful. We were once new teachers as well with fresh ideas. Enjoy your new year!
Shalimar Chasse – 25 years
Wiscasset Middle High School Visual Art Educator rk Middle School Music Educator 
I like to start right off with hands on- avoiding the loooooonnnnnnnngggggggg and boring “expectations” talk that mostly sounds like “wha wha wha wha, wha wha, wha wha” to students just waking up after a summer of sleeping in until noon. I refer students to my on-line site and a unit binder that holds class expectation information. I send them home with a parent guide to art class and encourage them to review this with their parents and return with a parent note confirming their time together and comments or questions. I encourage students to ask me any question to help them acclimate to our space and class while we are doing our first day art activity. Students know what is expected, some need reminding or clarification or simply to know they might not get away with something they have tested. They come to art to Do art- so I like to meet their expectations hoping they might return the gesture.I love the newness of a brand new school year- with no mistakes in it. I like to think of the upcoming year and classes as the best we will experience yet.
Allie Rimkunas – 14 years en Etter
Great Falls Elementary School, Gorham, Visual Art Educator 
Love your students. The most difficult ones need the most love. As an art teacher, I rarely know the home situations, or past trauma that these little ones might have or are still dealing with. I try to keep that in mind when I know a difficult student is coming into my room. Every day is a new day and a possibility for new positive interactions.
I have been teaching for 14 years, and every August brings a new batch of school anxiety dreams. Never fails. I figure that if I didn’t get them then I am not doing my job and changing it up enough.
Catherine Ring – 65 years
Isle au Haut Visual ArtEducator 
Share your passion for learning with children. It’s contagious!
Jane Kirton – 20 years
Sanford High School Music Educator 
Be Compassionate . . . Be consistent . . . CommunicateBe compassionate – Music is one of the few subjects that connects the heart and the brain. Showing compassion towards my students and my colleagues is who I am. The world is filled with so much pain, we don’t know what our students are going through at home. I take great pride in the fact that from day one I tell my students that my classroom is their home and we are a family.  No bullying is allowed. If there is a drama free atmosphere in the room, our music will sound better!  Show you care, smile (even though you are a nervous wreck). Don’t forget to be kind to yourself.  Take care of you – exercise, drink plenty of water, yoga, anything to relieve stress.

Be consistent – Consistency, in my eyes, is critical in good parenting. Set your classroom code of cooperation on day one and stand by it! Treat everyone the same. Discipline can be challenging for a new teacher. Discipline allows a successful start for the entire class. I always remind myself I can always ease up a bit as we get into the year but hold firm to your rules. Keep up with the paperwork (yes, there are certain things we need to do as part of the job which doesn’t have anything to do with what we teach – just “get it done,” don’t put it off.)

Communication – I always tell my students that I’m not a mind reader. I encourage them to tell me what’s going on. It is also important to communicate with them and their parents – concert schedule, paperwork, etc. Communicating with your colleagues is also important. I recently read a post where a new teacher was critical of older teachers in their district in the ways they were teaching. Not a great way to start!  We’re all in this together. Reach out and communicate.  Communicate with your administration, janitors, secretaries, etc. Ask if you don’t know!!

