Posts Tagged ‘Mandi Mitchell’


Another Student’s Story: Gage Shackley

December 18, 2017

Gage Shackley, Hermon High School

Periodically individuals are featured on the Maine Arts Education blog as part of a series called “Another Student’s Story”. Their “Arts” stories are shared with you. Please share these stories with others. If you know of a student who should be sharing their story, please contact me at and they will be considered for a feature on the Maine Arts Education blog.

Thanks to Mandi Mitchell, visual art teacher, at Hermon High School and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader, for introducing me to Gage Shackley and his art. I was memorized as I looked at his drawing books – several of them, filled with amazing drawings!

My name is Gage Shackley and I am 18. I am a senior In Hermon High School and I live in Hermon, Maine.
What value do you see in taking visual arts courses?
Visual Arts has made me determined to become a better artist. And with the help of my teacher, I believe I have achieved just that.
Name three skills, ideas, or life-long tools that you have learned in your art courses?
I have definitely been pushed toward learning how to take constructive-criticism, although I’m still not a big fan of it. I have also learned that art is a very difficult profession to be great at, so I believe that I try my best to accomplish that. Last is definitely the internet, with it I can always stay in touch with people who I know will always help me with anything and that includes my art.

Han Solo, created using Wacom-like tablet on Photoshop

What is your favorite part of the art course you are presently taking? What are you most proud of?

I am in an Independent Study. I like that I am free to draw just about anything, JUST about. I have been recently trying to draw “models” from life and that’s putting it lightly. I am proud of all of my art including that. I just don’t like the fact of censorship. So, that’s what I’m proud of.
Does anyone encourage and/or support you with your art making?
Yes, just about everyone I know supports me and my art. There isn’t just one person, and I am definitely thankful for that.
Complete the sentence, I enjoy my art classes because…
… I enjoy drawing.
Do your studies in art impact other class work or your life outside of school? If so, in what way(s)?
Not really, in the first place I don’t ever have homework, art is my homework. Sometimes the people around me ask for commissions for me and I happily oblige, because you know, money.
What art teacher Mandi Mitchell says about Gage:
I have found that one of Gage’s greatest strengths is how incredibly observant he is.  His ability to capture personality, body language, and characteristics of someone within perhaps five minutes of meeting and interacting with them is quite a gift.

Thank you Father, created using Wacom-like tablet on Photoshop


MAEA Honors Art Educators

April 29, 2017

Maine Art Education Association

Westbrook, Maine, April 2017 – On Friday, April 7 in the beautiful library of Westbrook MIddle School, the Maine Art Education Association (MAEA) honored seven of Maine’s art educators for excellent service to their profession, their schools and their communities. It was an evening filled with sincere praise and celebrated in typical fashion with custom-made ceramic vases, flowers and, of course, pineapples. Holly Houston, Recognitions Chair for the MAEA, began the evening talking about the “wonderfulness of art teachers” and with each award presented that wonderfulness became more apparent.

Rhonda Miller presented the 2017 Distinguished Art Educator Award for Pat Savigny-Higgins from Marshwood High School in South Berwick, describing Savigny-Higgins as an “art teacher down to her bones” who is known for her dedication to students. Savigny-Higgins responded with thanks especially to her students for challenging her. Citing that art is crucial now more ever, she urged support for the arts due to the “life lessons that happen in the art room.”

Jodi Thomas presented the 2017 Outstanding Service to the Profession Award to Jody Dube from Lewiston High School. Jody is responsible for guiding students through the creation of pottery that is sold to help fund the Store Next Door, with the mission of supporting homeless students. In this endeavor, stated Thomas, Dube teaches students their “skills have monetary value and can be harnessed to make a difference.” Dube stated he was honored and humbled and thanked all teachers who do what they do every day, saying “In these challenging times, it is an important mission to be able to help kids be who they were meant to be and not just a test score.”

Lisa Ingraham presented the 2017 Retired Art Educator Award to Frank Chin, a former middle school teacher in Skowhegan. After more than 30 years of teaching Ingraham wondered how many students have a deep understanding of the arts because of Chin’s dedicated career. Chin stated that the best thing about teaching art is when things come back to you. He read a letter from a former student who years after being in his classroom wrote to tell him that his kindness was transformative her her, urging him to to remember that while teaching may seem rewardless at times, “please make sure you know you make a difference.”

Lisa Ingraham also presented the award for 2017 Secondary Art Educator of the Year to Mandi Mitchell from Hermon High School, describing Mitchell as a “whirlwind of creative energy who infuses joy into all she does.” Mitchell expressed gratitude for the recognition and thanked her colleagues Ingraham and Suzanne Goulet who have been influential in her career.

Deb Arter introduced the award for 2017 Middle/Elementary Art Educator of the Year to Laura Devin of Woolwich Central School. Arter described Devin as a fierce advocate for the arts and her local program, who spent years in a waterless mobile classroom but now works in a facility that includes a kiln and a printing press. Devin, who accepted the award wrapped in a giant paper chain while wearing a tiara, stated that the arts offer creativity, collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking skills. Devin closed by saying, “Art is so important and we are so lucky to be able to bring it to kids.”

Kay Allison and Kate Cargile presented the 2017 Museum Art Educator of the Year Award to Anthony Shostak of the Bates College Museum of Art. Allison and Cargile spoke from their experience as nearby teachers at Lewiston Middle School, describing how Shostak makes the museum accessible to art students of all ages. They spoke of how Shostak is an asset not only to Bates but all the surrounding schools, especially citing his Thousand Words Project which emphasizes art and literacy connections. Shostak, from Lewiston originally, expressed pleasure at working with teachers and honoring students and their growth in the arts.

