Posts Tagged ‘Lori Spruce’

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Glorious Celebration!

December 18, 2018

Maine Excellence on Arts EducationLast Tuesday at the State House Complex the celebration for the Maine Excellence on Arts Education was held. The Maine Arts Commission (MAC) was proud to invite young artists and musicians from throughout the state and recognize them for their accomplishments. Over 250 attended the ceremony including 160 students from SeDoMoCha (Dover-Foxcroft) and Marshwood (Eliot) Middle Schools, 45 teachers and students from 9 Maine schools/districts. The chorus students had never met each other yet they came together and sang America, the Beautiful (arr.

Marshwood Middle School music educator Kris Bisson and SeDoMoCha School music educator Kaitlin Young share conducting America, the Beautiful

Ruth Elaine Schram) which started the afternoon program in the Hall of Flags. It was amazing and moved many in attendance to tears. The visual artists were recognized for their individual artwork by Julie Richard, the MAC Executive Director and Charles Stanhope, the MAC Chair.

Students from Marshwood, under the direction of music teacher Kristine Bisson, performed a piece called The River Sings its Song. The original lyrics and music were written by the students during a collaboration with Kris and Brian Evans-Jones. Brian is a teaching artist and a poet who did a residency during the 2017-18 school year. Students made the connection between an unused bridge in their community and their place in the world as young adolescents. During the performance students shared the story of the work which you can read below:

  • Rowan: Our school is comprised of students from Eliot and South Berwick, Maine as well as from Rollinsford, New Hampshire. There are nine rivers in these three communities, with some that flow into each other, much like our student body blending two independent states. We could easily connect to our rivers and bridges since most of us spend time near them in our towns. WE CAN RELATE.
  • Sylvia sharing part of the story

    Kelsey: We took a field trip to the bridge and river to discover the history this area has experienced. We were inspired by the natural beauty as we saw a great heron fly from its spot at the river’s edge. We wrote about the decaying bridge and the babbling river as the driving force that keeps going forward no matter what the season or changes might bring. This is how we feel about our own paths in life: nothing is impossible. WE HAVE PURPOSE.

  • Samantha: We learned about the native Americans, early settlers, and modern-day dwellers at this site. + We wrote a grant to work with a poet-artist-in-residence, Mr. Brian Evans-Jones, to help us dig deeply and gather thoughts into one complete lyric. + We learned how to create music that fit our thoughts and translate into comfortable melodies our voices could sing. + We trusted our fellow students to share our honest thoughts and ideas which led to a larger collaboration with our entire class; and later, the entire chorus of seventy-six students. WE LEARNED ABOUT EACH OTHER.
  • Julia: Our composition has two sections: one slow and solemn section for the bridge: abandoned, destined to be removed; another section for the river: always moving, reaching forward, regardless of destination, an unpredictable path.  The bridge is presented at the beginning, for this is what you see from afar as you travel the road. But surrounding the bridge, always, is the river. The river holds hope: providing power still, for our town. It is cleansing. It is peaceful. It is free. WE CREATE OUR LEARNING.
  • Marshwood Middle School Music educator, Kris Bisson, conducting the chorus.

    Eva: BRIDGING ADOLESCENCE: A RIVER FLOWS THROUGH USIN 2007, THE GREAT WORKS RIVER BRIDGE IN SOUTH BERWICK, MAINE WAS CLOSED BY THE STATE DUE TO DETERIORATION. IT WAS TOO EXPENSIVE TO REPLACE.   ONCE A SCENIC DRIVE ON VINE STREET, IT NOW COULD NOT BE TRAVELLED BY CAR, BICYCLE, OR FOOT. WHEN OUR CHORUS TOOK A FIELD TRIP TO EXPLORE, WRITE, AND DISCOVER THIS BEAUTIFUL AREA, MANY OF OUR STUDENTS HAD NEVER BEEN HERE. 10 YEARS OF OVERGROWTH COVERED THE ROAD AND SURROUNDING AREA THAT HAD BEEN DORMANT. WHAT COULD WE DO TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

  • Sylvia: PEOPLE BUILD BRIDGES, BRIDGES BUILD COMMUNITIES, COMMUNITIES BUILD OPPORTUNITIES. MARSHWOOD MIDDLE SCHOOL CHORUS DECIDED THAT WE WOULD EMBRACE OUR COMMUNITY AS OUR CLASSROOM. The metaphor of ADOLESCENCE being a BRIDGE was an easy one to relate to because there is a path before us;  yet we cannot predict the journey. And travelling the path is something we all have to do… sometimes together… sometimes alone… or sometimes with help…The elements of nature, history, and a sense of belonging are important to the human spirit. AND THIS IS WHAT WE WROTE…. WE HAVE POWER.
  • Kendra: We learned that a new footbridge for bikes and pedestrians is being planned by a local neighborhood organization. We wanted to help with this effort and held a school-wide Talent Show. We donated our proceeds to the Bridge Brigade towards the one-million-dollar cost of this project. We even had a model of the footbridge on display in our school to help spread the word about the efforts being made to keep a bridge in this location. WE EDUCATE OTHERS AND MAKE AN IMPACT. 
  • Students sharing the story, Hall of Flags, State House

    Dani: Beyond the notes, our students learned about each other and themselves. This project helped us to become reflective writers. We respected everyone’s personal ideas and many times offered encouragement to each other. We experienced creating melodies and harmonies that were designed entirely by us. We recorded melodies and emailed them to Mrs. Bisson or went to the piano to play what was in our heads so we could share with the class. And we shaped them all into one cohesive work: “THE RIVER SINGS ITS SONG”. WE COLLABORATE, AND TOGETHER,WE GROW.

  • Sabrina: In November of 2018 the State Department of Transportation removed the existing bridge. NOW THERE IS A VOID. We experienced history. We saw a bridge in need of repair. We learned that it wasn’t going to be healed. We witnessed photos of its removal. We witnessed loss. We would like to include two reflections from our chorus members to share the impact this project has had on our own development: “As we have experienced composing, practicing, and reflecting, I have developed a strong emotional connection with this piece. It symbolizes the change of our town landmark, but also the change I now see in me.
  • Kendra: “The struggles of adolescence are travelled by all of us and therefore, all can relate to this piece. The river’s emotions are brought to life in this lilting piece full of sorrow and mystery. Hope intertwines and creates crescendos of joy. Let the river sing its song!”

The performance was video taped in its entirety and posted on the Marshwood Education Foundation (one of the projects’ funders) Facebook page and by Senator Shenna Bellows. I suggest that you take a few minutes and watch and listen!

SeDoMoCha Middle School Chorus

Students, under the direction of SeDoMoCha music teacher Kaitlin Young, performed Glorious. And, incredibly glorious it was! The song was based on the composition performed by Macklemore, featuring Skylar Grey. The additional lyrics and choral arrangement was created by the SeDoMoCha Middle School Chorus which was based on their developmental transition. The audience was moved by their words and obvious passion for singing.