Rob Westerberg – 32 years
York High SchoolMusic Educator 
It’s not about the product, it’s about the process. Precious few are going to remember your concert or art exhibit or play or dance recital three years from now. But dozens of years from now every single participant will remember their journey with you to create that product, and whether or not you caused them to flourish academically and blossom personally. If you take care of those two things – on a daily basis – the rest will take care of itself. Academic without personal is tedious. Personal without academic is cheating them. Both combined is spot-on and will leave you at the end of the day feeling like it was all worth while. Because it will have been.
Charlie Johnson – 44 years
Mount Desert Island High School Visual Art Educator 
Get to know your learners; it is through positive connections that a teacher can discover that which is not always overt from an individual. We are all unique and we are all special, and if you endeavor to learn about your students in a positive manner, it goes a long way toward developing a teacher/learner relationship that benefits both parties.
I’m just starting my 45th teaching year, and I’m just as excited about my new students and classes as I was my first year, because I haven’t fallen into “the same old thing” trap and have many new pieces to explore with my students!
Barbie Weed – 14 years
Gray-New Gloucester Middle School Visual Art Educator 
I always find that the best way to begin a new school year is to forge connections with students as soon as possible. Whether students are returnees for new to the school, taking a little time to get to know something about them sets a positive tone for the whole year. I’m excited for the new experiences that students will bring to my classroom.
Jean Phillips – 30+ years
Wiscasset Middle High School English and Drama Educator
Life is an occasion; rise to it.
Lisa Ingraham – 12 years
Madison Elementary School Visual Art Educator 
Plan meticulously, but keep your mind open to teachable moments. Some of the best learning experiences in my art room began with a student question, interest, and/or aha! that changed our direction for that day.
I’m looking forward to a great, creative, messy year!
MaryEllen Schaper – Retired in June with 42 years
Dance Educator 
Take your work seriously; don’t take yourself too seriously. The work is VERY important, but you can be replaced.
For new teachers, yes, you want to develop positive relationships with your students, but they are NOT your friends. If you need friends at work, develop friendships with your colleagues.
My former superintendent, used to say, “we are there to teach ALL children. Parents send us their best. They don’t keep “the good ones” home”.
We never know the baggage a student brings to school, so listen and be kind. Help students learn that that baggage may be a reason, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse by the student, the teacher, or the parent. There’s a difference.
Applicable Lin Manuel Miranda “Hamilton” quotes:
“Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room?” You might not be. I have learned A LOT from my students.
“I am not throwing away my shot.”  You have amazing opportunity to influence lives now and beyond anything in your wildest dreams, so go in EVERY DAY and give 100%.
“I am looking for a mind at work”. Teach your students to think outside the box, ask questions, and how to find answers, even if they might not be what you had in mind.
“Talk less. Smile more.”  Breathe. listen. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll see and hear.
“I wanna be in the room where it happens”.  You ARE in the room where it happens every day. Savor it. It goes by quicker than you’d think!
Lori Spruce – 10 years
Brewer High School Visual Art Educator 
Contribute to the knowledge and skills that you have not only in your own content area, but also expand out to involve your colleagues content areas as well. By doing so, you help not only yourself,  but also students and teachers can learn and grow in the same way. By getting out of your comfort zone and content area, the relationships that you build are invaluable and help build the confidence needed to model what you learn.
Pam Chernesky – 26 years
Mt. Blue High School, Farmington Visual Art Educator 
Start each school year open and ready to build a new community! Bring your best self and a positive attitude to what you do. Every year there will be new initiatives and demands on your teaching and your time, but the real focus should be meeting your students and sharing the excitement of creating and learning with them. Remember that you have content knowledge, passion, and experiences to share and that your students want to learn from you. Don’t become bogged down by the initiatives, administrative demands, or even the details of lesson plans. Offer challenges and take risks in your classroom! Laugh with your students!  Have fun!
Kris Bisson – 16 wonderful years!
Marshwood Middle School, Director of Choruses 
No matter what type of learners you have in your classroom, every student needs understanding.

When I’m excited about what I’m teaching, my students are excited about what I’m teaching!

Theresa Cerceo – 15 years
Dr. Levesque Elementary School & Wisdom Middle High School, MSAD # 33 Visual Art Educator
Trust your instincts, value your strengths and keep yourself open to learning new things.
Danette Kerrigan – 13 years
Sacopee Valley Middle School Visual Art Educator 
Every year is different, but poses the possibility of new discovery and greatness. Every year is the same – the same bright expectant eyes, sleepy heads, hugs and growth. Starting a new year is never boring, always keeping me on my toes, yet is as exciting as opening a new box of crayons… the possibilities are endless. Fashions change, expectations change, requirements change, students stay the same – still needing reassurance, encouragement, celebration and a champion.
For new and veteran teachers – breathe. Embrace each day and reflect at the end on what went well and be honest about what did not. Remember that everyone has something to offer, even those adults who may try your patience. They too, got up this morning, hoping to do the right thing. Assume good intentions. Always apologize – even to students – especially to students – when you have had a bad day and spoke shortly when you shouldn’t have. Remember that you are making an impact you don’t even know about yet.
Rick Osann – 15 years (retiring this year!)
Bonny Eagle High School Media, Theatre, and Visual Arts Educator 
Be sure to be yourself. Teaching can be really stressful and it’s easy to try to be different to either be the “perfect teacher” or to get your students to “like” you.  The most important thing is to feel comfortable in your own skin.  Students of any age recognize quickly if you’re not being true to your core beliefs. Students will respect you if you just be yourself.
Bill Buzza – 25 years
Edward Little High School Music Educator 

Some words of advice for the beginning of the year:

#1 – Take time to get organized. We get so busy and there are many demands on our time. Using an organizational system that works for you allows you to spend more time teaching.
#2 – (New teachers) Find a mentor and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s much more efficient to learn from others than trying to reinvent the wheel.

