Posts Tagged ‘MALI’

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Arts Accessibility

January 14, 2019

What does it mean?

This post is reprinted with permission from Shawna Barnes’ blog located at THIS LINKShawna is a Teaching Artist Leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALi). She is a ceramic sculptor and mixed media artist who loves sharing her passion with others. Shawna is a strong advocate for the arts being accessible to all. She is an Army veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF 7) from 2009-2010. Shawna lives with several disabilities including myasthenia gravis, cervical dystonia, seizures, hypermobility joint syndrome, peripheral neuropathy, and PTSD. 

Shawna created a survey on arts accessibility which you are invited to complete; access it at THIS LINK

One of the things I talk about a lot is the phrase “arts accessibility” and the fact that I am an advocate for it. In discussions with colleagues and friends, I realized that it isn’t really a clear term. This point was driven home even further when I included the question “What does arts accessibility mean to you” in a survey I shared asking for feedback regarding educators’ struggles with arts accessibility in the classroom/studio. So I figured I’d take some time and provide an overview on all the different possible definitions of arts accessibility and what it means to me.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #1

For me, it started when I was exploring different opportunities for artist residencies, workshops,  and seminars. As someone with mobility impairments, I always had to ask if the facility was accessible. No…….handicap accessible, not accessible from the highway. One of the things I discovered was that most of the facilities are not friendly or easy to navigate for those of us who have any type of mobility impairment/disability. This was a discovery made long before I became a teaching artist leader with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative; it was then, however, that arts accessibility became my pet project. I was disappointed and downright bummed out about missing out on some amazing learning opportunities because the studio spaces were on the second floor of an old barn with no elevator access… or down several flights of outside stairs down the side of a cliff…or lacking any sort of climate control (air conditioning or heat source). And those barriers were from just a few of the locations I looked at locally. The facilities themselves are spectacular and amazing; drawing high caliber artists and professionals from around the world… This is just one example of what arts accessibility could look like – the most literal definition of the phrase – physical accessibility to a facility.

My disabilities are acquired; I was not born with them.  As a result, I am acutely aware on all the amazing things I am missing out on as a result. That FOMO (fear of missing out) is real ladies and gentleman, and the sting is one that is ever present. I quietly made it my mission to let the administrators of these facilities know that I was deeply saddened to be missing out because the facilities were not accessible. Some enlightening and hopeful conversations have been had as a result of this dialogue.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #2

Another quite literal definition of the term is actually having access to the arts. This includes students having access to art classes at their school, having nearby museums or art studios to attend, local theaters and dance halls, et al. There was a big focus on STEM curriculum, and as a result the creative arts saw a lot of cuts in Prek-12 curriculum. Recently however, administrators, educators, and clinicians are acknowledging the importance art has in youth development. This re-discovery has transitioned STEM curriculum to STEAM with the A standing for the arts. There are still many students who do not have the opportunity to take an art class – either one offered as part of their daily curriculum OR after school activities. This access barrier extends well beyond academic and includes all people who have interest in learning more about a topic in art.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #3

A third definition of “arts accessibility” is one of economic hardship. Learners of all ages who live in impoverished communities lack the financial means to be able to explore the creative arts. In areas where art and band are still offered as part of the middle/high school curriculum it’s less of an issue; at least they have the exposure to a creative outlet. However for others where these classes are not available, lacking the financial ability to enroll in after school classes at studios or arts organizations is a barrier. Economic barriers prevent access… which leads me to my next definition…

Arts Accessibility – Definition #4

Accessibility to the arts could have nothing to do with infrastructure and everything to do with the abilities of the staff. For adults and children with a wide range of developmental disabilities, the physical access definition is less important than having access to teachers who are able to meet them where they’re at. What I mean by that, is that for many in this demographic, teaching/leading them through an art class takes considerable patience and an understanding of how their brain functions. When families find artists/educators who ARE qualified and adept at working with these populations, the financial barrier is then factored in. Finding and hiring experienced artists can be expensive.  Investing in custom equipment and tools to allow the student the highest level of engagement in activities can be cost prohibitive.

