Posts Tagged ‘arts education’

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November Gifts

November 12, 2022

Theatre – alive and well in Maine high schools

One of the best parts about November is that high schools across Maine provide opportunities for students to perform in theatre productions. The added benefits to our state are many! People of all ages can engage in stories, some old and classic, and some newer. The community including parents, children, seniors, retired folks and anyone who lives in the town where the school is located, as well as surrounding towns, have a chance to watch, listen and learn as teens take to the stage. There aren’t many opportunities during a school year for citizens to enter our school buildings. These performances can serve as advocacy for not only theatre programs but dance, music, and visual art since all of the arts are often utilized through the theatre production.

The skills and experiences gained through participation in theatre productions are not learned elsewhere!

CONGRATULATIONS…

…to all the high schoolers taking part in plays. I know that to give your best performance you have practiced for many days and weeks which amount to many hours while still keeping up with attending classes and doing homework. You’ve worked individually and with your peers practicing lines, your position on stage with how and where and when to move. You have collaborated with teachers, actors, light and sound students, costume and make up people. Your success relies on the commitment and cooperation of a huge number of people.

THANK YOU…

…to all the educators who give opening of their time after the normal school day to support the many students who participate in the theatre program. I know we have some Maine schools with theatre teachers who provide classes during the day that contribute to the production but most are doing this work after school. Your patience, kindness, and influence inspiring theatre students is amazing.

SUPPORT…

We know that it takes many people beyond the actors and teachers who help support the production in many different ways. Thank you to all of you lovers of the theatre and students who participate. I encourage everyone reading this blog post to attend a play going on at your local high school. Nothing like a full house to feel appreciated when performing!

The following are a few of the plays that are taking place in the next couple of weeks. If you are aware of others please email me at meartsed@gmail.com and I’d be glad to add them to this blog post. Thanks!

Thornton Academy, Saco presents The Odyssey. MORE INFORMATION!

Camden Hills Regional High School presents Mamma Mia! MORE INFORMATION!

Medomak Valley High School, Waldoboro presents Hello Dolly! MORE INFORMATION!

Waterville Senior High School presents Momma Mia! LEARN MORE!

Belfast High School present Grease. MORE INFORMATION!

Orono High School presents Mamma Mia! MORE INFORMATION!

Mount Desert Island High School presents Oliver! MORE INFORMATION!

Break a leg!

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Remembering Jason Anderson

October 23, 2022

Maine has lost an arts education champion

We are fortunate in Maine to have had many arts education giants over the years. Some at the local level, leading conversations, at the regional level providing leadership and at the state level influencing conversations and policy. This week Maine arts educators lost a champion, an individual who had experience in all three arenas. Jason Anderson, age 41, passed away much too early. At the beginning of his career he taught music for 14 years in Vermont and Maine. His teaching experience plus his graduate degree in curriculum and instruction prepared him well for his employment at the Maine Department of Education (DOE). Jason started at the DOE not long before the outbreak of Covid and he rose to the challenges and provided multiple opportunities, clear communication and supported educators in every way possible. His ongoing work was done with enthusiasm and he was totally committed. Jason was greatly appreciated and will be missed!

Jason’s funeral is on Saturday, October 29, 10:00 a.m. at the Military St. Baptist Church, 308 Military St., Houlton. His obituary can be found at THIS LINK.

Jason Anderson
December 21, 1980 – October 19, 2022
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Meet Mia

July 6, 2022

Mia Bogyo, Education Programs Manager, CMCA

I was so happy to have a lengthy conversation with Mia Bogyo and to learn her story. Mia has a bubbly personality and is an enthusiastic creative person who approaches each task at hand positively. When Mia smiles it is with her whole being. She is totally committed to her work in art education and applies her energy so everyone benefits. Her story…

Mia Bogyo uses the pronouns, she/her and is the Education Programs Manager at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA) in Rockland. Mia’s high school experience at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill heavily influenced her pathway to art making and teaching. She was able to take advantage of all the programming that Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle had to offer high school students.

Mia at work!