#3 – Don’t be afraid to say “No” but keep an approachable demeanor. Many times students try to learn / push a teachers limits. We need to be committed to our response and consistent so students know what to expect.

#4 – Build relations with everyone; students, administrators, parents, colleagues, custodians. There will be a time when those connections will pay great dividends.
What’s your advice to new and returning educators? Please email me yours and I will collect them for a future blog post. How will you include and support new teachers in your school/district? Please introduce them to the Maine Arts Education blog – its easy to subscribe (on the right side, half way down). And, invite them to join the community by joining the arts education list-serv by sending me their email address.
Before we get to the “wise words” from Maine, Nancy Flanagan taught K-12 music for 30 years in Michigan. She blogs for Education Week, the TEACHER section called TEACHER in a Strange Land (you may want to follow her on twitter) and on August 6 she wrote a post called Ten Non-Standard ideas About Going Back to SchoolIt’s worth the read (after you read what Maine arts educators have to say)!
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“Coffee in the Dark”

June 28, 2017

Album release, July 22

On Sunday while listening to public radio they played “Coffee in the Dark” by Maine musician, Rob Duquette. I remembered visiting the artist, while he was presenting a music program on “kindness” at a Maine elementary school. (For blog post from December 2015, CLICK HERE). I followed up with an email to Rob congratulating him on the song and the upcoming release of his album.

I’ve been aware that Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leaders Jake Sturtevant and Rob’s wife, Andrea Wollstadt join in Rob’s endeavors as well. I saw Andrea on Monday and she confirmed that she and Jake are both on the record. Below is the press release on the upcoming album. Pretty exciting for everyone involved! FMI on the album, CLICK HERE.

Some local musicians spend their entire careers as sidemen, backing up and sitting in as needed for band leaders and assorted singers. Saco resident Rob Duquette has made his career since the mid-1990s as a well respected and in-demand sideman, most notably as a member of Jonathan Edwards’  touring band. He has also regularly played with other notables like Jack Sonni (Dire Straits) and the legendary composer David Amram over the last 15 years.  He gained national attention as part of the jazz-folk-pop group “Cactus Highway” in the early 2000s, who the Boston Herald called “a duo of true sophistication,” and the Village Voice called, “amazing”.

But it wasn’t until the release of duquette’s first album “This Time” in 2014 that he finally stepped out of the shadows. With the release of duquette’s new 2017 album “Trust the Night”, he further comes into his own as both a writer and bandleader, forging an indie-folk, singer-songwriter sound while mixing in touches of his extensive jazz and world music background, “Trust The Night” showcases Duquette’s many musical talents in a way that he has not revealed before.

The new album features the multi-instrumentalist Duquette as well as a stellar backing band anchored by John Kumnick (Cyndi Lauper, David Bowie) on bass and Duquette’s high school bandmate Nick Luca (Iron and Wine, Sheryl Crow) on guitar and synths. Jonathan Edwards plays harmonica on several songs, and sings on “Coffee in the Dark”, a tale about a strong woman who leaves her privileged upbringing to forge her own way as a fish monger. Rob elaborates on one the new songs saying “the album features original stories of the human condition, taken from my daily observations…..most notably on ‘Perfect Stranger’ a song about the author’s teenage experience of sitting next to a random person on a plane trip, and discovering the kindness of strangers.”

Interestingly, Rob’s day job is bringing his original children’s music to schools, festivals and libraries across the northeast, spreading lessons of love and kindness. With this new album release, he hopes to turn the attention to leading his own four piece band and headlining club and theater gigs throughout New England.

“Trust The Night” will have an official CD release event on July 22 at One Longfellow Square in Portland Maine featuring the full band and special guests. It will be available exclusively at Bull Moose stores throughout Maine beginning on June 4.