Arts Accessibility – Definition #5

My fifth and final definition for arts accessibility, is one of the psychological variety. It has everything to do with the possible/potential student. The commonly accepted definition/understanding of creativity is that it’s something artists have. If the student feels and truly believes that they just don’t have the skill to create anything worthwhile and thus are defeated before they even try, that is a barrier to access. If it’s one thing I LOVE doing…it’s breaking down this particular barrier to arts access. It is a barrier that anyone can break down and help the student over if the teacher has the right tools in their toolbox.

And there ya have it. Those are MY five definitions of what  arts accessibility barriers could look like. There’s likely more that I haven’t thought of or come across yet. In future posts, I will break down each definition and explain how I personally work towards overcoming the barrier to access. It’s just as much about breaking down the stigma that only artists can appreciate art and reap benefits from a creative outlet as it is about providing opportunities for people to explore activities they’d never considered.

What does “arts accessibility” mean to you? How do you overcome the barriers?

You can follow Shawna at the following: 

www.shawnabarnes.com
www.facebook.com/shawn.n.m.barnes
www.instagram.com/shawna.n.m.barnes

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Arts Accessibility

January 8, 2019

Complete a survey

Shawna Barnes is a Teaching Artist Leader (TAL) with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). She is reaching out to the Maine Arts Education blog readers to assist in completing a survey. In Shawna’s words…. has created a survey to collect information on accessibility and I ask you to take a few minutes to complete it so she can get a comprehensive picture As part of her work as a TAL she is collecting information and providing resources and opportunities for others to gain knowledge about accessibility to arts education.

Shawna has created an Arts Accessibility resources website and it is at the beginning of being an amazing website!

SURVEY

Hello! My name is Shawna Barnes and I am a teaching artist leader with MALI. My project for the year is to work towards and advocate for arts accessibility in ALL its definitions. I am a disabled Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran turned artist and know the challenges I face when it comes to arts accessibility – especially as it relates to residencies. Truth be told, not many of the facilities are wheelchair or mobility impaired friendly. But that’s just one layer of this cake. That’s where YOU come in. I am looking for input from anyone and everyone who is touched by arts education.  Whether you are a teacher/educator, artist, occupational/physical therapist, caregiver or parent to a person with disabilities, home school coop, arts organization leader… I want to hear from everyone. If a question doesn’t apply to you, there’s an option to select N/A. This survey will be used to help inform my next steps in this project.  It will help me know where and what to focus my workshops on that center around developing creative adaptive solutions to help learners of ALL abilities. For more information or with any questions, please feel free to email me at info@shawnabarnes.com.

SURVEY

If you know someone who’s input I should have, PLEASE send them the link. It will stay up indefinitely. The more information I have, the better!!

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Critical Friend Days

November 26, 2018

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative

What happens when you bring together arts teachers, teaching artists, and arts leaders who are committed to arts education? An opportunity for all to learn at a very high level. On October 13 and November 13 – both rainy days and one a little snowy – educators traveled from all parts of the state for the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Critical Friend Days.

CRITICAL FRIEND DAY

Critical Friend Day provides an opportunity for MALI educators to share their “Logic Model” work that has been underway since the summer institute and for some before that time. Each educator has taken on a challenge that they wish to work on and devise a plan to solve the challenge. They share their projects to date and get feedback from “critical friends”.

Some of the topics:

  • Collaboration & Emotional Intelligence
  • Poetry and Improv Play Together!
  • Empty Bowls- Nourished Hearts!
  • Increasing Art Instruction at the Elementary Level
  • Authentic Pre-Assessment
  • Dance, Sculpture, Our Ocean
  • Self-Care in Education
  • Quality Elementary Music for ME
  • Math and Music : The Leonardo Effect
  • Theater Today, Building the Foundation
  • Valley K-12 Art Curriculum

In addition to sharing their Logic Models other educators are invited to take on the role of “critical friend” that we define this way: “critical” – expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music, or art. “Friend” – a person who gives assistance. Both are done in a direct and gentle helpful way. Feedback from the day includes: We want the teacher leaders to create the best work possible so please be honest in your feedback. Thanks so much for your participation!