Mia went to the University of Southern Maine (USM), started in the Studio Arts program and then switched to the Art and Entrepreneurship program. During her freshman year she was involved with Oak Street Studios (downtown Portland) and Side X Side and really loved teaching with both programs. She was experimenting with teaching in the community arts programming and in-school/out of school and after school programs. With further consideration she had the choice of majoring in the community art education program or study for a BFA with a K-12 certification. She jumped into the art education program and continued doing some teaching at Oak Street Studios and Side X Side, gaining in-depth experiences. She taught during the school year as well as during the summer. She student taught at Oceanside Elementary School in Portland, Falmouth Middle School, and Casco Bay High School in Portland and graduated in 2018 which gave her comprehensive experiences to help her consider public school teaching or a community education pathway.

USM has agreements with Maine College of Art + Design (MECA+D) and Southern Maine Community College (SMCC) which enables students learning opportunities at all three campuses. Mia traveled to Greece with a MECA+D study abroad summer program.

PUBLIC SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

Mia took on a long-term substitute position at Canal Elementary School in Westbrook. She was contracted for three months and it turned into six. The experience provided something that she couldn’t possibly have planned for. She was impressed with the Westbrook art education program and received a great deal of support while there. She had the chance to attend department meetings with the K-12 art staff and she had ongoing communication with department chair Rachel Somerville who provided incredible support. She even had the chance to advise a student teacher from Maine College of Art + Design. This was a unique experience, chaotic at times, however, between the student population and the support she was provided, everyday was an adventure. She was inspired and walked away with a new confidence and clarity a direction.

She also taught at the Gorham Arts Alliance in their pre-school and after school programs. This experience provided Mia a better understanding of younger learners which was invaluable. This gave her the confidence to work with young children. Soon after she left there, the pre-school became more a part of the public school. Mia views this positively because it helps facilitate a sequential art education program starting at a younger age. Schools adjust their art programs since students have art education prior to kindergarten.

MOVE TO ROCKLAND

Two and half years ago Mia moved to Rockland and visited CMCA to learn about their programming. She was impressed with their educational offerings and that most of it was being facilitated by a volunteer, Sandy Weisman. They had a serious conversation about CMCA’s five year plan which included a comprehensive art education program. Mia’s philosophy and CMCA’s were so aligned that they offered her the position of Education Programs Manager. She is grateful for the mentoring that Sandy provided and for her collaborative ongoing work with Community Arts Instructor Alexis Iammarino, who oversees the ‘Arts @ Work’ program.

Look Inside program

CMCA EDUCATION PROGRAMS, for all ages

VISION – Dedicated to promoting dynamic engagement with contemporary art and artists, the Center for Maine Contemporary Art offers programs that fuel the imagination, stimulate forward thinking, and cultivate conversation.

The priority is to develop programming that:

  • Expands access to the new ideas and modes of expression inherent in contemporary art
  • Provides authentic and experiential art education that engages local artists as teachers and mentors
  • Empowers individuals to explore their own capacities as creative thinkers and makers

CMCA learning programs:

  • Art Lab – Offering hands-on education programs year round for all ages.
    • Look Inside specifically geared to K-12 school visits, created by professional museum educators and assisted trained volunteer education staff, invites students to look at and understand the world in new ways. The program strengthens the following:
      • Visual literacy
      • Interdisciplinary learning
      • Deep and thoughtful looking
      • Hands-on creating making
    • Expanded program supporting K-12 school visits and professional development for Maine art teachers online and in person
    • February and April school vacation workshops
    • Summer Art Camp facilitated by guest teaching artists
  • Arts @ Work is a free mentorship program connecting high school students across the mid-coast region to arts leadership, career development, volunteer opportunities and studio practice development. This program is facilitated by Community Arts Instructor Alexis Iammarino.
  • Community Partners are plentiful at CMCA which help to connect artists of all ages, races, genders, socio-economic status, and abilities to contemporary artwork and artists.
Mia leading Look Inside program

PANDEMIC

The pandemic offered Mia and CMCA some challenges along with opportunities. They quickly shifted to online offerings. They built over 1,300 art kits with each kit being attached to one lesson. Over time students participating collected tons of ideas and materials. Parents are grateful for the quality art supplies to help steer their child while at home and most likely will last for a very long time. They worked with the local teen shelter providing art kits while they were doing food distribution.

