Posts Tagged ‘Michaela DiGianvittorio’


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Michaela DiGianvittorio

March 24, 2015

MAAI Teacher Leaders series

This is the sixth blog post for 2015 on the Phase 4 Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s (MAAI) Teacher Leaders sharing their stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. You can learn more about MAAI at and learn more about all 61 of the MAAI Teacher Leaders at!teacher-leaders/c1qxk.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 1.15.44 PMMichaela DiGianvittorio attended the Maine College of Art and graduated with a B.F.A. in Illustration in 2006. She taught pre-school at a local childcare center for a year and decided to go back to school to obtain a degree in Art Education. In 2008 she graduated from the Post-Baccalaureate in Art Education program at MECA. Michaela is currently a visual arts teacher at Gray-New Gloucester High School. She has been teaching art for seven years and has taught all seven at GNGHS. She is one of two art teachers at the high school. This semester, she is teaching Foundations In Art, Drawing, Multi-Media, Digital Media and Gifted & Talented Visual Art.

What do you like best about being an art educator?

I have a passion for art and a passion for teaching. What I like best about being an art educator is that I am able to practice what I love. It is not often that people love their job, but I truly do. Being an art educator is not just something that I do, it is who I am.

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

  1. Connections- Making connections with students, colleagues, administration, parents, community members and other VPA educators is crucial. Through connections you are able to collaborate, receive feedback, and advocate for your program.
  2. Life Long Learning- It is so important to be a life long learner. Staying up to date with new initiates, technology, and attending professional development opportunities will improve your knowledge, and keep you grounded/connected with your school/district and the field of education.
  3. Reflection & Revision- To have a successful program you need to be willing to make changes, take risks, and try new things. Making things new, exciting, and relevant to/for students will make your class more meaningful. Taking time to reflect, review and revise is so important in keeping your students engaged and improve your curriculum, instruction, and assessment. As a teacher, your job is never done. It can always be improved.

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

Assessment has not only helped me track student progress, but it also has helped in developing and revising my curriculum. When developing my rubrics, I organize and “unpack” the standards that are being assessed, then target what is essential for the student to know in order to meet each standard. This has allowed me to determine where there are gaps and also create essential formative assessments that help them be more successful when they are working on their summative assessment.

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

Making connections with other art educators has been by far the most beneficial part of being involved in the arts assessment initiative. Also, it has made me reevaluate what I do and has given me ideas and inspiration for new and different methods in my teaching.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am very proud of everything that I have contributed to the art department at GNGHS. I feel as though I have made a big impact on our art program through curriculum development and also transitioning to standards based instruction and assessment. However, what I am most proud of is the connections that I have made with students. I know that I have impacted many students lives throughout the years, and in return they have impacted mine. Teaching is such a rewarding career!

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

I always feel like I could be a better teacher. The only thing that can really ever get in the way of becoming a better teacher is myself. To be a “better” teacher, you need to be a life-long learner. To be a life-long learner, you need to have self-motivation. Lack of motivation can definitely get in the way of being a better teacher. The trick is to find out what will motivate you when you are in that rut.

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

I honestly don’t know. I feel very fortunate and “lucky” to have a job in art education. I feel as though I have worked hard to get where I am, but some might see that as luck? Art teaching positions are few and far between. Being among so many dedicated and inspirational art educators, I could see how some might see that landing in a position could be do to luck or circumstance.

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

Practice what you teach! It is so important to continue to nurture your own creativity, and when students can see that you are truly passionate about what you do, it helps to inspire and motivate them. Also, stay in the loop on new initiatives and keep up to date with technology.

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

If I was given $500,000.00 I would start an international travel program for the art department!

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

I can’t really predict future regrets when I still have many years to live before I am 94 years old. At 32, my only regret is that I haven’t traveled much. If I went back in time I would look into opportunities to teach abroad for a few years before I got married and started a family.

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My Last Two Weeks

May 10, 2013

What an adventure!

Some weeks are filled with excitement and adventure and some weeks are filled with excitement and adventure – yes, I repeated that since all my weeks are pretty amazing! However, my most valuable days are when I am visiting teachers and students, learning about the work that is going on in the arts in Maine schools. I am always interested in what teachers are doing with curriculum, assessment, and arts education in general! What I hear and what I see keeps me grounded in what is “real” for Maine arts education. When I do my work at the Department it is first and foremost in the best interest of all Maine kids and their visual and performing arts education. I feel so fortunate to have this job that takes me to all corners of the state. Thank you for the invitations!

