Posts Tagged ‘Leonard Middle School’


Arts Learning Grant Recipient

July 25, 2018

Leonard Middle School – Old Town

Leonard Middle School art teacher and MALI teacher leader Adele painting student

Adele Drake became a Teacher Leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative during phase 7 (2017). The work she has underway is a great example of approaching curriculum and assessment to meet the needs students in a very authentic way. She addresses their needs of today. Adele’s ongoing collaborative work is helping to prepare them for the future, all the while empowering them for the challenges of their world. Not to mention this is REALLY REALLY COOOOOOL! Read on…

In September 2012, the Leonard Middle School in Old Town art teacher Adele Drake and school counselor, Tracey O’Connell began the Leonard Middle School garden. Adele and Tracey shared a vision that small organic gardens were the optimal way of providing high quality produce to their local community and that this collaborative effort would create a nurturing environment where students would thrive. In the process students would be empowered by creating a space, the garden: a functional work of art which produced food.

Their first consultant for the project was Kate Garland from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. She agreed to meet and share her considerable expertise. She counseled them to get a soil test and helped them select a suitable location for the garden. The university has been a great resource in many ways. Kate has presented to the school’s garden club and art classes many times. They have had many volunteers from the master gardeners program and visited the university green houses.

After getting approval from the superintendent, they started digging. They soon found that digging was not an option due to debris and clay deposits in the soil. Faced with these challenges, they opted for raised beds. That first fall, they started with one 3’ X 3’ raised bed, a 50 pound bag of compost and several bulbs of garlic which they planted. Their dream of having a school garden had begun. That spring their first crop of garlic emerged from the earth.

COA volunteer Teagan and Susan preparing materials.

Adele wrote her first grant which was a service learning grant to construct an earthloom which would be the centerpiece of our garden. As the Leonard Middle School art teacher Adele has found the garden has provided a way of integrating the arts with the study of other disciplines. They have had so much support for this endeavor that they have built a garden shed, a greenhouse, several raised beds and fencing. Students designed the garden layout, help to create a gardenloom, made mosaic tile stepping stones and have most recently designed functional sculptures which collect water and beautify the garden at the same time. In a community where food insecurity is a reality the garden as a focal point for the curriculum makes sense.

Talk about trust!

This year they worked with Susan Camp to grow gourds into self-portraits. This project was funded by the Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning grant. Susan’s work is a natural fit to the already established goals of Adele Drake’s arts curriculum. The lesson concept: Harvesting Identity / you are what you eat was the focus throughout the process. Susan invited the to be co creators; they made plaster casts from their faces, made molds, and used these molds to grow gourds. The gourds are flourishing in the garden and after harvested in the fall will be used as wall hangings and made into bowls to be used at the culminating event which is a community feast.

Adele reflects: Large-scale food producers shape crops, such as watermelons, in order to make packing and shipping more efficient. Our project subverts this practice, shaping gourds to create portraits that are individual and reflect both the character of the subject and the growing fruit.

I see how engaged these students have been in the process and I know that I am getting them to think differently about food, art and the future.

I hope that students will be involved in growing food for their communities and that they will understand the importance of food and art in bringing communities together.

Trusting enough to take a selfie together – even if he can’t see.

I have learned a lot about formative assessment and the need to collect evidence which is triangulated from different modalities. I plan to evaluate students on their use of media and techniques and on their ability to analyze the process of using these materials and techniques.I will collect this evidence through observations, student reflection and teacher feedback.I will creating opportunities to analyze the process and the product with rubrics. Students will also reflect on where the process takes them through a critical response process which will help them grow as artists.

College of the Atlantic student volunteer in the program, Teagan reflects: Waiting!

I was amazed at how both students and teachers worked together and communicated throughout the process of making casts. I felt that everyone was looking out for each other. I believe that this sense of collaboration is needed for engaging in broader dialogues within food systems. I see this project as a way for people to take action creating new relationships with food and community.

Leonard Middle School Principal David Crandall reflects: Gardens grow communities, not just of plants, but of students. Students that are engaged in the school garden are focused on growing plants and also growing themselves. Being a part of fostering life and working with peers to maintain a productive garden is a motivation that encourages attendance and engagement at our school.