Covid influenced and impacted decisions and direction. They are building on the challenges. Returning from the pandemic to in-person has been a different kind of challenge. They continue to offer online opportunities and will not lose what they learned during the most difficult part of the pandemic. They have streamlined their communication. CMCA is the only organization in the area providing online. They are now very open for schools and love having groups visit.

The other big learning is that they are clear that “creativity can be a step away from technology now.” They used technology to engage people while simultaneously making and offering the art kits, serving all ages, PreK through adults. Since it was difficult to get kids online they pre-recorded the lessons and the local school district communicated the information to students.

The instruction reached quite a distance during the pandemic. Schools as far away as Machias and Kennebunk participated during the heart of the pandemic. CMCA provided virtual tours and workshops. Perhaps due to the pandemic programs with classroom teachers are growing.

Mia has connected with the teachers at Harbor School and George Stevens Academy and provides workshops for students there.

Artlab

SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY RELATIONSHIPS, OPPORTUNITIES

CMCA has a free membership for Rockland residents. In many cases this starts with the teacher and the local schools.

CMCA is at a turning point, growing from what they’ve learned about young and adult learners. They are diversifying their teaching staff and including artists from the mid-coast. Many are interested in teaching and sharing what they do. Covid has shown that teachers, formally trained or not, can and wants to give back. Adult community members are interested in learning from an expert.

Mia teaches the elementary and middle school gifted and talented program in RSU 13 (Rockland) which she teaches at the school. The students also visit the CMCA shows throughout the school year.

The After School program involves partnering with the local schools through their 21st century program.

Rockland High School program is called ‘Arts at Work’, established in 2017, and CMCA partners with that program. Teaching artist, Alexis Iammarino facilitates this program. Internship for high school students at CMCA, focusing on the community. Alexis also oversees the mural program in the summer as lead artist for Arts in Action, which has been painting murals for several years in public spaces throughout Rockland. The town is being visually transformed thanks to the murals these young people have created with Alexis.

The ArtLab portion will expand to be more community based space for teaching artists.

CMCA is building on their relationship with the Mid-coast School of Technology. Together they are considering alternative learning spaces with an interest in the Graphic Design and Film programs offered at the school.

CMCA is part of the RSU 13 Youth Alliance. The organization is made up of more than 15 organizations who put out a newsletter and meet monthly. The organizations are located in the mid-coast, from Rockland to Camden, and are connected with youth, trying to build connections with youth and/or provide opportunities for youth. The group also supports each other by checking in with members to learn what is needed for youth, to help address struggles and to understand what is being heard from youth.

Mia leading Third Sunday

MAEA RELATIONSHIP

Mia works closely with Maine Art Education Association, hosting conferences and communicating about the resources that CMCA has for educators. She enjoys exploring this together with teachers and providing professional development in a collaborative manner, planning and implementing.

SUMMER

CMCA is 70 years old and the 5th year that they’ve been in their new facility in Rockland. On the 3rd Sunday of the month they have Sunday tours. In partnership with the Farnsworth Art Museum this summer they are offering joint field trips for children and summer camp programs for children in RSU13. Mia is honored that organizations wish to collaborate with CMCA but focusing on the numbers is a priority for them. And, getting everyone on the same timeline is a challenge.

LOOKING AHEAD

The education portion of CMCA will continue to grow while being mindful of their mission and goals. They will hire a part-time employee (10-15 hires a week) to help maintain the programs that they are currently housing. In Mia’s own words: “It is so exciting to have new work that turns over, exciting to have this space to use, exciting to make connections. I am wanting to do (provide programming for). “I am always reminding myself to slow down.”

Thank you Mia for providing so much information for the blog readers so they can learn (more) about you and the education programs at CMCA.