Olivia Larson, grade 4, Hancock Grammar School. Art teacher: Jane Snider

Thirty-six students representing nine schools along with their art teachers were recognized for their artwork which is part of an exhibit in the State House Complex including the Governor’s reception area, the Health and Human Services committee meeting room, the Education and Cultural Affairs committee meeting room, and MAC. This is a “first” time exhibit – the student work hangs in the same location as their teachers. The schools and teachers included in the exhibit are listed below. All are teacher leaders with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative. Grade 4 student from Hancock Grammar School, Olivia Larson was so excited and proud she said: “This is the best day of my life”.

  • Gorham Middle School, Teacher: Amy Cousins
  • Hancock Grammar School, Teacher: Jane Snider
  • Jonesport Elementary and Jonesport Beals High School, Teacher: Lisa Marin
  • Marshwood Middle School, Eliot, Teacher: Melanie Crowe
  • Maranacook Middle School, Readfield, Teacher: Hope Lord
  • Oxford Hills High School, South Paris, Teacher: Cindi Kugell
  • Brewer High School, Teacher: Lori Spruce
  • Richmond Middle School and High School, Teacher: Jeffrey Orth
  • Waterville High School, Teacher: Suzanne Goulet

Amy Cousins, Gorham Middle School art teacher and two of her students receiving their certificates from Argy Nestor, left and Julie Richard, right

The pride was evident in the faces of students, teachers, family members, and legislators. The art is on display at the following locations until April 31, 2019:

  • Maine Arts Commission
  • Cross Office Building second floor North and South corridors
  • Education & Cultural Affairs Committee room 202
  • Health & Human Services Committee room 209
  • State House, Office of the Speaker of the House
  • State House, Governor’s Reception Area

If you’d like a map that includes the location of each piece email me and I’d be glad to email or snail one to you.

Below is a video created by the Maine Arts Commission Marketing & Communications Director Ryan Leighton. You can see photos of the artwork at THIS LINK and photos of the day at THIS LINKI hope you’ll visit the exhibit.

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MICA Arts Ed Sessions

September 8, 2018

Three amazing sessions

This is the third blog post that provides information about the learning opportunities being happening in September from the Maine Arts Commission – the Pre-MICA At the HEART of Education, Thursday, September 27 at USM, Portland campus, Abromson Center. And, yesterday’s post with the overall details for the Maine International Conference on the Arts being held, same place, on Friday, September 28. This post includes the details on the ARTS EDUCATION track with 3 sessions for your interest. Below you will find the details.

CONFERENCE REGISTRATION

Kaitlin Young

Kaitlin Young is one of five speakers that will start off the day presenting in the Maine Artists Idea Lab. It is a fast-paced and engaging peach kulcha-style format that will knock your socks off with the newest innovations.  an Idea Lab.

Kaitlin Young is the 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year and Music Educator from Sedomocha School in Dover-Foxcroft. The room will be filled with Maine’s arts community members including educators. Very exciting opportunity for her to represent arts education among arts supporters.

ARTS EDUCATION SESSIONS

  • 11:00 – 12:00 How do teaching, learning and assessment work together in a positive, productive standards-based Visual and Performing Arts classroom? 

Description

The use of “standards” and “assessments” in visual and performing arts (VPA) education have been discussed, planned for, and developed over many years. A panel of educators will share the work they have underway. Participants are invited to join the conversation – bring your thoughts, questions, and curiosity on why standards and assessments are used in the arts.

Facilitator

Jeff Beaudry

Panel

Jen Etter, Kelly Hrenko, Michelle Kaschub, Holly Leighton, John Morris

Bios

Jeffrey S. Beaudry, Ph.D., Professor, Educational Leadership, University of Southern Maine

Jeff Beaudry

Dr. Beaudry is focused on high impact, classroom and leadership strategies, and how they relate to assessment literacy, assessment for learning (formative assessment), evidence-based practices, and STEAMSS (STEM and arts and service learning). Dr. Stewart MCafferty and Dr. Beaudry just co-authored a book, Teaching Strategies to Create Assessment-literate Learners and Educators, which Corwin Press released in May, 2018. The book provides the research base and multiple examples of practices of high impact strategies of assessment for learning. He also wrote a textbook, Research Literacy: A Primer for Understanding Research, and a book of teaching case study about concept mapping and critical thinking. Jeff passionate about the use of visual thinking in teaching, learning and assessment. He is also very proud of his time as co-director of the Southern Maine Partnership, a regional collaboration of schools and the University of Southern Maine.

Jen Etter

Mrs. Etter is a music teacher at York Middle School in York, ME.  She is currently in her 11th year of teaching chorus, general music and beginning band at YMS.  Within her district, Jen serves on the Leadership Team and played an integral role in helping to transition the York School Department to a proficiency based, student centered model of instruction and assessment.  She has presented on proficiency education at the regional and state level and is passionate about spreading the story of how this has transformed her classroom. Jen has been a teacher leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative since 2013 and in 2014 was selected to featured in the Initiative’s video series on standards-based, student centered learning.  She is extremely proud of the work of this organization and feels blessed to have had the opportunity to be involved with MALI. It is a privilege to be able to work with such amazing arts educators from around the state of Maine.

Kelly Hrenko, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Art Education, University of Southern Maine

Kelly Hrenko

Dr. Hrenko’s current scholarship is within the field of integrated arts and multimodal creative literacies. She uses her position as a teacher educator in the visual arts as a place where several intersections occur; between art and culture, community and school; and interdisciplinary education. She comes from the Midwest where she worked in public and Native American BIA schools, assisting k-12 teachers as they work to integrate the visual arts and native cultures across curricula. Dr Hrenko’s recent publication, Decolonizing Vacationland (Hrenko & Paul, 2017) in Staikidis and Ballengee-Morris (Eds.) Transforming Our Practices: Indigenous Art, Pedagogies, and Philosophies, shares examples of culture based work from Maine classrooms, in partnership with Maliseet teaching artist Mihku Paul. Additionally, Dr. Hrenko works closely with Side X Side, a local arts education non-profit, to support the integration of creative teaching practices and arts-based curriculum across k-12 subject areas.

Michele Kaschub, Ph.D., Professor of Music, Coordinator of Music Teacher Education, Director-Center for Collaboration and Development, University of Southern Maine

Michele Kaschub

Dr. Kaschub is Professor of Music and Coordinator of Music Teacher Education in the School of Music, as well as Director of the Center for Collaboration and Development at the University of Southern Maine. Prior to teaching at the college level, Dr. Kaschub taught 6-12 general and choral music in Camden, ME, and elementary music in Glencoe, IL. Her research interests include children’s composition, composition pedagogy, choral music education, curriculum design/assessment, and the professional development of teachers at all levels. She is co-author of Minds on Music: Composition for Creative and Critical Thinking (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009) and Experiencing Music Composition in Grades 3-5 (Oxford University Press, 2016), co-editor of Composing Our Future: Preparing Music Educators to Teach Composition (OUP, 2013) and Promising Practices in 21st Century Music Teacher Education (OUP, 2014), and has contributed chapters to several pedagogy texts and articles to multiple professional journals.  Michele is currently the Chair & Academic Editor of Music Educators Journal, the most widely disseminated journal for music practitioners in the world. An active clinician and guest lecturer, she has presented research papers and workshops at conferences throughout the United States and abroad.  