FEEDBACK

MALI education leaders and invited critical friends often say that the day is their favorite one of the year. A few comments from the participants are included below.

  • I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to hear and see what educators are doing across the state.
  • I LOVE hearing about what people are doing.
  • For Theater Today I certainly struggled with what I wanted to present and what I wanted for feedback. I found just putting it all out there and having a supporting critical friend room was wonderful and filled with growth. For Poetry and Improv this work keeps showing its beautiful placement.
  • It was good to see how committed these presenters are to their work as teaching artists. I was also impressed by how articulately they talked about their work and how it serves their students.

The day ended with an opportunity to do theater improv lead by MALI Teaching Artist Leader Nicole Cardano. The group created a “Dragon” which you can see in the video below.

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Dance for Joy

November 9, 2018

What fun

Amber Pendleton, grade 6, Prescott Memorial School, Washington

This collage was created by Amber Pendleton who was in 5th grade at the time when Teaching Artist Chrissy Fowler provided a dance residency at Prescott Memorial School in Washington. She was working with art teacher Anthony Lufkin and a Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader (MAL) in a Gifted and Talented art class. This was Amber’s response to the fabulous opportunity. The residency took place with funding from the Maine Arts Commission Dance Education fund. This fund was established by a MALI dance teacher at Thornton Academy, Emma Arenstam Campbell. If you’re interested in bringing dance education to your school please watch for the information coming soon on this blog for the 2019-20 school year. The dance performance that has provided the funding for this grant will take place at Thornton Academy on Friday, November 16, 6:30 p.m. Only dance educators on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster are eligible for the funding. Please consider reaching out to one of them and begin planning for next year. This funding has been in place for three years and hundreds of students in grades Pre-K through 12 throughout Maine have benefited from the opportunities it has afforded. If you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

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Kate Smith

October 17, 2018

Receiving her Carol Trimble Award

If you missed yesterday’s blog post I hope you’ll go back and read about Kate Smith and her recent honor receiving the Carol Trimble Award for her work with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative. Below are some photos taken by Lindsay Pinchbeck at the very moment Kate was surprised! And a photo of Kate back at Central School with some of her third grade students and her certificate. On the screen behind is a photo of the Lanternfest that Kate works on with her community.

Kate with one of her third grade classes with her Carol Trimble award.

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Carol Trimble Award

October 16, 2018

Kate Smith – CONGRATULATIONS!

During the pre-MICA Arts Education conference at USM two weeks ago the Carol Trimble Award was presented to Kate Smith. The award is presented to an educator who contributes exemplary service to the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative/Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) for their commitment, collaborative spirit and contributions. Carol Trimble was an amazing advocate for arts education. She retired as Executive Director from the Maine Alliance for Arts Education. The award was established in 2013 to honor Carol and her work.

Kate with one of her third grade classes with her Carol Trimble award.

Kate is an energetic music teacher currently teaching music to 430 preK-third grade students at Central Elementary School in South Berwick, Maine where she has been since 2003. 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 amazing husband and three children.

Music Educator Kris Bisson, Kate Smith, teaching artist Brian Evans-Jones at the MALI Mega 2018

Kate is well respected in the education world, not only for music but for her work continuing work with the outdoor classroom at Central School. Kate is a remarkable grant writer and many learners of all ages have benefited in her school and community. She has presented many workshops on a variety of topics for conferences at the local, regional and state level. Her most recent was for the Pre-Maine International Conference on the Arts (MICA) leading the music/dance session and at the MICA facilitating a panel discussion with teaching artists and PK-12 arts teachers.