“Rob is an amazing multi-instrumentalist, on percussion, guitar, vocals and whatever else he can fit in the van!”

-Jonathan Edwards

“Rob Duquette really knocked me out!”

-Legendary drummer Joe Porcaro

For fans of: Dawes, David Gray, Jackson Browne

For more info contact: Cornmeal Artist Management, Charlie Gaylord, 23 Canterbury Circle, Kennebunk ME 04043  – 207-967-3996 office – 207-294-1575 cell

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Great Day for Arts Education

March 28, 2016

Arts Ed Advocacy Day a success
IMG_2009 - Version 2On Thursday, March 24 the State House in Augusta was mobbed with students articulating what the arts mean to them, individually and collectively. Their messages were clear and legislators from all regions of Maine were listening.

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Biddeford Intermediate School Select Chorus under the direction of music educator and MALI Teacher Leader, Andrea Wollstadt

Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) directed by Susan Potters accompanied by many hands to organize the day. CONGRATULATIONS Susan! About 200 students representing elementary, middle, and high school were scheduled to meet with the representatives and senators from their regions.

Following the meetings students gathered in the Hall of Flags where there were performances and many were engaged in singing, dancing, poetry reciting, and visiting county tables with arts education information.

 

In Susan’s words, from MAAE website:

IMG_2003After the legislators themselves came downstairs a formal program included remarks by Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education, William Beardsley; Maine Arts Commission Arts Education Director, Argy Nestor; Farnsworth Museum Education Director, Roger Dell; Maine Resilience Building Network Co-facilitator, Sue Mackey Andrews; and Arts Education Program Manager at Americans for the Arts, Jeff Poulin. There were also student performances by the Biddeford Intermediate School Select Chorus, conducted by Andrea Wollstadt, by a Bangor High School English class working with teaching artist Katenia Keller, that had choreographed a piece collaboratively, and an art advocacy group speaking piece performed by SLAM! from SAD 33 in Aroostook County, directed by Theresa Cerceo.

It was a full day! But this Advocacy Day’s significance as a day of firsts was in the students themselves… not only in their sheer number (a first for the State House), but also as a statewide gathering of students involved in all art forms – visual art, music, dance, theater and poetry – meeting each other and feeling empowered. So this day was a first, but it wasn’t the last!

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Makayla and Cayden, students from Marshwood High School with music educator and MALI Leadership Team member Kate Smith are all smiles at Arts Ed Advocacy Day!

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Student Leaders in the Arts Movement (SLAM) presenting during the program.

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Senator Brian Langly, co-chair of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee speaks to students in the Hall of Flags.

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Maine Department of Education Visual and Performing Arts Specialist Beth Lambert, music educator at Central Elementary School Kate Smith, and art educator from Dr. Levesque Elem, Wisdom Middle/High School, MSAD #33, Theresa Cerceo. Both Kate and Theresa are members of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Leadership Team.

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Standards-Based Arts Classrooms Videos

July 23, 2013

Music and Art classrooms featured

You asked for it and now you’ve got it… during this past school year the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) created 4 videos in response to “What do visual and performing arts classrooms look like in a standards-based environment?” That question came up over and over during the first phase of MAAI so we decided to incorporate the search as part of phase 2. The MAAI has continuously listened to the needs of the field and this is one of those “asks” that we responded to.

Debi Lynne Baker taught visual art for many years and most recently K-12 in Greenville. She used technology in her teaching including movie making with her students. She was the perfect person to create the first 4 videos. With hours of footage taken at each school, Debi was able to edit and come up with 4 unique videos under 20 minutes that each tell a story. What you will learn is that there is NO ONE answer to the question and you will also find that the videos provide so much more than just answers to the question!

As we consider creating more videos as part of phase 3 we’d love to hear your feedback on the videos. Please post your comment on the blog or email me at argy.nestor@maine.gov. Thanks!

See for yourself the following MAAI videos at the Maine ARTSEducation YouTube channel located at http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-lElK9bBU_o96Wrg-kNbeg

  • Part I: York High School Music Program with Rob Westerberg, students and colleagues
  • Part II: Hancock Grammar School Art Program with Jane Snider, students and colleagues
  • Part III: Mount Desert Island High School Art Program with Charlie Johnson, students and colleagues
  • Part IV: Biddeford Intermediate School Music Program with Andrea Wollstadt, students and colleagues

You will find other arts education videos on the Maine ARTSEducation channel created by MAAI participants.

