Posts Tagged ‘MAC’

h1

MALI Teacher Leader Story: Will Stecher

June 19, 2018

Music Educator

This is the LAST 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 Will for sharing your story!

Will Stecher is a music teacher working with students in grades PreK through grade 4; including beginning band in RSU19 – Newport and Corinna Schools. Will is I finishing up his 4th year in his current position and his 7th year of teaching overall. He is responsible for around 460 students between the two schools, teaching general music and 4th grade band.

What do you like best about being a music educator?
The moments when the kids begin to see and feel why we do this thing called art, when they know the song so well that they aren’t even thinking about who is watching them or whether it’s a cool thing to do. The moments when they realize that making music in any form is fun and they want to do it more. The moment when a kid who has been working hard on a song finally breaks through and plays it just right. When kids come into a performance feeling good and regardless of the how that performance went, they are feeling good about what they have done.
What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?
Literacy of your discipline is extremely important, being able to talk about what you are doing when you perform, or discuss the techniques of playing an instrument or what style you are creating within is a key to arts education. Great instruction is also a key, so that kids have a good foundation in the discipline no matter where they go in their schooling or in life. Passion from the instructors the kids have in the arts is a third key. We wouldn’t be in this line of work if we didn’t love our material and transmuting our love so that kids can make it something they love or like to be a part of, is extremely important too.
How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?Assessment has allowed me to see where students are doing well and where they need assistance. It helps students to see these things too, so that ideally, they can become stewards of their own improvement. As artists, we live a life of assessment. always looking at the way things are becoming or happening right in front of us. Ideally, we are passing that on to our students.
What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?
The people I have met and connected/reconnected with in my involvement with MALI have been the biggest benefit. It can make such a difference in the life of a teacher to know that all you have to do is reach out and someone will answer and help in a way that is pertinent and useful. MALI has done that for me.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of the students who continue on in the arts due to the experiences they have in my classroom. Some of these are students who decided long ago they were going to be musical and those kids are great. Just as sweet though, are the kids who haven’t made that decision yet and still participate fully and completely and begin to decide that they want to sing in the middle school chorus or audition for show chorus or keep on playing that instrument because they want to, not because someone is making them.
What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?
Paperwork and time. Paperwork essentially creates a second job for the teacher when the time could very well be spent on improving and creating meaningful instruction. And I always wish that I had time for those kids just starting out with band instruments to really secure fundamentals before they move on.
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 frequently been told by supervising teachers, administrators and others that I seem to get along with students at all levels, that I know how to relate to them. I feel that this is something that I have not come to just by chance, though circumstances of my life have certainly contributed to it. I think it has come about through experiencing all types of people and learning about all sorts of things, even those that don’t seem to have a connection to our profession.
Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?
Remember to make time for the things that remind you why you teach. Join a band, sing with a group, draw or paint or create or whatever you do. Don’t lose touch with your art because it can help ground you even when you seem to be floating off.
If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?
Professionally, I think the $500,000 would have to go at least partially toward teaching materials and making sure that I and the other teachers in my area had everything wanted or needed to teach the kids I have to the best of my ability. Orff instruments, band instruments, the whole nine yards. SmartMusic for the band kids. A piano lab at the high school. Funding to improve the coming auditorium space in our district
On a personal level, that is a big number and I don’t rightly know what I would do.
Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets? At 94, I don’t imagine I’ll have too many regrets. I think that even though I could have chosen so many other paths in my life, the one I have continually chosen is the one that I was meant to be on.
h1

In Today’s News

June 18, 2018

Union Elementary School

For the past several weeks artist Randy Fein has been working side by side with art educator Anthony Lufkin and the students at Union Elementary School to create a community themed clay mural. The project was partially funded by the Maine Arts Commission. Check out the article and photographs from the Village Soup at THIS LINK.

h1

MALI Teacher Leader Story: Kattie Sweet

June 12, 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 Kattie for sharing your story!

Kattie Sweet-Shibles has been teaching grades 7-12 (soon to be K-12) at the Upper Kennebec Valley Jr/Sr High School for 11 years. She has taught Career Education, Math, Visual Arts and Theatre classes. She currently has 60 students and her courses include 2D Art, Artists’ and their Lives (Dual Enrollment Class), Freshman Seminar and a Pre Algebra class0.

What do you like best about being a music educator?

Connections-the multiple meanings of the words.

The connections I make with students, current and former. The connection of art to community. Connections I make with other artist and teachers, creating a dialogue on how to bring art and education to all students.

