Posts Tagged ‘art teacher’



December 5, 2017

Share a story

I received an email from a former student last week who is teaching art at York High School. David Shenett was moved to action after a conversation with his mother about Jacob Thompson. What follows is the story of how York High School students responded. Thank you David for sharing!

The story of Jacob Thompson, the young boy whose only wish was to experience a final Christmas and receive as many Christmas cards as he could, made national headlines. Thousands of cards and notes of support came from around the nation. Police came from all over New England to deliver cards to this little boy who had little time left. 
While talking with my mom on the phone about this, she asked me “What do you plan to do?”
I responded that I wasn’t sure what she meant. She said: “You are an art teacher. Where are your cards?”
It hadn’t occurred to me.
The next day I explained Jacob’s story to all of my students – my Art 1 classes, my Ceramics classes, my sculpture classes, all my classes. Many of the kids had heard of Jacob and had even thought about making a card for him. That day we all made cards. We painted, we folded, we drew, we threw penguins everywhere we could. Other classes in other parts of our school heard what we were doing and contributed their own cards. And they wrote – unprompted – some of the most heartfelt wishes for a Merry Christmas and support and good wishes I’d ever heard. The true power of art was on full display and the kids ‘got it’. They saw what art can do for the soul and for others. Looking at the stack and having experienced the tremendous enthusiasm and energy the kids exhibited that day, I was moved to tears. I have a little boy about Jacob’s age. As a teacher, I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of a group of kids.
That evening I made the trip to Maine Medical Center to deliver our box of cards from York High School. The nurses were very impressed with the artistry some of the cards had, and they promptly brought our box into Jacob’s room where he was sleeping.
Jacob had his Christmas and soon passed away. He received thousands of cards and gifts. Maybe other schools did the same thing?  Did he even see ours? Who knows? But what we did will be something I will never forget. 
I just wanted to share this, especially as we near the time of the year where we put other ahead of ourselves and express, sometimes visually, what they mean to us.

Monhegan Residencies

February 18, 2017

Open to Maine Artists and Teachers – Deadline March 17

Photo by Bradley Beukema; 2016 resident and art teacher Krisanne Baker night painting on Monhegan.

2016 resident and art teacher Krisanne Baker night painting on Monhegan.

MONHEGAN—The Monhegan Artists’ Residency is pleased to announce its 2017 residency programs. Residencies are available to Maine-based visual artists during the weeks of May 27 to June 30, and September 2 to October 7. To accommodate the summer schedule of Maine K-12 teachers, there is also a two-week residency from July 2 to 14 open exclusively to art teachers. Applications are now being accepted online at through March 17.

Krisanne Baker, art teacher at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, was the 2016 Monhegan Art Teacher Resident. The body of paintings she produced during her two weeks on the island depict land, ocean and expansive skies at night that include planets and constellations.  She often worked outdoors at night wearing small LED lights, with her color palette laid out in consistent, planned manner so as to know what to reach for in partial darkness.

Krisanne Baker Little Spruce Sentinel at Lobster Cove, 2016, Oil on panel, 24 x 24 inches

Krisanne Baker Little Spruce Sentinel at Lobster Cove, 2016, Oil on panel, 24 x 24 inches

In addition to making a body of paintings during her two-week residency, she also did some underwater filming for her next water art activism short.  This continues her way of combining many of her interests through her art practice, her teaching and her environmental work focusing on protecting water sources and water quality.  She is involved with the Medomak Valley Land Trust and engages her high school art students in environmental work. Krisanne is currently showing her work at Husson University in an exhibition titled ‘Water is Life’: Art & Science on behalf of our oceans (January 20 – March 31, 2017). See more about Krisanne at

Krisanne Baker working on the deck of her Monhegany residency studio, 2016

Krisanne Baker working on the deck of her Monhegany residency studio, 2016

Not just for landscape painters, the Monhegan Artists’ Residency is open to artists working in new media, photography, sculpture, drawing, painting, and multi-media. This year’s jurors include Chris Stiegler, curator, art historian, and chair of the MFA in Studio Art at the Maine College of Art, Portland; Hilary Irons, artist, and co-founder/curator of Able Baker Contemporary, Portland; and Kelly Finlay, a Monhegan Artists’ Residency board member and museum educator at the Farnsworth Museum of Art, Rockland.

Founded in 1989, the Monhegan Artists’ Residency program is a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by donors, art galleries, corporate sponsors, and foundation grants.     

Photos taken by Bradley Beukema.  


