Posts Tagged ‘Dr Levesque Elementary School’

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Dance Grant Series 1

February 9, 2017

Dance education funding – “Hopes for the Future”

This is the first of three blog posts that will be included, February 9 – 11, describing the dance education residency that took place in December 2016 from a special grant called the “Hopes for the Future” funding. Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader and dance educator from Thornton Academy Emma Campbell collaborated and planted a seed and it grew into a dance education opportunity for Maine students. Learn more from this series of posts. Please note: funding will be available again during 2017. Watch the blog and the Maine Arts Commission arts education list-serv for information.

img_4605In November of 2015 a collaborative performance was held at Thornton Academy in Saco. Two schools and five dance studios work together as part of the Community Dance Project to create the performance and raise funds to help establish a dance education grant. The “Hopes for the Future,” funding was available to schools/districts who have no dance education program in place during the school day. Applications were accepted with a handful of guidelines. Two of them being that the funding was to be used during the 2016-17 school year and a dance educator from the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster had to be selected to provide the artist residency.  The roster presently has 15 dance artists.

The funding was to be used as seed money so schools/districts would actually have a complete opportunity to experience the benefits of dance education for learners. In April 2016 the funding was awarded to MSAD #33, comprised of Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville and Wisdom Middle/High School in St. Agatha located in the northern most part of Aroostook County.  The district’s 240 students and teachers had the unique opportunity in December 2016 for dance educator/teaching artist John Morris to spend a week in their schools.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-2-00-25-pmI was thrilled to be able to travel to the County and visit the classrooms and see the students in action working with John Morris. Along with John worked closely with art teacher Theresa Cerceo and music teacher Charles Michaud to be sure that the learning opportunity was at an extremely high level. The preparation work that both teachers did before John arrived was evident. The 5 days were documented very well with photos, video footage, quotes from students and staff. It was obvious at the culminating performance on a chilly Friday night in St. Agatha that the opportunity exceeded the expectations.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-9-49-40-amDr. Fern Desjardins, Superintendent of Schools, MSAD #33 said the following:

“MSAD #33 had a unique opportunity to have a dance artist come to the District for a weeklong residency to introduce K-12 students to dance education as an art form.  I gratefully acknowledge Thornton Academy for their generous donation to the Maine Arts Commission to make the competitive grant, “Hopes for the Future” possible.  To bring dance to our rural area opened our students to a different way of expressing themselves by using a talent they may not have recognized or even considered.  This could have opened career options for some of our students who were not destined to seek a post-secondary college degree.  As I watched the closing performance of students at Wisdom Middle/High School’s Night of the Arts, I saw how dance artist John Morris had reached students of all academic abilities.  I was convinced I needed to make an effort to bring Mr. Morris back next spring for a follow-up residency.  He made it possible for a segment of our student population to really express their creative talents that are not otherwise discovered and displayed for our community to observe and truly appreciate – as they did on the evening of December 9, 2016.  The smiles, applause, and comments from the audience brought much pride to our little school.”

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-2-19-39-pmLisa Bernier Principal at the Dr. Levesque Elementary School, Frenchville said the following:

“Having Mr. Morris in MSAD# 33 was phenomenal for students.  Not all students will excel in sports.  The students who participated and benefited in the Dance Residency are students who have talents that would have remained hidden otherwise, especially at the high school level. Administrators and the community of MSAD# 33 believe in the arts and it’s ability to shape and mold the lives of all students. The residency solidified our belief.  We are also very lucky to have exceptional educators who care enough to go above and beyond to bring such activities to the district.”

Over the next 3 days you will have the chance to read more posts that explain the details of the dance education residency. If you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

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MSAD #33 Dance Residency

December 12, 2016

Wisdom Middle/High School and Dr. Levesque Elementary School

Students practicing their dance

Students practicing their dance

A week long dance education opportunity last week culminated on Friday evening with a performance at the Wisdom Middle/High School. The Winter Arts Evening included dance, music and visual art and was absolutely wonderful. With standing room only the school was filled with excited and proud parents, siblings, school staff members and other community members! The students outstanding performance brought smiles and some tears to their faces.

It was an amazing week for the students in MSAD #33 at the Wisdom Middle/High School and the Dr. Levesque Elementary Schools. All students had the opportunity to work with dance teaching artist John Morris thanks to funding provided by a benefit performance that took place in November 2015 at the Thornton Academy in Saco. Dance educator Emma Campbell coordinated the effort along with 9 other dance programs.

John working with kindergarten class

John working with kindergarten class

The grant was written by Theresa Cerceo, art teacher from MSAD #33 and John Morris. The dance unit connected with visual art, music, and dance and took place as part of the art and music curriculum. Charles Michaud is the district music teacher who participated as well. Students learned about the similarities and differences of the 3 arts disciplines. Students made art, music, and writings and responded to it through dance.

I was fortunate to be able to be in the County for part of the week and was thrilled to have the chance to see the work up close. The impact on students was enormous.

Theresa and Charles

Theresa and Charles

There will be a series of blog posts in the near future so you can learn more about the success in MSAD #33. Thanks to another generous donation from a dance performance at Thornton Academy in November 2016, the Maine Arts Commission will be offering another dance education grant for Maine schools/districts to apply for. Watch the blog this Winter for the posts and the announcement about the grant coming in early Spring.