Kate presenting at the MALI summer institute 2017

In 2014 Kate became a MALI Teacher Leader and willingly shared her enthusiasm for learning. In 2015 she was part of a MALI team who traveled to  Washington, D.C. for the Teach to Lead Summit. Kate enthusiastically embraced the Logic Model the team was introduced to and ever since has guided the MALI work. Kate is so engaged in how the model can impact each of us she often stays up late writing logic models. She is the
“Logic Model Guru”. Her excitement of having the then US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sit at our table at the summit was contagious. In 2015 Kate became a member of the team who guides the MALI work where she continually gives 100% with every task and responsibility. Kate has co-led the work with the MALI Teaching Artist Leaders introducing them to the many facets of teaching and learning. Her experience working with teaching artists in her school/community has enhanced learning opportunities for many. Kate is dependable, collaborative, honest, a life-long learner, has high expectations, fun to be around, and totally committed to whatever she takes on.

I had the pleasure of traveling to Islesford with Kate at the end of the summer to meet and visit with Ashley Bryan. It was a remarkable and very special gift. Kate was so inspired that on her return she incorporated what she learned to pass on to her students and colleagues. Kate has the ability to process quickly and put ideas into action without hesitation.

With Arne Duncan, Teach to Lead Summit, summer 2015

Catherine Ring, co-founder of MALI, Executive Director of the New England Institute for Teacher Education and Visual Art Educator, has worked closely with Kate and said the following about her: Kate is an inspirational leader for arts education. She is an intelligent and passionate advocate for the arts and it’s been a pleasure to work with her for the past 6 years at the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative.

Kate took a moment out of her busy schedule to answer a couple of questions for the Maine Arts Education blog readers.

On Islesford visiting Ashley Bryan

What’s your favorite part about teaching? How do I narrow it down!?!  When you see students not only master what you’ve taught them but then own their learning. Hearing students hum, sing, or whistle the songs I’ve taught them. The joy on my students’ faces when they are creating, performing, listening and responding to music. Hearing parents say how much they love hearing their children sing in the car, at the table, in the bathroom, or in bed when they are supposed to be asleep. Knowing the children are making precious memories by sharing their singing, playing and dancing with their parents (and grandparents!) makes my heart sing!

Kate Smith, 2018 Maine Teacher of the Year and MALI music educator Kaitlin Young, Argy Nestor, Pre-MICA 2018

What are you most proud of from your career as an educator? The relationships I have made. Someone once said, in order to raise yourself up you must surround yourself with people you aspire to follow. I have been able to learn from incredible educators from across the state and region through the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, the Maine Teacher of the Year Association, USM, Lesley University, the Marshwood School District and countless other networks. There have been people who challenge me, inspire me, stretch me, believe in me. They’ve saved me a place at the table, encouraged me to use my voice, to amplify my students’ voices and have taught me to expect more from our legislators and policy makers.

CONGRATULATIONS KATE SMITH – this years awardee for the Carol Trimble Award!

Previous recipients include:

  • Catherine Ring and Rob Westerberg
  • Bronwyn Sale
  • Jeffrey Beaudry
  • Charlie Johnson

 

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Janie’s School on Dot Day

October 8, 2018

What did you do?

Janie Snider is an elementary visual art educator at Hancock Grammar School where she teaches students in grades 6-8.

I’m guessing that some or many of you and your students celebrated Dot Day in some way. Janie celebrated in a big way that impacted the entire school community. Student learning connected to analogous colors and also to kindness and being positive. Every student and staff member painted a dot, about 270 of them. Afterwards they were displayed in the school’s lobby for all to see and appreciate.

Janie is a Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader and this is her 25th year teaching. Janie has one of nine videos on standards-based education. This school-wide project is a great example of how Janie leads in her school. She said: “The Dot is such a great book and the dot is such a building block to so many great art works!” Peter H. Reynolds is an actor and illustrator and has done a great job connecting his book to a variety of curriculum and resources. Check them out at The Dot site.

If you did something at your school for “Dot Day” please send me an email so your idea can be shared with others on this blog. Thanks!

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