Also the connection, or the ah ha moments students get when they see how the world of art connects to their life or the world around them. My favorite moments are when students say, I know understand part of the world because of something we studied in your classroom.

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

  1. Focus Choice- freedom of students to choose a method to meet the classroom goals.
  2. Real World Experience with the art- via visiting museums, speaking with artist, taking part in an art show.
  3. Passion- Passion for the Arts and education from the students, the instructor, and the community.

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

Yes, because of accountability. I use it to hold my self-accountable to meet the goals of the art room, and I hope my students do the same.

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

Again Connections, with being from Rural Maine, I can feel so isolated and question if I am going in the right direction. I hope to reach out more this year especially since I am moving to a new chapter of teaching younger students.

What are you most proud of in your career?

One thing that jumps out to me is the opportunities I have been able to provide to my students to go beyond our community to see Art in the “real” world. At my time at Valley, I have had two Art Trips to NYC, two other trips to Boston, and various trips to Colby Art Museum or the Portland Museum of Art. Another achievement I am proud of is obtaining my Master’s Degree in Education and therefore being able to offer Dual Enrollment Art Classes for the last three years so our students can receive High School and College Credit for our classroom.

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

Time! Time! and Time! and a bit of money.  I sometimes wish I could clone myself to prep and experiment more with different materials and mediums plus have unlimited supply of art materials, so students can experiment without the fear of wasting money.  I believe so much of learning can come from failure and experimenting.

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

This is a difficult question because it seems as if everything in the artroom comes across as “luck” or circumstances to the outside world who doesn’t see the process of learning and teaching. I asked my students this question and they came up with the idea of how easily I sketch out my ideas, making them look like the students’ final drafts. I can remember the struggle I had learning the rules of drawing and the continuation of working on the skill, so I can sketch well on the fly. Another thing is the ability to be creative.  I think some people believe you are born creative or not. I am not naturally creative, but I understand the process of research, and am always searching for inspiration which leads to creativity when I put my own spin on something I have found.

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

Be brave, take chances, allow yourself to step back. Take care of yourself, “you can not pour from an empty cup.”

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

There is so much. I probably would want to sit on it for a year, to really make a formal plan to get as much out of the money as I could.

Education wise:  Build and Create a space for the Arts in our community would be high on the list. I would love to create more travel opportunities for our students. Plus I would love to connect more with working artist bring them into our community.

Personally wise: I would love to create an artist escape in the Upper Kennebec River Valley Region. Open up my home and barn to create artist studios. Sort of like Old Lyme in CT, or like Vincent van Gogh’s dream for the Yellow House in Provence but of course with less chaos…or should I say a lot less chaos.

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

Gosh at 94, I hope I have no regrets to list. My current regrets, I hope will be understood by a wiser self and connected more with the path I had to take to get were I am. But I do wish a bit that I could cut myself a bit more slack on the little things that go wrong. Plus I hope to look back and remember that I did the best with what I was given at the time, learn and evolve, advocate with care for everyone involved, be a little more flexible but not allow my integrity to falter.

h1

Maine International Conference on the Arts

June 6, 2018

USM – September 27, 2018

THIRD BIENNIAL MAINE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE ARTS

Join the Maine Arts Commission at the University of Southern Maine Portland Abromson Community Education Center, where we will explore art making, arts education, capacity-building strategies and skills, and more – all specifically for Maine artists, arts educators, and arts organizations.

Please join us Thursday, September 27 at USM in Portland for the opening reception with entertainment at 5 p.m., followed by Maryo Gard Ewell’s 7 p.m. keynote.

Schedule and Early Bird registration

Thursday, September 27 | 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. 

      • Pre-conference Sessions – Discussions on Rural Community Development, professional development for Arts Educators, and Maine craft and traditional art apprenticeships  
      • 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. – Opening Reception: A celebration of the arts with keynote speaker and performances
      • Keynote Speaker Maryo Gard Ewell– Rural Community Development in and Through the Arts

Friday, September 28 | 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

      • 7:30 a.m. – Continental Breakfast/Networking
      • 8:15 a.m. – Maine Artists Idea Lab : 6 speakers using the fast-paced and engaging pecha kucha-style format will knock your socks off with their newest innovations. Confirmed speakers include Lucas Richman, Music Director, Bangor Symphony Orchestra; Rene Johnson, Executive Director, Theater Ensemble of Color; Erin McGee Ferrell, Visual Artist; Kaitlyn Young, 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year; Jeremy Frey, Passamaquoddy basketweaver;
      • 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – 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
        • Visibility. 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. Participate in sessions on fostering PK-12 arts education and lifelong learning programs, including Creative Aging and Traditional Arts
        • 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.
        • 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.
      • 12:30 p.m. – Maine Arts Awards Luncheon hosted by ArtsEngageMe
      • Pop-up performances throughout the day
h1

MALI Teacher Leader Story: Kaitlin Young

June 5, 2018

Music 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 Kaitlin for sharing your story!