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Penny’s Story

April 19, 2022

MLTI t-shirt design

This story starts with the design that was selected for the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) conference t-shirt. But, it’s about much more than that. It’s about a 7th grader who LOVES the arts. Congratulations to Penny Graham who attends Waterville Jr. High School. Her art work, seen below, was selected to be printed on t-shirts that will be worn by Maine middle schoolers and their teachers while they attend the virtual student conference being held, May 26. Registration is open for the MLTI Virtual Conference and all grade 7 and 8 Maine students are invited to participate.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Penny recently about her design that connects with this years conference theme: Space2Connect. Before getting to the creating part Penny looked at t-shirts from past years which helped to guide her decisions. She wanted it simple so she considered ideas with space, specifically planets. She decided on one color so it could be seen and read easily. She tried different colors including pink and green but kept coming back to purple. She’s been using the digital app Procreate on her iPad for about a year so it made sense to use it for designing the t-shirt idea. In fact, she has created a video that demonstrates her knowledge and how she went about accomplishing her design. Video about using the app Procreate. Penny’s video will be included on an upcoming episode of the MLTI SLAM Show, which focuses on student leadership in technology integration. 

Penny drawing

After being on the phone with Penny for about 45 minutes I realized that I was not only speaking to a t-shirt designer by an incredible arts advocate. “The Arts are important to me. My whole life I’ve always loved doing music and art because they’re my passions. I’ve done art clubs, I draw a lot, I played a little saxophone, guitar, and the recorder. This year I can see myself improving.”

In addition Penny loves to write, narratives and some poetry. She’ll often learn something while writing in school and goes home and practices what she’s learned. She’s had several different learning opportunities in the arts. “I love doing art with materials and using my hands and getting dirty. It is such fun.” She enjoys pen and ink, sketching, water color, rock painting and pottery. Penny also loves creating with digital tools because “I can change the design quickly and the process goes much smoother.

The arts rotate through the schedule for students at Waterville Jr. High and as a 7th grader she doesn’t have visual art but she does have music. She selected the violin which she played when she was younger and is happy to return to it. She enjoys playing in the school orchestra and likes the performances.  

She also loves theatre and has participated in the Sound of Music and Nobody Believes in Fairies which was written by one of the school’s 6th English teachers. She’s excited about the musical coming up this spring called Middleschool Madness. Penny says: “Theater is a really nice bonding experience. It’s a fun, social thing that I just love to do. I got to meet so many new people in the two plays I’ve been inMy theater experiences have all been really great.” 

Penny as Gretl

Penny also shared her experience of the pandemic. She was glad to have alone time to draw and bake and was able to pursue her hobbies. “I feel like without the pandemic I wouldn’t have been able to move forward that much. I feel like I could take big strokes that I wouldn’t have had time to do.”

Penny’s dad shared: “Waterville is a wonderful place for artistic and curious children like Penny.”

I’m certain that Penny has a bright future and I’m grateful to have met her and for our conversation.

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MAEA Conference and Awards

April 12, 2022

What a day for art education!

The Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) concluded an outstanding spring conference by presenting three, no four, awards to deserving educators. But first a word about the conference. I’ve been around long enough to see institutions transform, some for the third and fourth time. I had the pleasure of working on the planning committee for the MAEA spring conference that was held on Saturday, April 2 in Rockland at the Farnsworth Art Museum and CMCA. I’m not just talking about a conference that was held in both facilities but what took place was magical. It was delightful to see the two institutions partner with MAEA to put together a very worthwhile day for art educators.

Presentation by Daniel Salomon

The conference entitled Radical Reuse was planned and implemented by a group of people who had never worked together before, some new to their positions, and everyone went above and beyond. Over a two month period every Thursday the education staffs of both institutions and the MAEA conference planners came together on zoom to plan the annual spring conference. THANK YOU to everyone for a job well done! From CMCA: Mia Bogyo, and representing the Farnsworth: Gwendolyn Loomis Smith, Katherine Karlik, and Alexis Saba. MAEA president, Lynda Leonas, coordinated the effort with board members Iva Damon and Christine Del Rossi supporting. From the Rockland school district Richard Wehnke helped.