Holly Leighton, B.S., Art Education, K-12 Mattanawcook Academy, RSU 67, Lincoln

Holly Leighton

Ms. Leighton is an art teacher at Mattanawcook Academy, RSU 67, Lincoln, Maine.  Holly began her teaching career in the district 20 years ago at the Ella P. Burr Elementary School by developing and implementing the first art program at the elementary level in RSU 67.  Holly is currently in her 4thyear as the art teacher at the high school. Over the past 4 years Holly has participated in district courses and workshops led Dr. Beaudry and Dr. Stewart MCafferty on assessment literacy which has become an important part of her teaching philosophy.  She has continued working with them by attending USM Literacy Conferences and co-presenting at workshops. Holly believes in creating a classroom environment of trust and respect where formative assessments are welcome and occur continuously between teacher and students and between students themselves.   Holly is proud to have become a MALI Teacher Leader and a Teacher Leader at Mattanawcook Academy.

John Morris

Mr. Morris is a dance educator and teaching artist based in Bridgton, Maine. Born and raised in Maine, John performed and taught dance for many years in New York City, before living in the United Kingdom for four years with his wife and stepdaughter. John promotes creative exploration and expression in his teaching, specializing in improvisation and inter-disciplinary collaboration. His writing on creativity and dance has been published in “Creativity Across Domains: Faces of the muse,” edited by James C. Kaufman and John Baer. In addition, he has created a resource for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Resource Bank on creativity and dance. He also has a background in large-scale arts assessment, as a consultant for the NAEP arts assessment and the A.P. Studio Art assessment. John is a member of the MALI design team, and is on the Maine Teaching Artists Roster.

  • 2:00 – 3:00 When Teaching Artists and Arts Teachers Connect, Students Win  Description: During the past 4 years, teaching artists and arts educators in the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative have collaborated to provide meaningful, purposeful and authentic learning opportunities for students. Educator collaborations provide opportunities for learners that can surpass what a teacher, working alone, can offer. Hear the stories from these collaborators, bring your questions, share your experiences and imagine the possibilities in more Maine schools and communities.

Description

During the past 4 years, teaching artists and arts educators in the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative have collaborated to provide meaningful, purposeful and authentic learning opportunities for students. Educator collaborations provide opportunities for learners that can surpass what a teacher, working alone, can offer. Hear the stories from these collaborators, bring your questions, share your experiences and imagine the possibilities in more Maine schools and communities.

Facilitator

Kate Smith

Panel

Brian Evans-Jones, Kris Bisson, Tim Christensen, Lori Spruce, John Morris, Carmel Collins

Bios

Kate Smith

Mrs. Smith is an energetic music teacher currently teaching music to preK-third grade students in South Berwick, Maine. Kate earned her music education degree from USM and a Master’s degree in Technology in Education from Lesley University. Kate was honored as 2014 York County Teacher of the Year for her passion for innovation and creativity. Kate serves as a teacher leader and design team member for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, the Parade Coordinator for South Berwick’s annual Lanternfest and a coordinator for Central School’s farm-to-table program. Kate lives in southern Maine with her husband and three children.

Brian Evans-Jones and Kris Bisson

Mrs. Bisson is Director of Choruses and a music educator at Marshwood Middle School in Eliot, Maine. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Education from the University of Southern Maine and has served as adjudicator and guest conductor for several district choral festivals. She is a teacher leader for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, and a member of the National Association for Music Education and the American Choral Directors Association. Her passion for student engagement is reflected in each class she teaches.

Mr. Evans-Jones is a former Poet Laureate of Hampshire, UK, now living in South Berwick, Maine. He studied Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Warwick, UK, and received his MFA in Poetry from UNH in 2016. His poems have appeared in magazines and competitions in America and Britain, and he was the poetry winner of the 2017 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers. Brian has taught creative writing to children and adults since 2005, and has run poetry residencies and workshops in schools, historic houses, prisons, libraries, and other community and educational venues.

Tim Christensen

Mr. Christensen is a well known ceramic artist, and teaching artist, living in the woods of Downeast Maine. In his practice working in sgraffito on porcelain, he seeks to understand and record the complexities of the systems operating, and changing, in our world today.  In his teaching practice, he helps facilitate learning through the use of visual art as a language, supporting students, teachers, and administrators as they unlock the wonders of our world through art and visual literacy. He has worked in clay since 1999, and been teaching since 2003.

Carmel Collins

Ms. Collins is both a visual arts and dance teacher at Lake Region High School, Maine.  She teaches a variety of arts classes that include ceramics, drawing, fundamentals and the latest addition graphic design.  The dance program offers dance showcase (primarily a performance class) and dance academy, as well as supporting a dance outreach program which serves the district schools. She has served on several educational boards and acted as teacher leader for MALI several times, and served as a member of the reviewing committee in the formulation of the NCCAS. In addition to her classroom duties Carmel also serves the district as K-12 fine arts coordinator and serves on the teacher evaluation committee.

John Morris

Mr. Morris is a dance educator and teaching artist based in Bridgton, Maine. Born and raised in Maine, John performed and taught dance for many years in New York City, before living in the United Kingdom for four years with his wife and stepdaughter. John promotes creative exploration and expression in his teaching, specializing in improvisation and inter-disciplinary collaboration. His writing on creativity and dance has been published in “Creativity Across Domains: Faces of the muse,” edited by James C. Kaufman and John Baer. In addition, he has created a resource for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Resource Bank on creativity and dance. He also has a background in large-scale arts assessment, as a consultant for the NAEP arts assessment and the A.P. Studio Art assessment. John is a member of the MALI design team, and is on the Maine Teaching Artists Roster.

Lori Spruce

Mrs. Spruce is a visual art educator at Brewer High School in Brewer, Maine. She teaches multiple art classes including Art 1, Painting, Photography, Graphic Design, and Advanced Placement Studio Art.  Lori received her Bachelor’s Degree in Art education and Studio Art from the University of Maine in Orono. She is proud to have been instrumental in creating the digital media arts program that is now offered at her school that includes a traditional black and white photography darkroom as well. She is also the curriculum leader for the visual and performing art department at Brewer. She is a teacher leader for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, a member of the Maine Arts Education Association, and Art in the Heart of Maine. Lori lives in Lamoine, Maine, with her husband and son and is a painter in her artist time.

  • 3:15 – 4:15 Empowering Your Voice for Arts Education 

Description 

We often underestimate the power of our passion and voice for arts education. Yet, we’ve seen students, educators, artists, arts organizations and community members find their voice, build their stories and messages, back them up with research and evidence, and become leaders and advocates for arts education in powerful ways. In this session, we will explore ways to empower our voices, use helpful resources that are just clicks away, and be on our way to making an impact with our hopes and dreams for the arts in education!