Finally, Matt Johnson presented the award for 2018 Maine Art Educator of the Year to his colleague, Deb Bickford of Westbrook High School. Bickford recalled others discouraging her from entering into the arts as a profession but she was determined to make her own way. Most importantly, stated Bickford, is the realization that the art classroom isn’t there to make artists but rather, “We help people learn how to learn. We just happen to do it with art.” Bickford invited seven current and former students to talk about what learning in the art room meant to them. The students expressed themes of the art room being a safe place of refuge but also a place to push you out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons. They spoke of the art room as a place to learn to make better decisions and art as fundamental to the human mind. They talked about how art classes offered valuable life lessons such as how to learn different ways to look at things, to self-evaluate through constructive criticism and to communicate effectively.

Suzanne Goulet also honored Deb Bickford as outgoing president of the Maine Art Education Association. Suzanne Goulet will serve as current president for the next two years.

The Maine Art Education Association is a statewide professional organization whose members are committed to excellence in visual arts education.


Mindset and Mindfulness

March 8, 2017


Lisa Ingraham

Join R.S.V.P. ME on Tuesday, March 14, 3:30 to 5:00 pm for an online roundtable discussion about how Mindset and Mindfulness strategies are being implemented to benefit the culture and climate of our schools.

Lisa Ingraham is the facilitator of R.S.V.P., an elementary art teacher at Madison Elementary School, and a Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader.

Mandi Mitchell

Lisa will share Madison Elementary’s exploration of Mindfulness strategies to help both students and teachers succeed in her school. Joining Lisa will be Hermon High School Art Teacher Mandi Mitchell and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader will share her school’s experience using Carol Dweck’s “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” as a text for professional development.

Sign up to participate in this Zoom* Online Video Conference – and earn 1.5 contact hours as a Maine Art Education Association member – by emailing Lisa at You can also contact her anytime with questions, comments, or to suggest a future topic.

Zoom Video Conferencing is done completely online. Joining a meeting is as simple as emailing R.S.V.P. ME facilitator, Lisa Ingraham and clicking on the link provided in the invite email that you will receive about 5 minutes before the meeting begins.


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Mandi Mitchell

May 25, 2016

Teacher Leader series


This is the eleventh blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 70 posted to date.

IMG_4336Mandi Mitchell has been teaching Visual Art for the past three years at Hermon High School (HHS), grades 9-12. Mandi teaches 120 students of the 500 students attending the school. This year she restructured her curriculum and course offerings to better suit the needs and wants of students. The first course that a student takes in Visual Art is Art Foundations, which runs for the entire year. After they take that course, they can choose to take any of the following four semester courses: Advanced Painting & Drawing, Ceramics & Sculpture, Graphic Design & Printmaking, and Photography. Mandi created the first Art Club for HHS a year ago and serves as the Advisor for the Class of 2018. Before Hermon, she did a lot of substitute teaching for various subject areas (mainly art) in Hampden at Reeds Brook Middle School and Hampden Academy. As many know, finding a teaching job in the arts can be somewhat challenging, so she took as many substitute jobs as she could! Mandi also substituted at John Bapst Memorial HS (my alma mater), Brewer HS, and schools in Orono.

What do you like best about being a visual art educator?

It is hard to think of just one thing that I like best about being an art educator because there are so many reasons! Usually at the end of the year, my students express how I have encouraged and helped them to be persistent and persevere through creative challenges. I like seeing them grow more confident in themselves and their skills, enjoy creating art, and embracing their individuality.

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

  1. Expose student work. Whether it be a theatrical performance, jazz concert, or art show, it is important for you to share and celebrate these talents with their family, friends, and community.
  2. Vary options to explore creative expression. Arts education is not one-size-fits-all. Perform, dance, or draw your ideas, thoughts and feelings.
  3. Provide a nurturing atmosphere. Students should be provided with an opportunity to be creative, expressive, and unique!

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

Assessment is so important in my classroom. The way in which I create my rubrics is highly successful. Both expectations and criteria for my assignments are clear and it is a great tool for student success. I have found that my rubrics can help students to further develop their work. They are able to set their own bar high and push themselves.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

  •  Camaraderie
  • Networking
  • Support
  • Professional Development
  • Confidence
  • Leadership Opportunities

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of myself for expanding the visual arts program at my school, making it appealing to many students. Restructuring my curriculum this year made a huge impact on enrollment.

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

 One word. TIME. Oh, and money.

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

Honestly, getting the teaching job that I have at Hermon. I am very lucky and fortunate to be surrounded by a very supportive staff, administration, and community. So, some would say that it is luck. I am a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason, and I was patient and determined for three years after graduating college to land this “perfect” teaching job!

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

  • Stay organized. It makes life easier.
  • Get involved in your student’s extra-curricular activities. They appreciate (and notice) when you go to their sporting and academic events.
  • Never bring student work home to grade. I have learned that the hard way and wanted to laugh when I was told this, but I have now adapted this mentality.
  • Have an “agenda” displayed for what the class schedule looks like for that day. You’ll repeat yourself less and students will have an expectation of what to do and what’s to come.

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

First, I would want to travel around the world to experience the art and culture of different countries. Additionally, it would be great to bring a group of students with me to share those experiences and see some amazing art and culture!

Second, I’d use a good chunk of that money to build an amazing art room at my school with some top-notch technology and materials!

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

At this point in my life, there isn’t much that I have been regretful of…so I probably wouldn’t have anything to regret at the age of 94.


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