Posts Tagged ‘arts educators’


We’re Listening

October 15, 2014

Let your voice be heard!

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 9.39.51 PMThe Maine Arts Commission (MAC) invites you to contribute your best thinking, creative ideas, and your deep thoughts. We want to hear from all of Maine’s Visual and Performing Arts educators. The short online survey is located at The information collected will help create the future of Maine arts education as part of the MACs Strategic Plan for arts and culture.  Thank you for taking the time.

In addition we want to hear from THE future of Maine and that is your students. Please provide them with the link and ask them to complete the survey at


Reflecting on the Summer Institute

July 10, 2013

Thinking, thinking, thinking


Participants discussing information at the summer institute, June, MECA

I spent some time this weekend putting together the lists of feedback on different topics that we focused on with the teacher leaders at the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative summer institute. It was a good activity since I didn’t have to move around much in the heat. One of the final exercises was to ask the teacher leaders to take a moment and reflect on the work during the three days.


They wrote their reflections to these three questions on stickies that were put on chart paper:

  1. What is circling around in your head?
  2. What are three questions you have?
  3. What is squared with your beliefs?
Dance teacher MaryEllen Schaper and Early Childhood/music educator Judy Fricke compare notes

Dance teacher MaryEllen Schaper and Early Childhood/music educator Judy Fricke

The answers were varied but also clustered. During the institute we spent a day discussing proficiency.  Participants wrestled with “what does it look like in the visual or performing arts classroom when put up against a standard?” This work helped to prepare for the high school diploma coming in 2018 that will be based on students showing proficiency of the standard. No longer will schools be graduating students based on their seat time but by demonstrating accomplishment of the standards. At the local level you will be making the decision on what that looks like.

After a day of discussions while looking at and/or listening to student work samples some teacher leaders still had circling around in their heads: “What is proficiency?” “How to organize teaching/assessment to check student proficiency.” “I get the importance of standards but it still boggles my mind how differently we “interpret” them and how differently we use them across the state.”How do we make sure that EVERY school district in Maine offers instruction in VPA that is sufficient for all students to become proficient?” This is not an easy question to answer however, everyone agreed that the conversations are important, necessary, and that they were glad to have the opportunity to be involved in the discussion. As I typed this weekend I wondered: how many teachers across the state are having this type of conversation?!

Visual art teacher Charlie Johnson and music teacher Patti Gordan

Visual art teacher Charlie Johnson and music teacher Patti Gordan

And for question #3:

“Student feedback informs instruction. Formative assessments. Summative assessments.” “Collaboration and good leadership create a vibrant environment for professional growth.” “I can do this has changed to I AM doing this. The process is far enough along to look back and see success.”

Much of what I read reflects the confidence these teacher leaders have and their willingness to learn from each other and understand that learning is ongoing. They’ve made a commitment to teaching but they’ve also made a commitment to go above and beyond to be a leader. Thirty five teacher leaders are preparing workshops this summer that combines what they learned with their experiences and past knowledge. They will gather in the middle of August to share their workshops for feedback from their colleagues. In the fall they will begin a round of  workshops at the regional, mega-regional and statewide level. It is a pleasure to watch their workshops form and their creativity in action. I am grateful that they are doing this important work that benefits all arts educators and ultimately our students are the big winners. So, THANK YOU TEACHER LEADERS!

I suggest you watch this blog for the schedule of workshops taking place during the school year. One date I do know at this point is the statewide conference called Arts Education: Leading the Way being held at UMaine, Collins Center for the Arts, Thursday, October 24. The cost for the one-day conference is $75 which includes a choice of 35 workshops, a keynote, performances, and lunch. You can purchase your ticket at Our conference this year precedes the Maine Arts Commission two-day conference, The International Conference on Arts and Culture: Strengthen the Core, 2013.

Sitting leadership team member Catherine Ring, (standing) music educators Jen Nash and Bill Buzza, and art educator Shannon Westphal

(Seated) leadership team member Catherine Ring, music educators Jen Nash and Bill Buzza, and art educator Shannon Westphal


Looking for Arts Teachers

May 26, 2013

Call for Applications to Summer Institute
for Maine Visual and Performing Arts Educators
July 23 – 25, 2013
Pine Tree Camp, Smithfield, Maine

The Maine Arts Commission and Syntiro are announcing a call for applications from Maine educators for a three-day summer institute focusing on teaching arts to K-12 students with disabilities.

20130513_100728 The institute will accommodate a total of 15 educators who will be part of a team developing new techniques and best practices for teaching arts to K-12 students with disabilities. The learning experience will consist of both structured training and real time opportunities to work with students. Each participant will receive a $200 stipend to assist with travel.

The summer institute will be held at the Pine Tree Camp in Smithfield, ME, July 23-25, 2013. This beautiful camp is nestled on the shore of North Pond with rustic large cabins and a mile of shorefront.  Participants will spend three days fully immersed in camp enjoying meals and free time with students, while having the opportunity to participate in professional development designing arts curricula throughout the day.  Overnight lodging is available and encouraged. Pine Tree Camp will be providing participants with a large group cabin for their use during the three days at no charge. There are hotels available offsite if you prefer but they would be at your own expense.