Presenter

Ms. Ring is Executive Director of the New England Institute for Teacher Education and teaches graduate level courses to educators across the state of Maine. She co-founder of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative and has served on the core leadership team since it was established in 2010. Catherine completed her Education Leadership studies at the University of Vermont and received her Master of Arts from Vermont College of Norwich University. For her thesis, entitled “Education and the Arts, Toward Creative Intelligences,” she researched the role of the arts in learning and has worked closely with classroom teachers, helping them to integrate the arts into their regular curricula. As Principal, Catherine helped to bring to her school district the Kennedy Center’s National Partnership program. She assists school districts throughout Maine with differentiated instruction, arts integration, and gifted and talented programs. Catherine is the 2014 Advocate of the Year by the Maine Art Education Association. Catherine returned to the art classroom in 2016 and is teaching on Isle au Haut. 

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Wisdom from Maine Arts Educators

September 4, 2018

From the voices of veteran visual and performing arts educators on starting a new school year

Make it a delicious school year!

Whether you’re just starting to teach or you’ve been add it for 50 years or somewhere in between you might be excited out of your mind to start or having the back to school dreams and asking yourself “how the heck am I going to do this?!” or somewhere in between. I asked veteran teachers “what’s your message for new and veteran teachers starting off the school year?” Here they are – WORDS FROM THE WISE and EXPERIENCED! It’s an amazing, amazing (and amazing) collection. THANKS to everyone who contributed!

Collectively below is the wisdom of 654 + 65 years of teaching. These are not in any particular order!

Kate Smith – 20 years
Central School, South Berwick Music Educator, Grades PreK-3
-The first friends you should make are the secretaries and the custodians.
-Drink plenty of water.
-Advocate for transition time between classes (see above).
-Don’t take yourself too seriously.
-Take the time to know your students.
-Find an Arts mentor. (MALI teacher leaders are great!)
-Build/maintain/reach out to a network of teachers for a sense of community and just-in-time support.
-You are going to mess up and wish you could forget it all. Write it down instead. Some day it’ll make you laugh like crazy.

Jake Sturtevant – 13 years
Falmouth High School Music Educator
If there is one thing I have learned to do over the course of the time I have been teaching it is to breathe. The power of breath is so important, and it takes moments to do. I still have those feelings of being overwhelmed and always reaching for the surface of the water beneath the pile of to-dos and hope-to-dos, but now I just try to pause and take a breathe and allow that feeling to settle and often it moves further from me.

Jen Etter – 11 years
York Middle School Music Educator 
My biggest words of advice starting a new school year and something that I am attempting to be mindful of is to not lose sight of the big picture getting bogged down in the details. Education is ever changing and constantly evolving and that can be frustrating at times. Keep focused on the big picture and what you know to be important and always keep students at the center!
Patricia Gordan – 37 years
RSU#14 Windham Raymond, Music Educator
  1. I do not just teach music to children. I teach children through music.
  2. Whenever I get to the point where I begin to think I know what I’m doing, I gain more wisdom and realize I still don’t know what I’m doing. (Keeps me humble.)
  3. When I have a student who is a behavior challenge I try to get to know them better and build a relationship with them outside of class.
  4. Music is a vehicle for expressing all thoughts and emotions. It can be scary to share the sad and angry songs with students. Will I get negative feedback from parents? “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” is a song about death! Should I use it? Of course we should be tactful and careful, but songs in music class should cover all emotions.
  5. A musician must have the heart of a gypsy and the discipline of a soldier. -Beethoven – Some students will be really good at the heart thing and some will be really good at the discipline thing. Stretch them toward the other skill.
  6. Sometimes I have a hard time with the word, “fun.” Music is fun but it is also hard work. I want the students to have more than “fun.” I want to feed their souls. I want them to feel the natural high that comes from producing a fantastic product that is the result of extreme effort.
  7. Especially for elementary teachers – Listen very, very closely. The “music” is in there somewhere. 😊
Iva Damon – 10 years
Leavitt Area High School, Turner, Visual Art Educator
Going into this year I am really resonating with going “back to basics”. We’re here for the kids as they are at the heart of everything we do. Remembering that at the end of each day, I am able to make connections and help achieve steps in their learning. At the same time, this year I am going to work harder at self-care and making sure to take time for myself.
Holly Leighton – 10 years
Mattanawcook Academy, Lincoln, Visual Art Educator
Teaching is not something you learn and then implement for the next 30 years. It is a constant.

The more I learn the more I realize what I don’t know. It is the “what I don’t know” that drives me to learn more. This is how I grow as a person and educator. It is a continuous cycle that inspires a fresh outlook to each new school year. Take workshops and conference opportunities, no matter how long you have been teaching. After 20 years of teaching I am always come back with something I can use to positively affect student learning and engagement.