Kaitlin Young has taught music within the RSU 68 school district in Dover-Foxcroft, Me. for the last eight years. Currently she teaches music to students in prekindergarten through fourth grade at SeDoMoCha Elementary School. She is also the choral director of the SeDoMoCha Singers at SeDoMoCha Middle School. Kaitlin is the 2017 Piscataquis County Teacher of the Year, and the 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year.

What do you like best about being a music educator?

Music is pretty cool. I love that I have the unique pleasure of providing experiences for my students that are at times indescribable through words. I love to watch their faces when they hear something they have never heard before, or even better hear something they know and love in a new way. Moments when they laugh uncontrollably at a silly song, tear up as they connect to a piece of classical music, or beam with pride when they have created something uniquely their own.

I love that I get to share in these experiences that elicit strong emotional connections through music with my students. I love that I get to bring joy through song and movement, and that in my classroom kids get to be kids. Wonder and awe are essential to the human experience.

I love that music education provides students an outlet to express themselves as well as a way to connect to their community both locally and globally. I love that as an educator, regardless of content, what we do is about fostering relationships. I love that I get to build these relationships over several years and experience all of these moments of joy with my students.  We are engaged in this journey together.

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

First, always keep an open mind.

No matter what role we hold within a Visual and Performing Arts program, (student, teacher, administrator, community member, etc.) it is essential that we continue to be open to possibilities. Whether it be growth and learning, actively sharing and listening to others ideas, thinking creatively about solving a problem, or simply being willing to try something new. Our ability to capitalize on those unexpected teachable moments will help us continue to engage others within our programs and help them to reflect our communities.

Second, build trusting relationships.

Relationships are the foundation of a strong education, and are essential to the human experience. We learn the most from people we trust and respect. The arts innately foster empathy, connections, and community. As a valued colleague once told me, “the arts bring people together.”

Third, be willing to persist and advocate for what you love!

We must set goals with our students and colleagues and actively pursue them even when the going gets tough. Advocacy is sharing what we love on behalf of those we love. And one of the best ways to advocate is empowering our students to find their voices and advocate for their future.

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

Assessments are a tool to help us to know where we are, where we are going, and clarify how we might need to get there. Once I grasped the concept that assessments could be informative and diagnostic (which felt much different from when I was in school!) it changed the way I viewed learning the learning process. I love being able to use consistent language to identify the skills necessary to help my students develop and grow into strong musicians. Assessment provides the opportunity to improve feedback and promote positive conversation surrounding learning goals and growth for both students and teachers!

Utilizing assessments to share what students need to know and be able to do to demonstrate their learning has allowed students to take control. Assessment has also helped us to advocate within our school community as we challenge the belief that music education is just for the talented few.

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

Working with such an inspiring and passionate group of educators brings out the best in everyone! Whether it is the facilitated discussions within professional development sessions, informal conversation surrounding our craft at lunch, or follow up phone calls/zoom meetings with friends I always leave feeling uplifted, supported, and encouraged to challenge myself to grow as a professional.

My growth throughout my teaching career has been supported through various opportunities provided by the work of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (formerly Maine Arts Assessment Initiative) and I continue to look forward to the connections that I will be able to make and the doors that may open through this continued experience.

What are you most proud of in your career?

My kids. It might sound cliche, but my husband and I do not have biological kids (yet…growth mindset!) and I love that I get to share in many special moments with all of them each and every day and over the course of many years!

I take pride in all of the small moments where they accomplish something they didn’t think was possible or when they make a fantastic connection that gives greater purpose and meaning to what they are learning. Over the last year it has brought me great joy to share their thoughts and ideas with others as I have presented at conferences as I advocate on behalf of our profession. I continue to be inspired by their words and I am proud that I get to share their ideas!