Printmaking with Sherrie York – Lynda Leonas and Iva Damon

The keynote was provided by Krisanne Baker, Medomak Valley High School art and ecology teacher and artist. She is committed to advocating for the ocean and inspires her students to learn about water quality, availability and rights, and ocean stewardship. Guest speaker Daniel Salomon who teaches in The Hatchery at Camden Hills Regional High School provided background information on the work he is doing with students utilizing and reusing materials and the role we each can play.

Gallery tour, Farnsworth

After the opening speakers, conference participants attended sessions on printmaking with Sherrie York, art making around ‘place’ with Alexis Iammarino, toured the Farnsworth Museum, and toured CMCA. Several merchants from Downtown Rockland supported the conference goers with discounts. During the middle of the day Daniel’s students from the Hatchery, set up outside CMCA, shared several of the projects they have been involved in this year.

Alexis Iammarino demonstrating, CMCA

AWARDS PROGRAM

The day concluded with honoring the work of four educators with an amazing backdrop of quilts at CMCA. The educators are outstanding in and out of the classroom, engaged in work at the local, regional, and state level. They work (and play) tirelessly, sometimes alone and often collaborating with others. Every day they exhibit all that is right about education. In their respective institutions they have a place at the table where they continuously advocate for students and art education. We know that an excellent education in the arts is essential, and these educators strive for every student to experience just that. 

The awards committee was led by Belfast Area High School art teacher Heidi O’Donnell. Members of the committee included Hope Lord, Maranacook Middle School art teacher and Suzanne Goulet, Waterville High School art teacher, and myself. The awards, clay vessels, were created by Carolyn Brown, Camden Hills Regional High School art teacher. In addition each educator received a plaque for their classroom and a pineapple.

The 2022 Administration/Supervision Art Educator of the Year was presented to Dr. Rachel Somerville who is at Maine College of Art & Design and Westbrook Schools. She was introduced by Melissa Perkins, Congin Elementary School art teacher, Westbrook.

Melissa presenting Rachel

The 2022 Secondary Art Educator of the year was presented to Iva Damon, art teacher at Leavitt Area High School in Turner. She was introduced by Lynda Leonas, president of MAEA and an art teacher at Walton and Washburn Elementary Schools in Auburn.

Lynda presenting Iva

The 2023 Maine Art Educator of the Year was presented to Matthew Johnson, art teacher at Westbrook High School. He was introduced by Deb Bickford who also teaches art at Westbrook High School.

Lynda Leonas presented a surprise pineapple award to Heidi for outstanding leadership and contributions to the MAEA board. She is stepping down from the board as she takes on a leadership position with the National Art Education Association.

Heidi O’Donnell, right with her Belfast colleagues Linda Nicholas, middle and Kathie Gass, left

As we move away from the challenges of the pandemic I urge you to consider:

  • Become a member of MAEA, if you are not already one
  • Volunteer to become a board member and take on a leadership role
  • Nominate a colleague who is worthy of recognition

For more information please go to the MAEA website.

Photos taken by Heidi O’Donnell and myself.

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Insect Lab

March 22, 2022

Learning opportunity for teachers

Below is an invitation from Maine artist Mike Libby! Mike is a graduate of Bangor High School and is an amazing artist who established INSECT LAB. Now, he’s sharing his ideas with teachers. I encourage you to respond to Mike and join him on zoom during one or all of the sessions. What a super opportunity to consider how Insect Lab could be part of a lesson or perhaps your school curriculum.

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Congratulations Sue Barre

March 17, 2022

National Federation of State High School Associations Awardee                 

In 1989 the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSH) established The Outstanding Music Educator Awards. Waterville High School music educator Susan Barre is an awardee!

CONGRATULATIONS SUE!