Cindi Kugell – 29 years
Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, South Paris, Visual Art Educator
Know your “Why”. When we focus on our reason for teaching, and for me it’s because there is nothing cooler than working with kids, it gives our lives purpose, clarity and focus. Working with kids keeps me young, inspired and energized and the gratification that I get from students excitement centered around the arts fuels my passion. I truly feel that teaching is my purpose.
Hope Lord – 28 years
Maranacook Community Middle School, Winthrop, Visual Art Educator
Each school year is a new opportunity for teachers to inspire students, innovate, take risks, collaborate, and celebrate the arts.
Adele Drake – 15 years
Hampden Academy Visual Art Educator
I believe in always being open to learning and receiving help and support from others.
Jane Snider – 26 years
Hancock Grammar School Art Educator
While working outside all day in my gardens to end my summer season I was thinking about all of my gardens, how much they had grown since early spring. I realized how much my teaching is like my gardening! Many plants are now in need of a rest, much like my students and I are in late Spring! I have nurtured the seedlings, plants and bushes throughout the season. I have carefully and thoughtfully helped them showcase their beauty! They’ll be back next year, bigger and brighter! Tomorrow I return to school to nurture my students and showcase the beauty of their learning through their art! I’ve had my rest and restored my spirit, I’m ready to carefully and thoughtfully begin a new season for my students! What do they need to grow and flourish?
Sue Barre – 25 years
Waterville Senior High School Music Educator 
Every year (on the advice of my first principal) I work to learn something about each of my students that has nothing to do with music. This process keeps me on my toes and it is also fun for my students to share their non music passions. I am often uplifted, sometimes saddened, and every so often astounded, to the response I can get from “share three things you did this summer.” My personal goal this year is to greet my students every day at the door……they deserve my attention, whether they are making music or not.
Carmel Collins – 20+ years
Lake Region High School, Naples, Dance Educator
Education today is like working with a living breathing organism. It is forever in a state of flux; morphing, refining, retracting, reshaping……Practice being flexible, adaptable and innovative, learn to let things go and move on, keep light on your feet and don’t get stuck in the mud!
When a parent or guardian becomes angry or frustrated with you, always remember that to them they are fighting for their child, a child they have loved and nurtured since birth. Most of the time they are not angry with you, rather it is the situation they are frustrated with and they are looking for help. Try to stay focused on the issue and don’t make it personal. Practice this and they will become your friend and loyal advocate.
Melanie Crowe –  16 years
Marshwood Middle School, Eliot, Visual Art Educator 
The anticipation of a new school year brings up so many emotions – a changing of the seasons, realizing summer is coming to an end, wiping sand off of my sandals for another season, and the vegetable garden bearing fewer treasures. Although, the excitement of meeting new students and having a chance to bring in a fresh approach and atmosphere to the classroom is a just as much a welcome adventure today as it was entering my first year 17 years ago. I am honored to share the art studio with my middle school artists, the opportunity to engage, challenge, and expand their minds is such a precious experience. The years go by in a blink of the eye, the students faces change, but the desire to light the flame of love for art grows stronger each year. I look forward to working with my colleagues integrating art in as many avenues as I can, bridging the gaps from one content to another so students can see how their learning is not in isolation but interconnected. When students can see how valued they are in the art studio, they begin to believe how valuable their art making experience is. I wish you all a wonderful school year working with the youth of Maine and beyond!
Lindsay Pinchbeck – 12 years
Sweetland School, Hope, Founder, Director, Teacher 
New Beginnings
An opportunity to start again
Still jitters – every year, conditioned since a child
Now knowing
The mix of wonder, unease and transition
Breathe
Fear not the unknown
Anthony Lufkin – 12 years
Friendship Village School, Prescott Memorial School, Union Elementary School, Rivers Alternative Middle School, RSU 40 
Every year is similar, but never the same. Each summer goes by faster and faster, but despite wish for more R&R, I always look forward to the new school year. Art and teaching are similar to me in that they are both all about making connections. In art we attempt to connect with artists of the past to understand their ideas, or we try to connect people with our own ideas and perspectives through creation. Teaching effectively requires making connections with students in a way that they can relate to, understand, and appreciate what we are teaching. If we lose connection, not only does artwork become insignificant to us, so does the purpose for learning. Each school year is an opportunity to make connections in new ways. Being in relatively the same position for several consecutive years gives me the insight for identifying ideas and processes that will relate to specific students. As I prepare to start my 12th year of teaching art, I am looking forward to “reusing” successful lessons, opportunities, and connections I have been able to make thus far.  However, I am also looking forward to experimenting with new ideas to better convey ideas, and give students new ways to understand, and more importantly connect, to what art has to offer.
Andrea Wollstadt – 20 years
John F. Kennedy Memorial School, Biddeford, Music Educator
Allow yourself to get caught up in the excitement. Students involved in music have a passion for music. Their joy and excitement is infectious. These kids are PUMPED UP about playing in an ensemble or participating in a music class. Whatever worries or anxieties you might have about the upcoming school year, make sure you give yourself a chance to catch some of their enthusiasm.
Lisa Marin – 22 years (and this is her last)
Jonesport-Beals High School & Jonesport Elementary Visual Art Educator     
Words of wisdom for the new teacher: I remember that first year being very excited, nervous and worried about doing a good job for my new students, the school system, and my colleagues. I tried to get as much input as I could from my fellow art teacher friends, who were very gracious and generous with advice and materials. I was told to relax, have fun, and realize that it takes a few years to make the program your own. So, cut yourself some slack and you’ll be great. Oh yes, and make friends with the custodial staff. Their help over the years has been invaluable.
Words of wisdom for the veteran teachers: It may sometimes be hard to keep up the energy and enthusiasm in the face of new and increasing demands on your time that have little to do with quality teaching for students. I’ve tried to combat this by finding ways to shake up my lessons. I’m looking for ways to incorporate materials I’ve been unfamiliar with or slightly intimidated by to blow out the cobwebs! It’s been fun and I often find I am helped in my success by my students. We say we are all in this together!
For the soon to be retiring teachers (like me): Plan ahead for what you’d like to do post retirement. That will make the transition so much easier. This sounds like a no brainer but is often overlooked. As much as you might love your job remember, you do the job, you aren’t the job. A new teacher’s approach can be wonderful. We were once new teachers as well with fresh ideas. Enjoy your new year!
Shalimar Chasse – 25 years
Wiscasset Middle High School Visual Art Educator rk Middle School Music Educator 
I like to start right off with hands on- avoiding the loooooonnnnnnnngggggggg and boring “expectations” talk that mostly sounds like “wha wha wha wha, wha wha, wha wha” to students just waking up after a summer of sleeping in until noon. I refer students to my on-line site and a unit binder that holds class expectation information. I send them home with a parent guide to art class and encourage them to review this with their parents and return with a parent note confirming their time together and comments or questions. I encourage students to ask me any question to help them acclimate to our space and class while we are doing our first day art activity. Students know what is expected, some need reminding or clarification or simply to know they might not get away with something they have tested. They come to art to Do art- so I like to meet their expectations hoping they might return the gesture.I love the newness of a brand new school year- with no mistakes in it. I like to think of the upcoming year and classes as the best we will experience yet.
Allie Rimkunas – 14 years en Etter
Great Falls Elementary School, Gorham, Visual Art Educator 
Love your students. The most difficult ones need the most love. As an art teacher, I rarely know the home situations, or past trauma that these little ones might have or are still dealing with. I try to keep that in mind when I know a difficult student is coming into my room. Every day is a new day and a possibility for new positive interactions.
I have been teaching for 14 years, and every August brings a new batch of school anxiety dreams. Never fails. I figure that if I didn’t get them then I am not doing my job and changing it up enough.
Catherine Ring – 65 years
Isle au Haut Visual ArtEducator 
Share your passion for learning with children. It’s contagious!
Jane Kirton – 20 years
Sanford High School Music Educator 
Be Compassionate . . . Be consistent . . . CommunicateBe compassionate – Music is one of the few subjects that connects the heart and the brain. Showing compassion towards my students and my colleagues is who I am. The world is filled with so much pain, we don’t know what our students are going through at home. I take great pride in the fact that from day one I tell my students that my classroom is their home and we are a family.  No bullying is allowed. If there is a drama free atmosphere in the room, our music will sound better!  Show you care, smile (even though you are a nervous wreck). Don’t forget to be kind to yourself.  Take care of you – exercise, drink plenty of water, yoga, anything to relieve stress.

Be consistent – Consistency, in my eyes, is critical in good parenting. Set your classroom code of cooperation on day one and stand by it! Treat everyone the same. Discipline can be challenging for a new teacher. Discipline allows a successful start for the entire class. I always remind myself I can always ease up a bit as we get into the year but hold firm to your rules. Keep up with the paperwork (yes, there are certain things we need to do as part of the job which doesn’t have anything to do with what we teach – just “get it done,” don’t put it off.)

Communication – I always tell my students that I’m not a mind reader. I encourage them to tell me what’s going on. It is also important to communicate with them and their parents – concert schedule, paperwork, etc. Communicating with your colleagues is also important. I recently read a post where a new teacher was critical of older teachers in their district in the ways they were teaching. Not a great way to start!  We’re all in this together. Reach out and communicate.  Communicate with your administration, janitors, secretaries, etc. Ask if you don’t know!!