Our Garden Club has an active role in managing our school garden and they continue to work toward more and better resources to support their work. Under the guidance and leadership of Tracey O’Connell and Adele Drake, the students have sprouted into successful young gardeners that grow vegetables, flowers, relationships and communities. The group dreams big and we can’t wait to see what blossoms next!

I’m sure there will be a great celebration when students see their own faces on the gourds this summer. This is a unit that the students will always remember!

Imagine what you might do with funding from the Maine Arts Commission Arts Learning grant?! Grant application deadline will be in March 2019 for the 2019-1920 school year. Watch this blog and the Maine Arts Commission site for more information.


Waiting patiently for the paris-craft layer to dry before taking them off.

Example of the gourd about to grown into the mould.

Example of the gourds in the garden once they’ve come out of the mold.


MALI Teacher Leader Story: Adele O’Brien-Drake

April 17, 2018

Visual Art Educator

This is one of several blog posts in 2018 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 7 Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about each leader. CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 93 Teacher Leaders and 8 Teaching Artist Leaders.  CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories.  Thank you Adele for sharing your story!

Seven of Adele Drake’s 20 years of teaching have been at Leonard Middle School in Old Town. She has been designing and implementing a curriculum for 300 students, in grades 6-8. In addition she serves as a buddy/advisor for 7th graders. Adele also coordinates the Operation Breaking Stereotypes Initiative and the School Garden. Adele says: “There are so many things to love about being an art educator but if I had to pick one it would have to be the fostering of critical and divergent thinking skills”.

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

Three keys to a successful visual arts education are the appreciation of art, the love of making things and the need to express ideas by making things.

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

Assessment has been helpful in my classroom in that it helps students to develop an understanding for the vocabulary of visual art. It also helps students to reflect on what they have accomplished and set new goals for themselves.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

Being involved with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative has benefited me because I have had the opportunity of learning so much from other art teacher leaders. MALI Teacher leaders have inspired me to want to share the work I do as an art teacher with others.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am really proud of the partnerships that I have created with various cultural institutions which has supported my art program and helped me to provide opportunities for my students.

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

What gets in the way of being a better teacher is usually not having enough time or money or space to do things.

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

One of the things I have worked really hard at is writing grants and fundraising so as to have available basic supplies for my students. It isn’t just luck or circumstance that has enabled me to raise the money to build a raised beds, a garden loom, a green house, garden shed, mosaic tile stepping stones, fencing and a water barrel collection system.

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

The advice that I would give teachers is that 50% of being an effective teacher is the ability to build respectful relationships with students.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?                                     

If I were given $500,000 to do whatever I wanted I would use it to create an arts integrated curriculum that focused on the school garden.

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

If I were 94 years old I would look back and regret that I didn’t laugh more and listen more.


Maine Association for Middle Level

October 29, 2012


This past Thursday and Friday I attended the MAMLE conference at Sugarloaf where arts educators were well received in the workshops they presented on a variety of topics. I have included a bit of information below on each of the sessions where the arts teachers presented.

Allied Arts in the Standards World

Sacopee Valley Middle School art teacher and Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leader Danette Kerrigan and Medomak Middle School music teacher Julie Sanborn participated in a panel presentation on the work they are doing at their respective middle schools and in their classrooms. The other panel members Lisa Hogan from Mt. Ararat, Barbara Greenstone from Boothbay and Phil Brookhouse from MLTI also made connections to the arts. Friend of arts education, Jill Spencer facilitated the session.

Panel members: Lisa Hogan, Julie Sanborn, Barbara Greenstone, Phil Brookhouse, Danette Kerrigan

Steel Drum Band

Julie also presented a session with the Pantastics, the school’s steel drum band. The band performs at community events and has traveled to other schools and events in and out of Maine. The students played several pieces at the start of the conference as well as in an individual workshop. Other middle school teachers were invited to play one of the drums as well. The members of the band promised to write a blog post on their involvement playing the steel drums. Look for that in the future.

How Can I Teach for Creativity?