Many of us know Sue’s tireless work for music education from her school district in Waterville, Maine to the state level and now at the national level. Sue teaches music to students in grades 5-12. I first met Sue when she became a Teacher Leader during Phase 3 of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI). She was a strong leader as MAAI transitioned to the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) and its latest iteration of the Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership (MAEPL). Sue is a quiet and effective leader who is there when needed and is willing to take on a responsibility and give it her full attention. She can be trusted to not only to complete the task but, always at the highest level. She is a steady voice for all her students and the music education in her district continuously shines under her guidance. I’ve had the honor of working with Sue on many projects and watch her grow as a teacher, leader, and human being. We co-presented in Providence at the NAfME Eastern Division Conference in 2015 and again in 2017 in Atlantic City. This is certainly a well deserved award and I invite you to join me in CONGRATULATING SUE!

NFSH ASSOCIATION NEWS RELEASE

In addition to earning numerous awards and honors, Susan Barre has transformed Maine’s Waterville school music program to one of the state’s most respected, celebrating music and students of all abilities and interests.

After beginning her education career in 1989 and teaching music at various schools in Maine, Barre joined Waterville Public Schools in 2008 as band director for grades 5-12. In 2014, Barre was named department chair for Visual and Performing Arts at Waterville Senior High School and coordinator of music for grades K-12. During her tenure, Waterville students have consistently been recognized with Outstanding Music Awards.

In 2013, Waterville Ensembles were recognized with the “Spirit of DC” award recognizing responsible and respectful behavior. At the 2018 NYC Heritage Music Festival, the Waterville Music Department won the Sweepstakes Award for outstanding music department, and the concert and jazz band earned Gold Awards.

Barre has worked to revise the music curriculum, seeking consistency in music terms and practices, and coordinated the development and implementation of a portfolio for music students. The portfolio has become a blueprint for many other music programs in the state.

Locally, the Waterville music program has become an integral part of the arts community, recognized for its efficient hosting of local festivals each year. Waterville students regularly perform in the community and are active in the arts programs at nearby Colby College.

At the state level, Barre is a [past] president of the Maine Music Educators, which helped implement a paid executive director position for the organization and moved the state’s jazz programs from a competitive format to a festival format, where ensembles perform for a rating and not against each other. Barre is also president of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Eastern Division and served on the executive committee overseeing the planning and implementation of the 2021 Eastern Division Virtual Festival and Conference.

Sue Barre and Argy Nestor co-presenting, NAfME Eastern Division Conference, Atlantic City, 2017. Session: Leading a Way to Proficiency Through the Arts
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Nicholas Parker’s Story

February 26, 2022

Musical journey and it’s impact on something larger

This is a story about Nicholas Parker but his story is especially poignant at this time with the invasion by Russia of Ukraine earlier this week. Samantha Smith was a 10 year old girl living in Manchester, Maine when, in 1982, she wrote to the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Yuri AndropovI. She was seeking to understand why the relations between the Soviet Union and the United States were so tense. Her question and bravery prompted a response and made a huge difference. She received an invitation to the Soviet Union and became a Goodwill Ambassador. Sadly, Samantha, at the age of 13, and her father, died in a plane crash. Her spirit and commitment to peace lives on. I pray for peace for the people of Ukraine.

If we could be friends by just getting to know each other better, then what are our countries really arguing about? Nothing could be more important than not having a war if a war could kill everything.” ~Samantha Smith

NICHOLAS PARKER’S STORY

As many young children do when there is a piano in the house Nicholas started ‘playing’ random notes for fun at an early age. At age 9 he started taking piano lessons from Amy Irish. At the time, he knew how to play “Do-Re-Mifrom The Sound of Music using solely his pointer finger. Amy taught him to develop his piano abilities and he fell in love with the instrument over the next decade.

PLEASE NOTE: All of the indented bold and italic sections below are quotes from Nicholas Parker.

“Plunking around on the piano and coming up with my own melodies has been one of my favorite activities since the beginning, though I never really put my efforts into writing a complete piece until the eighth grade.”