Rob Westerberg – 32 years
York High SchoolMusic Educator 
It’s not about the product, it’s about the process. Precious few are going to remember your concert or art exhibit or play or dance recital three years from now. But dozens of years from now every single participant will remember their journey with you to create that product, and whether or not you caused them to flourish academically and blossom personally. If you take care of those two things – on a daily basis – the rest will take care of itself. Academic without personal is tedious. Personal without academic is cheating them. Both combined is spot-on and will leave you at the end of the day feeling like it was all worth while. Because it will have been.
Charlie Johnson – 44 years
Mount Desert Island High School Visual Art Educator 
Get to know your learners; it is through positive connections that a teacher can discover that which is not always overt from an individual. We are all unique and we are all special, and if you endeavor to learn about your students in a positive manner, it goes a long way toward developing a teacher/learner relationship that benefits both parties.
I’m just starting my 45th teaching year, and I’m just as excited about my new students and classes as I was my first year, because I haven’t fallen into “the same old thing” trap and have many new pieces to explore with my students!
Barbie Weed – 14 years
Gray-New Gloucester Middle School Visual Art Educator 
I always find that the best way to begin a new school year is to forge connections with students as soon as possible. Whether students are returnees for new to the school, taking a little time to get to know something about them sets a positive tone for the whole year. I’m excited for the new experiences that students will bring to my classroom.
Jean Phillips – 30+ years
Wiscasset Middle High School English and Drama Educator
Life is an occasion; rise to it.
Lisa Ingraham – 12 years
Madison Elementary School Visual Art Educator 
Plan meticulously, but keep your mind open to teachable moments. Some of the best learning experiences in my art room began with a student question, interest, and/or aha! that changed our direction for that day.
I’m looking forward to a great, creative, messy year!
MaryEllen Schaper – Retired in June with 42 years
Dance Educator 
Take your work seriously; don’t take yourself too seriously. The work is VERY important, but you can be replaced.
For new teachers, yes, you want to develop positive relationships with your students, but they are NOT your friends. If you need friends at work, develop friendships with your colleagues.
My former superintendent, used to say, “we are there to teach ALL children. Parents send us their best. They don’t keep “the good ones” home”.
We never know the baggage a student brings to school, so listen and be kind. Help students learn that that baggage may be a reason, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse by the student, the teacher, or the parent. There’s a difference.
Applicable Lin Manuel Miranda “Hamilton” quotes:
“Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room?” You might not be. I have learned A LOT from my students.
“I am not throwing away my shot.”  You have amazing opportunity to influence lives now and beyond anything in your wildest dreams, so go in EVERY DAY and give 100%.
“I am looking for a mind at work”. Teach your students to think outside the box, ask questions, and how to find answers, even if they might not be what you had in mind.
“Talk less. Smile more.”  Breathe. listen. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll see and hear.
“I wanna be in the room where it happens”.  You ARE in the room where it happens every day. Savor it. It goes by quicker than you’d think!
Lori Spruce – 10 years
Brewer High School Visual Art Educator 
Contribute to the knowledge and skills that you have not only in your own content area, but also expand out to involve your colleagues content areas as well. By doing so, you help not only yourself,  but also students and teachers can learn and grow in the same way. By getting out of your comfort zone and content area, the relationships that you build are invaluable and help build the confidence needed to model what you learn.
Pam Chernesky – 26 years
Mt. Blue High School, Farmington Visual Art Educator 
Start each school year open and ready to build a new community! Bring your best self and a positive attitude to what you do. Every year there will be new initiatives and demands on your teaching and your time, but the real focus should be meeting your students and sharing the excitement of creating and learning with them. Remember that you have content knowledge, passion, and experiences to share and that your students want to learn from you. Don’t become bogged down by the initiatives, administrative demands, or even the details of lesson plans. Offer challenges and take risks in your classroom! Laugh with your students!  Have fun!
Kris Bisson – 16 wonderful years!
Marshwood Middle School, Director of Choruses 
No matter what type of learners you have in your classroom, every student needs understanding.

When I’m excited about what I’m teaching, my students are excited about what I’m teaching!

Theresa Cerceo – 15 years
Dr. Levesque Elementary School & Wisdom Middle High School, MSAD # 33 Visual Art Educator
Trust your instincts, value your strengths and keep yourself open to learning new things.
Danette Kerrigan – 13 years
Sacopee Valley Middle School Visual Art Educator 
Every year is different, but poses the possibility of new discovery and greatness. Every year is the same – the same bright expectant eyes, sleepy heads, hugs and growth. Starting a new year is never boring, always keeping me on my toes, yet is as exciting as opening a new box of crayons… the possibilities are endless. Fashions change, expectations change, requirements change, students stay the same – still needing reassurance, encouragement, celebration and a champion.
For new and veteran teachers – breathe. Embrace each day and reflect at the end on what went well and be honest about what did not. Remember that everyone has something to offer, even those adults who may try your patience. They too, got up this morning, hoping to do the right thing. Assume good intentions. Always apologize – even to students – especially to students – when you have had a bad day and spoke shortly when you shouldn’t have. Remember that you are making an impact you don’t even know about yet.
Rick Osann – 15 years (retiring this year!)
Bonny Eagle High School Media, Theatre, and Visual Arts Educator 
Be sure to be yourself. Teaching can be really stressful and it’s easy to try to be different to either be the “perfect teacher” or to get your students to “like” you.  The most important thing is to feel comfortable in your own skin.  Students of any age recognize quickly if you’re not being true to your core beliefs. Students will respect you if you just be yourself.
Bill Buzza – 25 years
Edward Little High School Music Educator 

Some words of advice for the beginning of the year:

#1 – Take time to get organized. We get so busy and there are many demands on our time. Using an organizational system that works for you allows you to spend more time teaching.
#2 – (New teachers) Find a mentor and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s much more efficient to learn from others than trying to reinvent the wheel.

#3 – Don’t be afraid to say “No” but keep an approachable demeanor. Many times students try to learn / push a teachers limits. We need to be committed to our response and consistent so students know what to expect.

#4 – Build relations with everyone; students, administrators, parents, colleagues, custodians. There will be a time when those connections will pay great dividends.
What’s your advice to new and returning educators? Please email me yours and I will collect them for a future blog post. How will you include and support new teachers in your school/district? Please introduce them to the Maine Arts Education blog – its easy to subscribe (on the right side, half way down). And, invite them to join the community by joining the arts education list-serv by sending me their email address.
Before we get to the “wise words” from Maine, Nancy Flanagan taught K-12 music for 30 years in Michigan. She blogs for Education Week, the TEACHER section called TEACHER in a Strange Land (you may want to follow her on twitter) and on August 6 she wrote a post called Ten Non-Standard ideas About Going Back to SchoolIt’s worth the read (after you read what Maine arts educators have to say)!
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Arts Ed Conference and MICA

August 20, 2018

September 27, 28 – USM, Portland

The 2018 Maine State Teacher of the Year, Kaitlin Young, will provide an engaging keynote at the Arts Education Pre-Conference: At the HEART of Arts Education and provide seeds of inspiration to help you create action steps for your work at the school and/or community level. Attend as individuals or consider bringing a team from your school and/or community. The day will start and conclude with creative art and music making.

The Pre-MICA conference At the HEART of Arts Education will take place at the Abromson Center, USM, Portland on Thursday, September 27, 8:00 – 4:00. Registration is $50  and includes lunch and the opening session of the Maine International Conference on the Arts on Thursday evening in Hannaford Hall.

The Pre-MICA Arts Education conference participants will:

  •     learn skills to improve teaching and learning in the arts;
  •     collaborate among the arts disciplines: dance, media arts,  music, theater, visual arts and creative writing;
  •     network with other educators and reconnect with old friends;
  •     make connections between school and community, including arts organizations, artists, and other arts education supporters.

The conference will be a joyous occasion to learn together and celebrate who we are! We are educating the future, the next generation of artists, arts educators, and appreciators of the arts. To do that we need to:

  • Instill purpose/passion
  • Ensure High Quality Instruction
  • Provide relevant and real-world learning experiences
  • Empower our students to become the teachers of their generation.

THURSDAY AGENDA

OPENING – Welcome

Story of the South Berwick Lantern Festival

Carol Trimble Award Presentation

MORNING SESSIONS  

ART, MUSIC, and DANCE MAKING Attendees will select between Music/Dance session and Lantern making session.

If you choose the Music Making/Dance session participants will have the opportunity to learn:

  • Basic African drumming and singing

  • Simplified steps to an African dance

FOLI – The word used for rhythm by the Malinke tribe in West Africa. Foli is not only found in Malinke music, but in all parts of their daily lives.      FOLI: there is no movement without rhythm

If you choose the Visual Art – Lantern session participants will have the opportunity to learn:

  • How in some cultures light holds a symbolic meaning and is an integral part of traditions
  • Using your imagination and creativity to create a unique lantern.
  • Opportunities to learn from each other how to bring these experiences back to your  classroom and or community.

Bon Festival – In Japan this annual festival honors deceased relatives while people spend time with their living family members. At the culmination of the festival families place lanterns on the river to be carried away symbolizing the peaceful return to the afterlife.

Both sessions will culminate in a cross cultural experience and open MICA 2018 with a celebratory processional.

KEYNOTE – The 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year is Kaitlin Young who teaches music at SeDoMoCha School in Dover Foxcroft

LUNCH – Midcoast Music Academy performance

View 15 version of the Ashley Bryan film

AFTERNOON SESSION

Choose Your Own Adventure – participants will be guided through creating a plan to use when they return to their schools and communities. There will an opportunity to share so participants can learn from each other and go back to their individual schools and communities with new ideas.

CLOSING

Participants will lead MICA processional using music/dance and lanterns made earlier in the day to the opening of the Maine International Conference on the Arts reception in Hannford Hall. The opening keynote will follow.

The $50 registration includes the arts ed conference, the opening reception, keynote and performances.

MICA CONFERENCE – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 8:00 – 5:15

Opening

Maine Artists Idea Lab: Five speakers using the fast-paced and engaging pecha kucha-style format will knock your socks off with their newest innovations. Speakers include:

Lucas Richman, Music Director, Bangor Symphony Orchestra
Rene Johnson, Executive Director, Theater Ensemble of Color
Erin McGee Ferrell, Visual Artist
Kaitlin Young, 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year
Jeremy Frey, Passamaquoddy basketweaver

20 Professional Development Sessions in 5 Tracks Running Concurrently:

LEVERAGING INVESTMENT. Learn to attract and leverage greater investment through corporate sponsorships, development planning, capitalization and more.

BUILDING CAPACITY. All you need to know on strategies for sustainability and increased impact, from an intensive on strategic planning with Julie Richard to a session on The Role of the Arts in Communities in Crisis.

VISIBILITY OF THE ARTS & CULTURAL SECTOR. Discuss ways to increase awareness of creative opportunities, as well as their value to communities and local economies. Participate in a new, two-part workshop by MICA 2016 superstar Matt Lehrman, Opportunity Everywhere, Parts I & II. Or attend a dynamic session hosted by DataArts/The Cultural Data Project on ways to connect your data to stories about your mission and impact, for more effective communications with key stakeholders.

ARTS EDUCATION & LIFELONG LEARNING. Participate in sessions on fostering PK-12 arts education and lifelong learning programs, including Creative Aging and Traditional Arts.

PROMOTING CULTURAL TOURISM. Gather the information you need to enhance experiences and leverage cultural tourism. Hear from organizations on their successes creating experiences outside of traditional venues, or attend a Rural Community Arts Development session facilitated by Maryo Gard Ewell.

Pop-up performances throughout the day.

ARTS EDUCATION SESSIONS

How do teaching, learning and assessment work together in a positive, productive standards-based Visual and Performing Arts classroom?

The use of “standards” and “assessments” in visual and performing arts (VPA) education have been discussed, planned for, and developed over many years. A panel of educators will share the work they have underway. Participants are invited to join the conversation – bring your thoughts, questions, and curiosity on why standards and assessments are used in the arts.

Facilitator – Jeff Beaudry – Associate Professor, Educational Leadership, USM – Overview of Summative and Formative Assessment and Moderator

  • Jen Etter – Music, York Middle School
  • Kelly Hrenko – Visual Art, USM
  • Michele Kaschub – Music, USM
  • Holly Leighton – Visual Art, K-12, RSU 67
  • John Morris – Dance, Teaching Artist   

Brian Evans-Jones and Kris Bisson

When Teaching Artists and Arts Teachers Connect, Students Win

During the past 4 years, teaching artists and arts educators in the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative have collaborated to provide meaningful, purposeful and authentic learning opportunities for students. Educator collaborations provide opportunities for learners that can surpass what a teacher, working alone, can offer. Hear the stories from these collaborators, bring your questions, share your experiences and imagine the possibilities in more Maine schools and communities.

Facilitator: Kate Smith, Central School, South Berwick Music Educator

  • Brian Evans-Jones, Writer Teaching Artist and Kris Bisson, Marshwood Middle School Music Educator 
  • Tim Christensen, Ceramic Teaching Artist and Lori Spruce, Brewer High School Visual Art Educator
  • John Morris, Dancer Teaching Artist and Carmel Collins, Lake Region High School Dance Educator  

Empowering Your Voice for Arts Education 

We often underestimate the power of our passion and voice for arts education.  Yet, we’ve seen students, educators, artists, arts organizations and community members find their voice, build their stories and messages, back them up with research and evidence, and become leaders and advocates for arts education in powerful ways. In this session, we will explore ways to empower our voices, use helpful resources that are just clicks away, and be on our way to making an impact with our hopes and dreams for the arts in education!

Presenter: Catherine Ring, Visual Art Educator, Arts Education Consultant, Co-Founder of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, Maine Art Education Association 2014 Maine Arts Advocate of the Year.

If you have any questions please email Argy Nestor, director of arts education, argy.nestor@maine.gov.

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MALI Teacher Leader Story: Lori Spruce

May 15, 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 Lori for sharing your story!

Lori Spruce has been teaching visual art to grades 9-12 at Brewer High School for the past 10 years.  She currently teaches Art 1, Honors Art 1, Graphic Design, Photography, Advanced Photography, Painting, Advanced Art and AP Studio Art. In the past Lori has taught printmaking and sculpture. In addition, Lori is the department curriculum leader. 

What do you like best about being an art educator?

I like empowering students through the study of art by assisting in their discovery of meaning in the visual world around them. I feel that being an art educator helps students make connections between intellect and emotion through the communication of ideas generated from that experience. It’s exciting to watch that happen and to see them make those connections in other areas of their life and learning.