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Another Arts Student’s Story: Izaiah Stackpole

May 24, 2013

Grade 5 student

IMG_1230Izaiah Stackpole is a 5th grade student at the Biddeford Intermediate School. His music teacher is Andrea Wollstadt, one of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leaders. The following is an interview with Izaiah that happened as a follow-up to a recent visit to the Biddeford Intermediate School. Debi Lynne Baker and I were visiting to video tape Andrea in her music classroom. You will see Izaiah in the video in the near future.

What value do you see in taking a music and theatre classes?

Music expresses how I feel and I have fun doing it. Theater is important to me because it brings out my inner-self and music helps with it too.

Name three skills, ideas, or life-long tools that you have learned in your arts classes? 

  1. I have learned you don’t need to be afraid to sing or act in front of tons of people.
  2. In art I have learned to express myself.
  3. I learned how to re-write songs, and count rhythms in musical notation.

What is your favorite part of the being involved in the arts?

My favorite part of theater is when you get to be the character and you get to be in someone else’s life.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of singing a solo in chorus, being able to play percussion without stumbling, being able to do lines in front of tons of people.

Did anyone encourage you to be involved in the arts?

Ms. Wollstadt encouraged me to take chorus, and my sister encouraged me to take chorus too. Who provides the greatest support for the work you now do and how do they support you? My Mom and my sister support me the most.

How does your work in the arts support and develop creativity for you?

In theater when you stumble on a line you have to use improvisation. One time I was in Beauty and the Beast – I was Gaston. I had to fight with someone and my wig fell off! The other character and I made up our lines to cover it up.

If you could change any part of your arts education, what would it be?

I would take more theater and chorus classes.

What are you plans as far as continuing your study of the arts?

When I go to middle school I’ll start chorus, band and theater. I hope to take an art class too.

Thank you Izaiah for taking the time to answer the questions for this interview.

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My Last Two Weeks

May 10, 2013

What an adventure!

Some weeks are filled with excitement and adventure and some weeks are filled with excitement and adventure – yes, I repeated that since all my weeks are pretty amazing! However, my most valuable days are when I am visiting teachers and students, learning about the work that is going on in the arts in Maine schools. I am always interested in what teachers are doing with curriculum, assessment, and arts education in general! What I hear and what I see keeps me grounded in what is “real” for Maine arts education. When I do my work at the Department it is first and foremost in the best interest of all Maine kids and their visual and performing arts education. I feel so fortunate to have this job that takes me to all corners of the state. Thank you for the invitations!

During the last two weeks I have had the chance to go to the following:

  • Ashley Smith (Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leader) and Mike Scarpone, music teachers at Brunswick High School invited me to speak at their Tri-M Music Honor Society induction ceremony. I was very impressed with the music and the students. Bridget Horan, Chanel Thibeault, Ariel Bouchard, and Joe Waring played the National Anthem to start the program. Throughout the program there were student performances including: Tessa Hauptman was accompanied on the piano by Ben Flanagan. Hannah Judd played the cello. Joe Waring played the saxophone accompanied by Nathaniel Vilas on the piano. Alexis Gillis sang accompanied by Ben Flanagan on the piano. Walter Martin played the trombone accompanied by Nathaniel Vilas on the piano. Nathaniel Vilas ending the evening on the piano. It was wonderful to hear the present members (15 of them) introduce the inductees (21 of them). As these type of ceremonies go, it was very formal however, the students humor shined through which brought several chuckles to members of the audience. Afterwards, parents and students enjoyed refreshments in the cafeteria. Thank you Brunswick Tri-M students and Ashley and Mike for including me.

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  • Last week I was invited to meet with the arts staff from the Gorham schools. In the Gorham schools they rotate updating curriculum and arts educators are starting this important work. Assistant middle school principal Susie Hanley has been communicating periodically during the last year with questions and information on the work of the Gorham arts teachers. It was great to have a chance to hear discuss their work and the challenges it poses. I did get a photo at the end but it was after some of the teachers had already left the meeting. Thank you to Susie for inviting me!