So Long Ken Martin

April 3, 2016

High School Art Educator

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 5.08.14 PMRecently I attended a reception to celebrate the life of my colleague Ken Martin who taught art at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro. How appropriate to have Ken’s reception at the Granite Gallery in Tenants Harbor where Works From a Whole Life exemplified how prolific Ken was – the depth and breath are beyond words. On display were photos and drawings from his childhood, of and by him, all the way through until he passed in February. When Ken found out that he had ALS he started a series of self-portraits that document his feelings. They are a stunning collection that could have stood alone and been monumental. But instead, they were part of a collection of prints, photographs, and drawings from his whole life, that are magnificent. This world lost a wonderful artist and gentle soul and teacher. He touched my life as a colleague and friend. I am fortunate to know that he touched both my sons lives as their photography teacher. The seeds he planted will continue to grow!

You may read Ken’s entire obituary at


Carol Trimble Award

October 14, 2015

Congratulations Charlie Johnson!

IMG_0360At the Biennial Statewide Arts Education Conference The Measure of Success Visual and Media Arts Educator Charlie Johnson was very surprised when he was presented the Carol Trimble award. It was a wonderful moment and a well deserved Charlie, appeared stunned. Present were not only visual and performing arts colleagues from across the state, but his principal Matt Haney and many of his family members surprised him as well.

The following was read during the presentation:

The Carol Trimble Award is presented for Exemplary Service to Education. This coveted awarded has only been presented four times in its history. Established in 2011 to honor Carol Trimble who served as the Executive Director of the Maine Alliance for Arts Education. Carol worked tirelessly for many years advocating for quality arts education for all students.

The recipient of this award exemplifies the ideals that Carol held in high esteem – doing outstanding work continuously to provide opportunities for all students and working collaboratively with other teachers, administration, community members, parents, and most importantly students.

IMG_0361This person has been a Teacher Leader since MALI started in 2005. He is a true leader – sharing his knowledge – listening and leading – he co-presented with his students, with a teaching colleague and one with his principal. I pick up the phone when I need an opinion on a topic and ask for his advice. Charlie Johnson, please come forward to accept the Carol Trimble award.

From Dan Stillman, Charlie’s colleague at Mount Desert Island High School: Charlie is my art teacher superhero! He is an exemplary educator who “exceeds the standard” for arts advocacy in our school and across the state. He is only “approaching standard”, however, when it comes to waiting for proficiency-based education to replace old-school grading. He is ready for an educational paradigm shift NOW! I’d place Charlie in the top 1% of his class, give him an A++ for effort and offer him extra credit for being fun to work with!


Charlie’s family comes up to congratulate Charlie!

From the Secretary of State Matt Dunlap: I was thrilled to hear you were named the recipient of the Carol Trimble Award for Exemplary Service to Arts Education. Growing up in the art world in a household of skilled craftsmen, I always appreciated your pragmatic understanding of what art is and what it does for people, and how important the creative process is to every aspect of our lives. You clearly convey that to your students, and I have no doubt it makes them bolder, more thoughtful and hopeful citizens because of your teachings.

Charlie’s students said this about him: Way-Dedicated, Funky, Passionate, Super-duper-knowledgeable, Hip, Entertaining, Has high expectations and is a total Renaissance Man!

I am proud to call Charlie a colleague and a friend and so grateful that he has chosen arts education to dedicate his career to. Please join me in thanking Charlie Johnson from Mount Desert Island High School for his total commitment to education.



Charlie says a few words after accepting his award.



Charlie’s family is part of the surprise. Here they are waiting in the lobby at Point Lookout Conference Center for the right moment.

Thanks to Heidi O’Donnell and Catherine Ring for the photos.


Art Teacher Goes to Space

August 23, 2015

Worcester East Middle School art teacher

Two teachers are prepping for a NASA mission. Setting an example of working hard in life to fulfill goals. What an example art teacher Stacy Lord is setting for her students. Check out the story, flying on Sophia!/news/new-england/Mass–Middle-School-Teachers-Gearing-up-for-NASA-Mission/322216081.


Job Openings

June 21, 2014

Recently posted

If you or someone you know is looking for a position in arts education here are some to take a closer look at:

  • Reach Performing Arts Center Director, Deer Isle. Interested candidates may contact the Superintendent’s Office, School Union 76, Deer Isle, for an application. Deadline, July 7.
  • Brunswick High School art teacher. Interested candidates may send a resume, cover letter and recommendations to the Superintendent’s Office, Brunswick School Department.
  • SAD#40 elementary art position. Applications are available at or by calling 785-2277. Completed application should be mailed to Superintendent of Schools, PO Box 701, Union, ME 04862.
  • Office Manager Position, Waterfall Arts in Belfast, 30 hours/week, Tuesday-Friday. The office manager is in charge of generating and maintaining all office systems and organization. Duties include managing rental contracts, data-base management, coordinating materials and logistical support for meetings, events, and classes in addition to general office duties. Must have a minimum of 2 years of office management experience.  Email your letter of interest and resume to with Office Manager Position in the subject line. Deadline for applications is Wednesday, June 18.






Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Lisa Ingraham

June 17, 2014

Madison Elementary School art teacher

This is the 12th blog post for 2014 and the third phase of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) of this series sharing arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. Lisa has been a teacher leader during phase 3 of the MAAI.

IMG_3439Lisa Ingraham is a Kindergarten-4th Grade Visual Arts teacher in MSAD 59. She has been teaching all 260 of the students at Madison Elementary School for the past 3 years. She has been teaching art for 9 (!) years, all at the elementary level. Her students attend 50 minute art classes once per week throughout the school year. Lisa joined the MAAI has a teacher leader during the third phase. Lisa and her program are highlighted this year in one of the 8 arts classrooms videos being created that highlight standards-based/student-centered learning. Phase 3 videos are almost complete, phase 2 videos can be viewed by clicking here.

What do you like best about being an arts educator?

My favorite part of being an arts educator has always been working with every student in my school. This is my third year as the K-4th grade art teacher at Madison Elementary School. I have gotten to know each of the students here, their strengths, their preferences, and their quirks. As I have gotten to know more about my students, I have developed an even deeper appreciation for them as uniquely creative individuals.

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

  1. Passion for your content – I firmly believe in the power of the arts to change lives.
  2. Compassion for your learners – Each of my students approaches art in their own way. It is my job to make it meaningful for all of them.
  3. Support from your school and community – I would not be able to do what I do effectively without the support of my administrators, colleagues, and the parents of my students.

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

I have found assessment to be critical in helping my students understand what they are learning and why, and how it all connects to their classroom goals and the world outside our school. As I have examined and modified the types of assessment I use the focus has shifted from discrete skills and bits of knowledge to helping students think about the bigger picture. Assessment, while helping me determine where we are going in the art room, has also kept me focused on providing depth for the students within our lesson and units.

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

The examples set by the incredible leaders, and teacher leaders I have met through the MAAI helped me understand that really good arts programs don’t happen by accident. Really good arts programs are driven by teachers who believe in what they are doing and are willing to work hard to create them. Thank you all for sharing your passion and knowledge! You have helped me realize that no one knows my art program better than me, and if I am going to make it the best program for my students I need to speak up and say, “this is what we are learning, and this is why it is important.”

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

Time is always a factor, as are resources. But I think some of the biggest hurdles I have had to get over have been the narrow expectations of others. While I am working to change this, the perception of the arts as their own isolated content area that will only truly benefit those students who become visual arts professionals limits the types of learning that others can imagine taking place through the visual arts. This affects the importance placed on the arts, their position in the school, and the resources allotted to them.

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

I love my job! I don’t “go to work” in the morning. I rarely think about it like that. I get to go to school and spend the whole day making art with young students. I feel incredibly lucky. However, I also know the years of work that went into switching to this – my second – career, and the work I’ve committed to in trying to bring the best visual arts education to my students.

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

When I went back to school to become an art teacher I had this idea that I was going to teach art. This was my loftiest aspiration: To Teach Art. The reality as it has turned out is that I teach kids. Side by side with art content I teach listening skills, how to be kind and responsible, how to work toward a goal and be persistent, how to appreciate the ideas and opinions of others, and how to learn from so-called mistakes.

My first professor in the very first education class I attended shared with us the old adage that “students won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” My students have confirmed this again and again, which leads me to my answer for the question…

What are you most proud of in your career?

Reaching students who appear at first glance to be unreachable. Some students take longer to trust that they are allowed to be who they are and express themselves creatively in the art room, but these are the students I am sure I will remember well after they leave me. I am thankful to the teachers who work closely with these students every day and have been very generous with their time in helping me make the connections necessary for them to have the successes they do in the art room.

If you were given a $500,000 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

I am not really sure what I would do with all the money, but I know my school would have one absolutely incredible art program! (And I would probably still get really excited about finding the best “art supply” at a yard sale or discount store.)

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

I hope not. One of my students’ favorite stories is “Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes.” I don’t currently have an art lesson I would like to go with it, but I love reading and singing the book with my students anyway. The best part is sharing the moral of the story, which I tend to repeat A LOT over the course of the school year: “No matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song… because it’s all good.”


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