During the last two weeks I have had the chance to go to the following:

  • Ashley Smith (Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leader) and Mike Scarpone, music teachers at Brunswick High School invited me to speak at their Tri-M Music Honor Society induction ceremony. I was very impressed with the music and the students. Bridget Horan, Chanel Thibeault, Ariel Bouchard, and Joe Waring played the National Anthem to start the program. Throughout the program there were student performances including: Tessa Hauptman was accompanied on the piano by Ben Flanagan. Hannah Judd played the cello. Joe Waring played the saxophone accompanied by Nathaniel Vilas on the piano. Alexis Gillis sang accompanied by Ben Flanagan on the piano. Walter Martin played the trombone accompanied by Nathaniel Vilas on the piano. Nathaniel Vilas ending the evening on the piano. It was wonderful to hear the present members (15 of them) introduce the inductees (21 of them). As these type of ceremonies go, it was very formal however, the students humor shined through which brought several chuckles to members of the audience. Afterwards, parents and students enjoyed refreshments in the cafeteria. Thank you Brunswick Tri-M students and Ashley and Mike for including me.


  • Last week I was invited to meet with the arts staff from the Gorham schools. In the Gorham schools they rotate updating curriculum and arts educators are starting this important work. Assistant middle school principal Susie Hanley has been communicating periodically during the last year with questions and information on the work of the Gorham arts teachers. It was great to have a chance to hear discuss their work and the challenges it poses. I did get a photo at the end but it was after some of the teachers had already left the meeting. Thank you to Susie for inviting me!

The teachers include:

  • Gail Thibodeau, Music  K-5, Narragansett and Village
  • Janelle Mosey, Music and Chorus  K-5, Great Falls
  • Allie Rimkunas, Art 1-5, Great Falls
  • Paula Balcom, Art 1-5, Narragansett and Village
  • Amy Stewart, Music K-5, Narragansett
  • Vicki Bove, Art  6-8, Gorham Middle School
  • Amy Cousins, Art 6-8, Gorham Middle School
  • Tracy Wheeler, Music and Chorus 6-8, Gorham Middle School
  • Kim Mathieu, Music and Band  6-8, Gorham Middle School, 5th grade Band
  • Chris Crosby, Art 9-12, Gorham High School
  • Sarah Tucker, Art 9-12, Gorham High School
  • Matt Murray, Music and Chorus 9-12, Gorham High School
  • Tim Ebersold, Music and Band 9-12, Gorham High School


  • Gray-New Gloucester High School art exhibit was held last week in the auxiliary gym on the same evening that the students were performing the comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner. It was great to see Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leader Barb Weed (Barb’s Another Arts Teacher’s story) on my way in to the school. After I arrived Waterville High School art teacher Suzanne Goulet dropped in to see the show. The gym was completely filled with outstanding 2 and 3 dimensional art work and it was great to see art teachers Sarah Gould and Michaela DiGianvittorio. Talk about proficiency?! The evidence was clear! Thanks for inviting me to a great show!

Sarah, Argy, Michaela

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  • This week I’ve had more opportunities to visit schools. Debi Lynne Baker and I were at Biddeford Intermediate School to videotape Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leader, music teacher Andrea Wollstadt. (Andrea’s Another Arts Teacher’s story). The last of a series of 4 that Debi is creating showing standards based arts classrooms in action. We had a great day in Andrea’s 4th and 5th grade classes. Her superintendent, Jeremy Ray, popped in to give her an apple for Teacher Appreciation Week. We interviewed Andrea’s principal Debra Kenney, music colleague Jillian Cote, and two of her students. Thanks to the students and staff at Biddeford Intermediate School!
  • I visited Belfast High School and Troy Howard Middle School and the classrooms of Heidi O’Donnell and Lynnette Sproch. Heidi has a lesson where students wrote an artist statement after research and created an artwork that depicted the style of the artist. They were created in small shadow-like boxes. The pieces were fascinating to look at and really made me think. I was glad to see the “man coming out of the ceiling” in real life that Lynnette had created with her middle school students. I also stopped to see my dear friend science teacher John Thurston who is responsible for the garden program at the middle school. It is always great to see John who works with Lynnette on integrated units. You might remember the one that they did on creating posters for the Belfast coop. They were beautiful with bright red giant tomatoes and a great example of service learning. I stopped to see theatre teacher Jason Bannister who caught me up on the event they just held at the school for middle level theatre students – Maine Student Acting competition. Thanks for the visit to both schools!
  • I traveled up the coast to Hancock Grammar School and stopped to see Maine Arts Assessment art teacher leader Janie Snider (Janie’s Another Arts Teacher’s story). We critiqued the video that Debi has created of Janie in action earlier this spring.  We spent some time talking about the idea of writing “power standards” and perhaps rubrics to make available for all arts teachers. What do you think of the idea? Thanks for “great food for thought” Janie!
  • Onto Machias and the Rose Gaffney School to visit Maine Arts Assessment music teacher leader Bonnie Atkinson. (Bonnie’s Another Arts Teacher’s story). When I arrived her middle and high school band were rehearsing their pieces for the spring concert. Bonnie has many thought provoking sayings in her classrooms. I loved hearing the students practice and I also had a chance to listen to the chorus practice before I left for the Washington county superintendents meeting at University of Maine at Machias. Thanks for letting me pop in Bonnie! The artwork everywhere in the halls is stunning.



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