The teachers include:

  • Gail Thibodeau, Music  K-5, Narragansett and Village
  • Janelle Mosey, Music and Chorus  K-5, Great Falls
  • Allie Rimkunas, Art 1-5, Great Falls
  • Paula Balcom, Art 1-5, Narragansett and Village
  • Amy Stewart, Music K-5, Narragansett
  • Vicki Bove, Art  6-8, Gorham Middle School
  • Amy Cousins, Art 6-8, Gorham Middle School
  • Tracy Wheeler, Music and Chorus 6-8, Gorham Middle School
  • Kim Mathieu, Music and Band  6-8, Gorham Middle School, 5th grade Band
  • Chris Crosby, Art 9-12, Gorham High School
  • Sarah Tucker, Art 9-12, Gorham High School
  • Matt Murray, Music and Chorus 9-12, Gorham High School
  • Tim Ebersold, Music and Band 9-12, Gorham High School

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  • Gray-New Gloucester High School art exhibit was held last week in the auxiliary gym on the same evening that the students were performing the comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner. It was great to see Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leader Barb Weed (Barb’s Another Arts Teacher’s story) on my way in to the school. After I arrived Waterville High School art teacher Suzanne Goulet dropped in to see the show. The gym was completely filled with outstanding 2 and 3 dimensional art work and it was great to see art teachers Sarah Gould and Michaela DiGianvittorio. Talk about proficiency?! The evidence was clear! Thanks for inviting me to a great show!
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Sarah, Argy, Michaela

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  • This week I’ve had more opportunities to visit schools. Debi Lynne Baker and I were at Biddeford Intermediate School to videotape Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leader, music teacher Andrea Wollstadt. (Andrea’s Another Arts Teacher’s story). The last of a series of 4 that Debi is creating showing standards based arts classrooms in action. We had a great day in Andrea’s 4th and 5th grade classes. Her superintendent, Jeremy Ray, popped in to give her an apple for Teacher Appreciation Week. We interviewed Andrea’s principal Debra Kenney, music colleague Jillian Cote, and two of her students. Thanks to the students and staff at Biddeford Intermediate School!
  • I visited Belfast High School and Troy Howard Middle School and the classrooms of Heidi O’Donnell and Lynnette Sproch. Heidi has a lesson where students wrote an artist statement after research and created an artwork that depicted the style of the artist. They were created in small shadow-like boxes. The pieces were fascinating to look at and really made me think. I was glad to see the “man coming out of the ceiling” in real life that Lynnette had created with her middle school students. I also stopped to see my dear friend science teacher John Thurston who is responsible for the garden program at the middle school. It is always great to see John who works with Lynnette on integrated units. You might remember the one that they did on creating posters for the Belfast coop. They were beautiful with bright red giant tomatoes and a great example of service learning. I stopped to see theatre teacher Jason Bannister who caught me up on the event they just held at the school for middle level theatre students – Maine Student Acting competition. Thanks for the visit to both schools!
  • I traveled up the coast to Hancock Grammar School and stopped to see Maine Arts Assessment art teacher leader Janie Snider (Janie’s Another Arts Teacher’s story). We critiqued the video that Debi has created of Janie in action earlier this spring.  We spent some time talking about the idea of writing “power standards” and perhaps rubrics to make available for all arts teachers. What do you think of the idea? Thanks for “great food for thought” Janie!
  • Onto Machias and the Rose Gaffney School to visit Maine Arts Assessment music teacher leader Bonnie Atkinson. (Bonnie’s Another Arts Teacher’s story). When I arrived her middle and high school band were rehearsing their pieces for the spring concert. Bonnie has many thought provoking sayings in her classrooms. I loved hearing the students practice and I also had a chance to listen to the chorus practice before I left for the Washington county superintendents meeting at University of Maine at Machias. Thanks for letting me pop in Bonnie! The artwork everywhere in the halls is stunning.

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Andrea Wollstadt

February 26, 2013

This is the 20th in a series of blog posts telling arts teacher’s stories. The first 19 were told last year by the phase I Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leaders. The  series continues with the stories from the phase II teacher leaders. These posts contain a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read educators stories and to learn from others.