One of the dances created and performed was depicting senior Jasmine M. DeMoranville’s poem.

Art

Pencil to paer
Brush to board
Glare at the table
Find the word

Something’s wrong
The paper’s off
The board is breaking
In your head there’s a gong
What is it that’s wrong?
Think again

A thought is forming
Words are swarming
Something’s off
The paper’s warning

Eyes are straining
Brain is whirring
Thoughts are becoming broken
Fingers twitch to find a token
What is wrong?

Disavow
Break through
Broken voice
Say thank you

Tone is flat
Face is hard to look at
Once distracted
Fall to the wrong format

The alley is dark
Nothing is visible
Plain as bark
See it flicker
Was that a spark?

The world is screaming
Ears are bleeding
Something wrong
Think through the noise.

The thought is sudden
Stunned and broken
But it’s there

The screaming is louder
Distracting
Attention pulling
Words are clear and blurry
Think harder
Think deeper

Answers drip from mind to tongue
Still unclear
Find the words

It drifts away
Grab it!
Color
Emotion
Shadow

Noise stops
Clarity settles
Words settle on fingertips
Art

A whisper on the breeze
I need it

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Trip to The County

May 16, 2016

Aroostook county

Most days I feel fortunate to do the work I do. Let’s face, I believe working with Maine’s Visual and Performing Arts teachers is a great job! Most days it doesn’t feel like work because I love it so much. (Don’t mistake this for an easy job!) I don’t get to Aroostook County or the areas of Maine that are further away from the Maine Arts Commission office as much as I’d like but, when I do it is a wonderful treat.

IMG_2127Recently I traveled to the County (as Aroostook is affectionately know to many) and learned a great deal AND had a fabulous time. The early morning drive north on 95, once I reach Bangor, is an opportunity to turn off the radio and look and think. It took me almost 4 hours from my home to my first destination, Wintergreen Arts Center in Presque Isle.

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Wintergreen Arts Center, Presque Isle

I met with Dottie Hutchins, the Executive Director of the Wintergreen Arts Center and with the co-chairs of the center board members Heather Harvell, and Kim Guerrette Michaud. I felt like I had known them for a long time. The center has many successful programs that range from pre-school programs to after school art programs for young kids through teenagers to programs for adults. They are a growing center with so much to offer. If you are in Presque Isle be sure and stop in and say hello to the folks there. Dottie and the crew are working on a series of blog posts for meartsed so you can learn more in depth about their programs.

IMG_2132From there I headed north to visit Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Art Teacher Leader and Leadership Team member Theresa Cerceo. First stop, after my hour drive was at the Dr. Levesque Elementary School in Frenchville where Theresa was teaching a science lab. Yes, art integration in action. It wasn’t about the product but about learning by asking questions and experimenting with materials. For example, students were grinding leaves with a little bit of water. Students test scores in math and reading have increased due to the work that ALL teachers are doing during the weekly labs.

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SLAM at Wisdom High School, St. Agatha

From there I headed north again  to Wisdom Middle/High School in St. Agatha to visit with the Students Leaders in the Arts Movement (SLAM). It provided the opportunity to talk and listen to the members of SLAM at their own school. We exchanged ideas on the school board presentation they are preparing for. SLAM kicked off the statewide arts education census in December by creating a video inviting principals to submit the survey. It was great to share some of the results – 95% response. So proud of the advocacy work this group is doing. If you are interested in learning more or starting your own SLAM chapter please contact Theresa at tcerceo@msad33.org.

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Sip and Paint

Back to Presque Isle for supper with the MALI Teacher Leaders who planned the workshop I was attending the next day including Sue Beaulier who teaches Art K-12 in Ashland, Josh Bosse (and his lovely wife), Music PK-12 in Madawaska, Leadership Team member, Pam Kinsey, Music K-12 Easton, and Theresa. After supper we stopped into the Wintergreen Arts to see the center filled with 31 adults painting as part of a fundraiser, Sip and Paint.

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Jake Sturtevant presenting long distance

The next day I headed west for the MALI Mega Workshop at the beautiful Ashland School. Students were in session but you couldn’t tell. The school is laid out beautifully and the rooms are lovely places to work. Thanks Sue for hosting. It was a wonderful day with the following workshops offered:

  • Critical Thinking in the Art Room – Sue Beaulier
  • Individual Assessments in an Ensemble – Jake Sturtevant, joining electronically
  • GT Toolbox: Tools for the GT Classroom – Josh Bosse
  • Changing the Way We Think About Special Ed. Students
  • Studio Habits of Mind: Planting Seeds Towards Growth and Proficiency in the Arts – Theresa Cerceo

IMG_2147The day was complete with a discussion on PBE to learn where arts teachers in the County are on the continuum. And, two woman from the Partners in the Arts Presentation shared information about the organization and encouraged teachers to apply for grant funding.

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MALI Mega participants

Lunch was delicious and the company was wonderful! Congratulations to the MALI Teacher Leaders and to Dave Ouellette from CACE who planned a great professional development opportunities for their colleagues in the County. The drive to the County is far but it is well worth the distance. I learned a great deal and had fun talking with folks about their arts education program. I had never been that far northeast but I must say the trip was so beautiful, especially along Long Lake (ice still on) in St. Agatha. I still need to get to Madawaska – next trip to the County (Josh!).

Long Lake

Long Lake

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