Nicholas playing Do-Re-Mi

In 2014 while in grade 8 at Reeds Brook School in Hampden Nicholas had Karyn Field for a teacher. Students were engaged in project based learning using Meridian Stories. Along with teaching Karyn was the Civil Rights Advisor so she decided to reach out to Rob Shetterly and Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) to enrich the opportunities for student learning. Rob brought some of his large portraits to school to hang in the library. Students selected a portrait from Rob’s collection and were assigned to do some sort of creative project on that person. Nicholas chose Samantha Smith.

I chose Samantha Smith, a girl from Maine who, in the ‘80s, was known as America’s Youngest Ambassador, and who traveled to the Soviet Union as a peace activist at the height of the Cold War. For my project, I wrote a piano piece about Samantha’s life.

Piano recital with Amy Irish

For several days Nicholas worked independently in the music room while writing the piece about Samantha Smith. Karyn remembers checking in with him periodically to hear what he was accomplishing. Nick used his musical abilities and combined them with Samantha Smith; an ideal project in many ways.

When Rob and AWTT staff saw and heard what Nicholas had accomplished they were very impressed. A conversation followed and out of this grew the ongoing AWTT project offered each year to middle students. The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is a dynamic educational program for middle and high school students that uses the creative arts to build a bridge between the classroom and the world as students become compassionate, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them and work for the common good.

“Looking back, I would have written the piece a bit differently now (on account of my skills having developed significantly since I was 13), but the music nevertheless managed to elicit a response from Mr. Shetterly, who was present when we displayed our projects.”

Playing on a street piano

Karyn shared that Nicholas was a confident and very humble student. He was provided an amazing opportunity to take what someone did that created change and through Rob’s painting of Samantha, together they elevated her voice. Nicholas was invited, while in high school, to speak at the New England League of Middle Schools annual dinner. Karyn said: “Through his passion and intelligence and his gifts he opened doors for others students and served as a good role model.”

“Seeing the impact my project had on Mr. Shetterly and the creation of the Samantha Smith Challenge was wonderful. Since then, I’ve loved staying in touch with AWTT when I’m able, and have enjoyed learning much more in the fields of piano performance and composition.”

Nicholas returned at Christmas from a semester studying in Italy. He took time to provide an update what he’s doing and some of his thinking.

“Today, I am headed into my senior year at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, where I am majoring in Music and Italian Studies. While I have grown a lot in my abilities, I must admit that I’m still trying to figure out what it is that I want to write (and how to write it). George Winston, whose CDs my parents used to play when I was growing up, is a source of much inspiration. His seasonal albums are some of my favorites, and the way in which he captures natural settings through the piano is exceptional. 

Working on music while in Italy last fall

The opportunity to teach music to others has presented itself in recent years as well, and I have found myself working with a few students—albeit largely in a virtual format—on the fundamentals of music and piano-playing. To introduce people to the piano has been an immense joy, and quite often has made me think of the importance of the arts and music in education. I personally have learned at least as much from studying music as I have from any science or math course, and in fact have found that the subjects of music and science are not quite so different. And yet, when it comes to many schools (especially those in less-privileged areas or with less funding), the arts and music programs are all too often the first on the chopping block. The benefits of music in education are plentiful, but inclusion and accessibility are indispensable when it comes to having an impact on students’ development.

Nick performing the Samantha Smith piece he wrote:

As was stated by Stanford University professor Eliot Eisner (quoted previously on this blog), “The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.” Whether by aiding in telling the story of Samantha Smith, or by helping me explore the natural world around us in a way that words and numbers cannot, music has occupied a space in my life that nothing else could. It’s impact on me has in turn given me the potential to impact a little bit of my corner of the world, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

AWTT Education Director Connie Carter has valued her time working with Nicholas and said the following: “Besides being the catalyst for AWTT’s education program the Samantha Smith Challenge, Nick has continued to be a strong voice for courageous student activism.  He has spoken at conferences about AWTT and was a critical voice in our strategic planning process.  Listening to Nick talk about the importance of finding and using one’s voice is like listening to a beautiful musical composition  — full of meaning, compassion, and inspiration.”

It was such a gift to converse with Nicholas and hear his story. His journey in many ways is just beginning, especially to those of us who have been around for many years. But, his musical journey started many years ago as a small child. I’m grateful Nicholas shared his story and I’m sure it will inspire and remind us how important it is to provide learning opportunities in the arts for all.