Kaitlin at the Hall of Flags in Augusta with the arts teachers honored as the 2018 county teachers of the year. (l to r) Kaitlin, Sagadahoc: Christine Del Rossi, Mt. Ararat High School, Knox: Anthony Lufkin, Friendship Village School, Prescott Memorial School, Union Elementary, and Waldo: David Coffey, Belfast Area High School and Troy Howard Middle School

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

Paperwork, pressure, and misperceptions oh my! While I am a strong advocate for assessment and high quality education I do agree that often times I can get caught up in the administrative aspects of my job. In a time of “evaluation and accountability” there can be intense pressure to justify your worth, or the worth of your program, based on the misperception of what music education is or “should be,” not upon what we know, as professionals, to be best for our students. Music education, and what music classes might look like, continue to evolve. We have, hopefully, moved further away from some of the sit and get or “mouth the words” experiences that others have had. It can be hard to alter or influence the expectations of those who may have had a poor music experience, do not understand, or simply do not value what it is that we do. That can lead to logistical challenges including itinerant or unrealistic schedules, a less than ideal physical work environment (like being on a cart!), or unsupportive administrators and/or communities. However the need to understand and explain (often way more than we would like) the importance of what we are teaching and why we are teaching it sets us up to be some of the most reflective and effective advocates for our students!

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

Take the advice that you give to your students each and every day in your classrooms.  Actively listen. Be reflective and patient. Play nice with others. Dream big, think different, work hard, and be kind.

On a recent trip to Washington, D.C. representing Maine as the 2018 Teacher of the Year Kaitlin takes the opportunity to have a conversation with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

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

I would love to start a scholarship for my students to have the opportunity to travel to explore musical opportunities/experiences beyond our local and state community on a consistent basis. I would also like to take my husband on a road trip across our country, specifically to see all of the National Parks. His affinity and admiration for the beauty that simply exists through nature always inspires me to pause and appreciate the small moments.

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

I wish I would have been more diligent about writing down the small special moments from the classroom during the beginning of my career. Mostly because my memory is not what it used to be, but also because in education it is the small moments that fill up our buckets. That’s what I will look back upon and smile about the most!

Thank you Kaitlin for representing Maine educators as our 2018 Maine State Teacher of the Year. 

h1

Marshwood Middle School

June 4, 2018

Performing tomorrow

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative participants, teacher leader Kris Bisson and teaching artist leader Brian Evans-Jones have collaborated on a project that will be premiered tomorrow night, June 5 at Marshwood Middle School.

The premiere performance of “The River Sings its Song”, funded by the Marshwood Education Foundation will take place on Tuesday, June 5, from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Marshwood Middle School’s seventy-six member chorus has worked the entire school year to research, discover, and collaborate to create a unique curriculum-based study of our local community through the Great Works River and Bridge in South Berwick, Maine. The students worked with artist-in-residence, Brian Evans-Jones, to create their thoughts and then with their Choral Director, Kristine Bisson, to take their words and compose an original piece of music to be sung by the Grade Seven and Eight Marshwood Middle School Chorus.
The students are donating $200.00 from their annual Middle School Talent Show to the Great Works Bridge Brigade to help support the fundraising efforts of the Brigade to build a timber-frame footbridge where the bridge once was accessible. They will be presenting the check to members of the Brigade this Tuesday evening at the concert.
h1

MALI Teacher Leader Story: Dorie Tripp

May 29, 2018

Music 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 Dorie for sharing your story!

Dorie Tripp is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early/Middle Childhood Music. For the last nine years she has taught PK-5 general music and beginner band in RSU #38, (Maranacook Schools). She splits her time between Manchester and Readfield Elementary Schools where she teaches approximately 400 young students each week.

What do you like best about being a music educator?

The great thing about being a music teacher, is having the privilege to watch my students develop over time, and create a love for music that will last them a lifetime. I have the pleasure of teaching my students year after year, for as many as seven years. I love that I get to help plant the seeds for love and success in the performing arts. It gives me so much pride when I see my students in Middle or High School concerts, musicals, and festivals. Watching my students shine, find their voice, feel accepted, or even find a passion is what keeps me going.

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

There are so many aspects to a successful performing arts education, which makes it difficult to pinpoint any one thing. As we all know, educational strategies and practices aren’t “one size fits all” and what works for one school community may not be appropriate for another. I know this from experience, as in the last nine years of my career I have worked in two very different communities. One being a large, urban school district with challenges like over-crowded schools, homelessness and poverty, and overcoming language barriers (to name a few). The other a small, rural district, small class sizes, and a high level of community involvement. Both do a tremendous job to address challenges and celebrate successes every day, but often in very different ways. If I had to choose three overarching themes, however, I could easily name community, collaboration, and advocacy.