Danette was joined by MAAI leadership team member Bronwyn Sale from Bates College for a session on creativity. They made quite a team with Bronwyn presenting foundational information on the creative process, creativity, and creative problem solving. Danette shared the practical components of addressing the topic in a classroom setting and provided participants with hands-on exercises including SCAMPER which stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Magnify, Put to Other Uses, Eliminate (or Minify), and Rearrange (or Reverse).

Bronwyn Sale and Danette Kerrigan

Service Learning and Music Appreciation

Leonard Middle School music teacher Shianne Priest had students join her to share a service learning project that she her music appreciation class has undertaken for two years now. The 8th graders this past year raised $1600 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They collaborated to write the lyrics for a song that 9th grader Lily Muscatell took a step further and wrote the music for and performed. Selling the CD was one part but hearing about their learning and how the experience affected them was amazing.

Shianne and Lily listen while the 8th graders explained the project.

Thank you to everyone for their fabulous work and sharing the opportunities that you afford Maine students!


In Today’s News

May 23, 2012

Make-A-Wish, Service Learning, Music Appreciation Class

Shianne Priest, Leonard Middle School (Old Town) Music Director has worked with her students this year to create a song called “Stars that Shine” to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  This is the second year that Shianne has involved her students in a service learning project. You can read the article that describes the process by clicking here. CDs are available for sale by contacting Shianne Priest at or call 827-3900. The article is from the Bangor Daily News, May 22nd edition.


Music at MAMLE: Sugarloaf

October 21, 2011

Maine Association for Middle Level Education (MAMLE) conference

Leonard Middle School music teacher Shianne Priest

I left my home before daylight yesterday to arrive at Sugarloaf Mountain for the annual MAMLE conference. One of the morning sessions I attended was called “Sevice Learning Through Music: Students Tell Their Story”. It is a great example of giving young adolescents enough space to take the lead with their learning. Leonard Middle School music educator Shianne Priest, provided the stage for the work after she took a graduate course where her learning included service learning. At first Shianne couldn’t imagine how service learning could work in the music classroom. After many questions, thinking, and soul searching she was forced to change the way she taught that provided the groundwork for the student and project success. It wasn’t a teacher centered learning experience for this music appreciation class, that is mandatory for all 7th graders who do not take another performing arts class (band or chorus). Shianne’s part was setting the stage, guiding the work, giving up power, and trusting that kids will take the lead. She is just thrilled at the outcome and wishes she had discovered service learning 14 years ago!

You might be asking or wondering what is Service Learning? In a nutshell it combines community with classroom curriculum. The key components of service learning are:

  1. Academic integrity – Project has clearly defined learning objectives that relate to state learning standards and local curricula.
  2. Apprentice Citizenship – student learn about civic engagement through  partnerships with active community members working on local needs.
  3. Student ownership – students share in decision-making with teacher, and teacher shares in learning with students. Teacher is a partner and coach, rather than an expert.

Singer/songwriter Lily and service learning project students presenting at MAMLE conference

Students in Shianne’s class brainstormed a list of over 100 ideas and narrowed down their choices to 4 causes before voting and determining that Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) would be their focus. Their mission was to raise awareness and educate others about AIDS. The challenge was how to connect music education to the idea. After much work they determined a pathway for that as well. Students researched AIDS and how to let others know about it. They found quotes by individuals with AIDS and decided to use those quotes in a song to raise awareness. They enlisted the help of singer/songwriter 8th grader Lily Muscatell to create the song. The students and Lily found the quote that moved them the greatest: “we are not dying from the disease but we are dying from being become untouchable”. And “Untouchable” became the title of the song. Students raised money for recording time and the New England School of Communications (NESCom) at Husson University donated 2 hours of studio time. The IT classes at Leonard Middle School designed the CD label and students sat for hours at local businesses to raise money for the cause. They have copywrited the song and donated the money (over $800.00) to AIDS research and relief with the Elton John AIDS Foundation. They’ve offered the copyright to the foundation and are waiting to hear from them. The CD is available for $3 and you can contact Shianne about purchasing it. WABI TV5 did a story which includes Lily performing the song on the project so you can click here to listen and learn more.

There are service learning grants available and one of them is from State Farm. Available for K-12 schools, $1000.00, the due date is November 9th, called the Good Neighbor Service – Learning Grants.

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