If you have a student or a former student whose story will inspire please contact me at meartsed@gmail.com!

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On Hiatus

July 2, 2021

The Maine Arts Education Blog is on hiatus

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Great Opportunity

June 18, 2021

What are you doing July 27-28?

Interested in getting together with other Maine Arts Educators and Teaching Artists? Learn more about Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership (MAEPL) and consider applying to attend the summer institute and become a Teacher Leader or Teaching Artist Leader for the 2021-22 school year.

At the Summer Institute new Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders will learn foundational practices in instructional design and leadership skills. Participants will take part in a variety of workshops focused on emerging needs in Arts Education professional development.  

Collaboration, networking, and the sharing of resources are an expectation as a member of the MAEPL community.  During the Institute participants will develop an individualized growth plan that will be shared with others for feedback and suggestions.  

Throughout the school year, participants will continue to share how their individualized growth plan is developed and implemented, and they will have the opportunity to share at a Critical Friends Day, and with a thought partner.        

There is a Winter Retreat with participants to review and reflect on the work done, and allow for time to get feedback to plan for the next Summer Institute.  

Listen to Teacher Leader Kris Bisson talk about her experiences being involved with MAEPL

Teacher Leader/Teaching Artist Leader Annual Expectations: 

  • Attend Summer Institute 
  • Work with a thought partner 
  • Develop a individualized growth plan 
  • Share the outcomes of your individual growth plan within the MAEPL community and beyond (i.e. workshop, resource, video, article, etc.) 
  • Share feedback and information about MAEPL through teacher leader stories and as part of your outcomes of your personal growth plan 
  • Collaborate, network, and share resources 
  • Participate in Critical Friend Day 
  • Attend Winter Retreat

Teacher Leader/Teaching Artist Leader Opportunities: 

  • Membership in the vibrant MAEPL community
  • Access to online resources 
  • Learn/Experience creative activities together 
  • Collaboratively develop educational resources 
  • Establish and work toward an individualized growth plan
  • Take on leadership and facilitator roles in MAEPL, Arts Organizations, and school communities 
  • Connect and make long-lasting relationships with other arts educators  
  • Network across diverse arts disciplines 
  • Access cutting edge professional development for emerging needs of our students and leaders within the arts educational community and beyond
  • Learn from experienced leaders 
  • Gain recertification hours 
  • Partner with the Maine Arts Commission Arts Education Program 

JOIN US!  Become a Teacher Leader and Change Lives.  

APPLY TODAY — CLICK HERE  June 22, 2021 deadline for new and returning applicants

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW: 

SUMMER INSTITUTE

Pilgrim Lodge is a camp run by the United Church of Christ of Maine on Lake Cobbosseecontee in West Gardiner, with cabins with electricity and plumbing, large indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, modern dining facilities, wifi in main buildings and good general cell reception, and recreation options, including swimming, human-powered boating, and trails.  

APPLICATION

Administrator Name/contact information

Paragraph of Interest — Selected individuals will be expected to be active leaders in helping to develop and support excellence in teaching and learning in Maine. A full commitment to the Institute timeline is expected as seen in the online information sheet.  Please attach a brief overview of your interest and current/past experience (if any) in Leadership. Include your experience collaborating with other arts educators and experiences relevant to the initiative.  (Please no more than ~ 500 words, about 1 page.) 

Resume/CV —  If you are a Teaching Artist, please also include websites or documentation of your teaching work.  

Letter of Reference – TEACHERS: This should be from your administrator.  TEACHING ARTISTS: This should be from a school or community  organization with whom you have worked.   Please attach a Letter of Recommendation in which the person includes comments and/or examples reflecting your leadership potential and your ability to work collaboratively.  Selected individuals will be responsible for sharing their newly developed expertise and related classroom experiences with other arts educators.

Questions? Contact Maine Arts Commission Director of Education, Martha Piscuskas at Martha.Piscuskas@maine.gov.

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