Dorie presenting at the MALI Mega conference, Oxford Hills, March 2018

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

I have found assessment to be helpful as an informative teaching tool. The moment I shifted my thinking in using assessment solely to “grade” my student’s achievement to tracking student growth, my practice has become much more effective. I use formative assessment every day in my classroom to understand what my students are learning, to solve problems, and provide more practice with the skills embedded in our curriculum. I use assessment data to differentiate my instruction to the needs of my students, guide my unit plans, and adjust my pacing. I have absolutely gained a more focused picture of my students, and how they learn as individuals.

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

I started with the Maine Arts Leadership initiative as a music teacher just looking for quality professional development (PD). I have always had great luck with workshops at Maine All-State Festival, but I wanted PD that I could attend earlier on in the school year. I found myself at a MALI mega conference, and was not disappointed! I was able to network with other local teachers, while taking away information and strategies that I could apply in my classroom right away, before the end of the school year.

After that, I became curious about the Teacher Leadership Initiative, and filled out an application for Phase 7. When submitting my application, I had no idea how much growth I would make as an educator in just one year. The support I received from MALI has been incredible. I was able to create a personalized plan of action, which included sharing my elementary teaching practices with others in a workshop, and saw it come to life. Through this process, I have found a network of supportive colleagues who inspire me to contribute all I can to the profession. For me, personally, the greatest benefit is that I have found my voice, and have been empowered to use it.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of my students. Although I have been in this profession for nine years, I am still humbled by my students. They grow, and learn, and change into these amazing human beings with talents and ideas that just blow me away. It’s really nice to realize that you’ve had a role in that, even if just a very small one.

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

The more obvious things that get in the way of doing a better job or being a better teacher is time and money. I feel like all educators, no matter the content area, can relate. The less obvious thing that gets in the way is the lack of collaboration or idea sharing with other educators. It’s easy to stay inside our own little bubble, and never open ourselves to other ideas or partnerships. I believe that reflective practice is best when it’s combined with observations and mentorships with other great teachers. This is often difficult to practice as arts educators, however, because even if we want to branch out and team up with/learn from others, so many of us would have to go outside our school or district. Not all of us have other colleagues in our buildings who do what we do. This is why organizations like MALI are so beneficial. We need the time and resources to get together with other educators to share ideas, network, and work together on projects that can/will help us do our jobs better.

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

As you can probably tell, I am a big fan of educator collaboration and support. I try to team up and work with others, in and outside the arts, whenever I get a chance. During my concerts each year, the majority of my school staff come back and volunteer their time to help me with set up, the shuffle of students, and tear down. I always hear “You’re so lucky to have such supportive parents, colleagues, and administrators”. Yes, it’s true that I am lucky, but I also work really hard for this fortune. I strive to maintain positive work relationships with my colleagues. I volunteer to help out with other events that are not music related. I try to stay flexible and understanding when other school activities disrupt my schedule, just like my events sometimes disrupt others. I share activities and materials with other classrooms, collaborate on cross-curricular activities, and volunteer to cover a duty now and again. I even give private saxophone lessons to our evening custodian once a week, as a small token of thanks for all the extra work he puts in setting up and tearing down equipment for our six performances each year.  All of this is extra work, but I understand that without this collaborative environment, I am just one person, and would not be able to complete all of my tasks alone. All of this is in the best interest of my students, and ultimately my program.

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

I would say, don’t get too caught up on standards and assessments. They are important factors of what we do, but they aren’t everything. They are just tools we use to see and reach the big picture goals. Listen to your students, and don’t be afraid to make learning fun. Make it feel good for students, and they will develop a life-long love for music.

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

After paying off some school debt (I know I’m not alone here…), I would definitely use it to help students access music. I would purchase instruments and pay enrollment fees for students to participate in music festivals, camps and programs. My family went through great hardships when I was growing up, and I was fortunate to have a music teacher who made sure that those financial troubles would not interfere with my musical potential. I am so grateful for her, and others who made it happen. Without them, I would not be the music educator that I am today.

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

I try not to have regrets. All things that have happened in my life were for learning purposes. However, I hope that I won’t look back and worry that I spent too much time working about professional evaluations and certification requirements, and that I can say I always worked hard to give my students what they deserve.

 

%d bloggers like this: