Posts Tagged ‘Fern Desjardins’

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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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