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

Lori with AP student caricature study (of Lori)

I believe that the three keys to any successful visual arts education program are:

  1. to promote the discovery of new knowledge through creative activity,
  2. to motivate learners by considering the interests and activities of the particular age group I am working with, and
  3. to instill empathy by encouraging learners to solve problems that connect to the larger world.

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

I have found that the assessment I use in my classroom has helped my students understand their own growth as opposed to comparing themselves to others. Through reflection, my students better understand the artistic process that was involved in the end product rather then just the skill. I believe it gives them the opportunity to see where improvements can be made and therefore build on their own ideas. Also, I feel that my assessments emphasize the importance of how the mistakes they made, and hopefully overcame, ultimately contributed to the learning as well. So many art students are afraid to challenge themselves because of the fear of making a mistake and by having that be a part of the assessment process, I’ve noticed more learners letting go of that fixed mindset.

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

I feel the benefits of becoming a teacher leader through the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative has mainly invigorated me at a critical point in my teaching career. My school has gone through many changes in the past few years and sometimes that can be draining. Working with other arts educators, sharing stories and teaching practices, and then applying that to my own curriculum has motivated me not only in my classroom, but to share what I have learned with colleagues even outside of my content area. This past year, I have worked closely with our science department leader by attending a STEAM conference at the RiSE center at the University of Maine and worked on developing ideas for future projects. We now have common language that we use in our classrooms. Even some of the students have picked up on it. One recent student told the science teacher during instruction he sounded like “Mrs. Spruce”!

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of the visual art program that I have helped build at Brewer High School. Since I have arrived, we have designed and moved into a new art suite with three beautiful classrooms built to accommodate a diverse art curriculum including a new digital and traditional photography program and digital media classroom. We had to really advocate for the importance of this space and our program and I am proud that the community supported it.

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

Lori Spruce presenting a workshop with Tim Christensen at the MALI Mega in March 2018

Budgets, and time. In the above question I spoke of how proud I was that our community supported our new art suite. However since that project was approved, we have lost 1 ½ art teachers. Because of that, we offer less upper level electives then we used to which means students can’t always get in to the classes they want or need if they are interested in pursuing a career in art. It is not just our department affected by these budget changes but it still is hard to see happen.

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

I have twin boys, now young men, one of which has cerebral palsy. My son has a lot of physical needs and still lives at home with my husband and I. He has an amazingly busy life that requires much of our assistance. I went back to school to get my art teaching certification when my boys were in elementary school. I started teaching full time when they were in high school. I can say for sure that supporting my family and their needs along with starting a new career took a lot of energy and commitment. I can also say that so much of that experience has contributed to the type of educator I am today.

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

Lori making art at the MALI summer institute

To continue making art and taking courses. I could use the ‘making art more’ advice myself. I find it really hard to find the time but in the rare event that I do, I am so much calmer and patient with my own students. Remembering what it is like to be a student and take part in a creative process is important. A few years ago I committed to a collaborative art show with one of my AP students. I regretted it the minute I said yes but I knew there was no turning back. It was one of the most amazing experiences and it meant so much to my student. After it was over, I got an incredible thank you letter from him. It was worth every minute I stressed over preparing artwork for it!

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

Hmmmm….boy I think this has been the toughest question. I would have to say that I would like to bring back the art position that we lost. Our classes are much larger now and we are unable to offer as many upper level electives which are really important in a high school visual arts program. I have to teach more preps which makes it harder to focus on curriculum development. This past year I have spent much of my teacher leadership working on arts integration at the high school level. With another position, I’d love to see an arts integrated or design thinking class where students can combine content areas to come up with solutions to real world problems.

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

I’m pretty politically active but I always wish I had done more. Especially when I see decisions made that I don’t agree with or that negatively affect our students and our schools. It’s so important to education, our environment, our communities and beyond!

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Learning at all Levels

June 6, 2011

Life-long learning

Alice's students perform

I am so fortunate to be able to meet passionate educators throughout the state who provide arts education opportunities for students in and out of school. And quite often I get to meet students who share their learning with me and their excitement for the arts. Two weeks ago while on the listening tour with Commissioner Bowen I met music teacher Alice St. Clair at the Beatrice Rafferty School in Pleasant Point. Alice has been there since January where the studeBnts at the reservation school have gone without music for 5 years. It was amazing to see and hear her students perform after only 5 short months. Alice also voluntarily serves as the Artistic Director of the Eastport Strings. You can read about an upcoming event they are having that you can attend for contact hours by clicking here.

Lori in her classroom

While traveling from the listening tour in Calais to the MLTI conference in Orono I had a few extra minutes so I stopped at Brewer High School to congratulate art teacher Lori Spruce in person whose 9th grader, Morgan Forrest was a finalist for the Doodle 4 Google contest. Lori shared more good Fnews. School Arts had a contest for Trading Cards which some of her students entered and one, Morgan Littlefield received Honorable Mention. There was a teacher category as well which Lori won first place. Congratulations Lori and to your student!

Lunch after the docent session

Last week I was pleased to visit the Farnsworth Art Museum for a session with the docents. This was my fourth visit with the docents in about 32 years. I was invited by docent Shirley Stenberg and enjoy meeting with the group who are interested in learning more about working with students who visit the museum on field trips. I look forward to seeing the docent handbook that is being created for their use. I understand the summer Lincoln Center Institute International Educator Workshop for teachers will be held for the second year at the museum.

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Doodle 4 Google – Yahoooo!

May 5, 2011

Congratulations go out to grade 9 student at Brewer High School

9th grader Morgan Forrest learned at a school assembly that she is one of 40 finalists for the Doodle 4 Google contest. More than 107,000 art students from all over the US submitted designs. You can vote for Morgan’s design by clicking here http://www.google.com/doodle4google/vote.html#g=g3/

The theme for Morgan’s design was “What I’d like to do someday”. Her untitled work represents “my thoughts of living in a world with peace.”

Congratulations go out to Morgan’s art teacher Lori Spruce who said the entire school department is proud of Morgan’s accomplishments. “She has done an amazing design,” Principal Becky Bubar said. “The message behind it is: It’s all faiths and beliefs. This is one world; we should be able to figure out a way to all live together.”

The national winner will receive a $15,000 college scholarship and his or her high school school will be awarded a $25,000 grant.

The Maine art students who ranked in the top 400 for the Doodle 4 Google contest this year are: Mckenna Picard and Victoria Curro, St. James School in Biddeford (K-3); Emily Jones, Shapleigh Middle School in Kittery and Rose Warren, Hall Dale Middle School in Farmingdale (grades 4-6); Samantha Nadeau, Orono High School, and Forrest, Brewer High (grades 7-9); and Jessica Richards, Orono High School, and Courtney Pratt, Sanford Regional Technical Center.

You are invited to vote until 3AM on May 14th. You can read more in the article written by Nok-Noi Ricker in the Bangor Daily News, May 4th at http://new.bangordailynews.com/2011/05/04/living/brewer-high-school-student-designs-google-doodle/

Information for this article was taken from the BDN article.

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