By the end of the 3 days, success will look, sound, and feel like:

  • a deeper understanding of students with disabilities
  • an opportunity to learn techniques to help all students succeed in the arts
  • an opportunity to participate in designing curricula that engages  students with disabilities
  • a collaborative arts experience that engages students and helps teachers learn through hands-on experience
  • an understanding of ways various arts mediums can be used to engage students with disabilities
  • Practice using specific skills that promote arts participation and comprehension for students; and
  • Confidence and eagerness to act in new ways that will optimize the performance of the students with whom you are working.

Applications will be reviewed by looking at the following:

  • A brief resume of classroom experience;
  • what skills, perspectives and experiences you hope to bring to the experience;
  • what you hope to gain from the experience;
  • a description of any past experiences you may have had working with students with disabilities;
  • an explanation of what makes you a good candidate for this summer institute.

Submit Application
The institute is open to Maine educators with at least three years of classroom experience. Preference will be given to visual and performing arts educators. Fifteen participants will be chosen based their application. Please CLICK HERE for an application. Chosen participants will be notified by June 21, 2013.

Participants are required to stay from 8-4 each day. Overnight lodging is free, encouraged and available. This is intended to be a full immersion program.

20130513_111310DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: JUNE 20, 2013


MAAI Mega-Regional Workshop a Success

March 2, 2013

Yesterday at USM

Almost 75 arts educators attended the mega-regional workshop yesterday at USM Portland. The early feedback points to a success! The workshops offered a variety of opportunities on arts assessment, creativity, curriculum, instruction, technology, and others! This post includes some photos of yesterdays event and a later blog post will include workshop resources for those of you interested.

In the meantime, the Maine Arts Assessment site at has a plethora of resources that I invite you to view and use. Yesterday’s workshop information and the two coming up in Easton, March 22 and Ellsworth, March 29 is located at You must register to attend. The MAAI workshop are a collaboration with MLTI and are FREE with contact hours included.

Thanks to the MAAI teacher leaders, leadership team, and MLTI technology integrators for their outstanding contributions yesterday. Thank you also to USM for providing the space for the workshop and to USM faculty Jeff Beaudry for his leadership with the MAAI.

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Happy Retirement!

June 11, 2012


Best Wishes to the following for a wonderful – happy and healthy retirement. Combined they have contributed over 350 years of teaching art or music to students across the state of Maine. Their expertise and commitment to education is appreciated and I am certain their students will miss them! Never to be taken away from them, or the districts they have served, is the impact they have made on students education in the arts. THANK YOU all! I hope you will continue to be involved in arts education in Maine by providing me ( with an email address to continue to be on the Maine arts education list-serv.

  • Debi Lynn Baker – Greenville Schools, K-12 Visual Arts, 27 years
  • Sheila Bohlin – Mt. Ararat High School, Visual Arts, 39 years
  • Carolyn Brasslett – Glenburn, Music, 40 years
  • M. Stanley Buchanan –  Nokomis Regional High, Newport, Music, 47 years
  • Carol Deetjen – Boothbay Region Elementary School, Visual Arts, 32 years
  • Jane Frost – Richmond, Visual Arts, 25 years
  • Randy Menninghaus – Brewer High School, Visual Arts, 35 years
  • Richard Morin – MSAD #40, Music 39 years
  • Dwight Tibbetts – Cony, Augusta 32 years
  • Althea Woolf- Village Elementary School, York, Visual Arts, 37 years
  • Gerald York – Jonesport-Beals High School (Union #103) Jonesport & Beals Elementary Schools, Music, more than 25 years
  • Mary Zane- Coastal Ridge Elementary School, York, Visual Arts, 13 years

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2012

Giving in 2012!

During the last week I found myself reflecting on 2011. Over and over again  I counted my blessings and thought about how fortunate I am to be working at the Maine Department of Education as the visual and performing arts specialist.

I have been thinking about teachers and the daily task of teaching. The field of arts education is about teaching, yes, but so much more. It is about caring deeply, and continuously giving back, passing it forward so to speak. As difficult as the work might be, I don’t think anyone in the teaching profession has it as good as arts educators.

I am not referring to teaching schedules or working spaces but the opportunity to work with students before, during, and after school with content that we are passionate about. In many cases, after school and in the evening and weekends when not teaching, arts teachers are rehearsing or creating to prepare for a performance or an exhibit of their own work. Many collaborate with friends and colleagues, artists and musicians. It is all part of the experience, ongoing professional development, while feeding one’s soul.

Recently, Loren Fields emailed me and said this referring to his good fortune of being a teacher, musician, horn player: “it is a deeply gratifying cycle that we all (students and instructors) are enriched by.”

On December 30th while reading the Portland Press Herald I saw Bill Nemitz column where he wrote about a program from the Long Creek Youth Development Center. The piece is called called Hooked on giving back. Students are engaged in crocheting blankets, sometimes for their family members, but mostly to be given to the community. Many are for children who during this time of year are especially in need of comfort. The article is a wonderful description of giving back, not only by these young offenders inside the juvenile detention facility but by the man who volunteers his time working with the young people there. The young people had passed a milestone and created the 3,000th blanket.

I am quite certain that 2012 will be another year of giving back by arts educators. My warmest wishes for all the arts educators reading this blog post and deepest gratitude for the work you do each day with students and arts education! May your year be filled with giving back that makes your heart grow a little larger!

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