Andreaphoto2Andrea Wollstadt teaches general music to grades K, 4, and 5 and when the schedule allows she conducts a children’s choir. Andrea has been teaching music for 16 years and has taught every grade level- from Kindergarten to college-age students, and every music-education subject: band, chorus and general music. She presently works in the Biddeford School District where she has been teaching for 5 years. Andrea is one of those super teachers who sees approximately 600 students once a week.

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

I absolutely love helping students discover what they are passionate about in music. Some students are real performers – they love to sing and dance in front of an audience. Other students are much more reserved – they enjoy writing music. I also have students who are very physical–they love drumming and finding the beat through movement. Helping students find that one thing in music they really connect with – that is the reason I teach!

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. Flexibility – I believe you have to be flexible. What works in one school may not work in another. You have to look at each school, and the culture of the school, and figure out what will be the best possible program for students.
  2. K-12 collaboration – There needs to be a connection between all music staff K-12. Musically educating students does not stop when they leave your classroom! I think it’s important to look at the entire K-12 program and make sure it all makes sense and works together to create the most effective program. In my current position I am at an extreme disadvantage because I see students in kindergarten, and then not again until 4th grade. I work very hard with the music teachers in grades 1-3 and middle school. We make sure the transition from school to school is seamless. We have similar philosophies, we use similar language, and we have had many discussions on standards.
  3. Personal connection – I believe developing a personal connection with every student is THE most important aspect of teaching for any subject and all grade levels. This task can be quite daunting for arts teachers. I currently see between 550-600 students once a week! I want to get to know my students as much as possible. What kind of music do they like? Are they a fan of Katy Perry or Eminem? Are they more interested in performing, or do they like individual composition projects? It’s so important to get a sense of who they are!

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Assessment allows me to take my classes from enrichment to education. If I never assessed my students I would never know where they are in their skills, and then I would not know how or what to teach them. The skill level in any of my classes varies greatly. I need to assess students so I can differentiate my instruction. I can offer more challenging activities for gifted students and easier activities for students who struggle. Assessment also allows me to figure out exactly how to help the students who struggle. If a student is not singing on pitch I need to figure out – are they above or below the pitch? Is this more of an ear-training problem or a vocal problem? OR is this possibly a student who has the ability to sing on pitch but does not demonstrate this ability in class due to shyness? Assessment can help me answer these questions and remedy the problem.

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

I think of the assessment initiative as a giant “think-tank.” The biggest benefit to me has been the exposure to new ideas and perspectives from other arts teachers. I love all the creative ideas generated from our meetings and discussions. Even though I am a music teacher I am not really a creative thinker. I am much more of a concrete “black and white” type thinker. I really rely on other teachers for inspiration. The assessment initiative has provided that.

What are you most proud of in your career?

My technology skills. I have to say this–my sister is an audio engineer in Nashville and she would laugh hysterically if she new I was bragging about my technology skills! (I guess it’s all relative.) I am certainly no “techie,” but when I started teaching music I had ZERO skills and ZERO equipment. Over the years I’ve learned how to advocate for the equipment I really need. I have also taken classes and basically pestered people to help me learn what I needed. I am now a self-professed “Garage-Band Queen.”

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

Time, Time, TIME!! There is never enough time with ANY of my students. The once a week classes are never once a week. There are constant interruptions to the schedule and most of the time I’m lucky if I see a class 3 times in a month. There’s never enough time to teach all the things I want/need/should be teaching!

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

I really work hard every year to get to know each and every student. I learn all their names, I learn what kind of music they like, and I try and learn a few things about them. Whenever possible I make connections outside of our music classroom. I attend evening functions like family night, literacy night, etc. I also attend Winterfest, Chalk-on-the-walk, and other Biddeford activities. If I see my students in the grocery store I always walk over to chat for a few minutes.

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

Find the joy in the day to day activities and don’t sweat the small stuff. Take the time to stop and chat with kids, really listen to them sing (even if it is a JustinBieber song!) I get great joy when they get excited about musical things. Revel in that joy and look for it in each day.

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

Easy – build a state of the art music studio on our property next to our house. My husband and I would use the studio for recording and private lessons. We would also use the money to outfit the studio with top of the line instruments.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

No. My days as an elementary music teacher are never boring. I wouldn’t change a thing!

Thank you Andrea for telling your story!

 

 

 

 

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