Posts Tagged ‘RSU 38’


MALI Teacher Leader Story: Hope Lord

May 8, 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 Hope for sharing your story!

Hope Lord has been the Art & Design teacher for 300 grades 6 through 8 students at Maranacook Community School for the last 7 years. She also teaches and inspires 16 gifted and talented art students and is the co-advisor for the school’s yearbook. Prior to that Hope taught in RSU #38 for 19 years, 12 as a special education teacher.

What do you like best about being an art educator?

It’s wonderful when I see my students make connections between art & other content areas. I love watching my students take risks in their art and grow as artists. I enjoy being surrounded by young artists and presenting them with opportunities to explore, develop, challenge, and create art. The best part of being an art educator is witnessing a student’s success, as they become and see themselves as artists.

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

Three keys to a successful visual arts education program are creativity, perseverance, and collaboration.

  1. First of all, creativity is important because an arts educator is always looking for creative inspiration for new lessons and challenging their students to innovate and take creative risks in their artwork. Art educators also have to be creative in obtaining the resources they need for their art classrooms and for adapting materials and lessons to challenge and meet the needs of all their students.
  2. Perseverance is also key to successful arts education. The process of creating art requires the artist to experiment, revise, and rework their art numerous times. Students need to learn perseverance because students often experience failed attempts in communicating their message or executing their design. By encouraging students and supporting them through the revision process, students learn to persevere and develop a life-long skill. Perseverance not only helps students become artists, it also helps them work through any difficult task they face in school and future careers.
  3. The final key to a successful arts program is collaboration. Seeking and receiving feedback and collaboration is crucial in planning, developing, and creating artwork. When students collaborate they gain insight and new perspectives that they wouldn’t if working in isolation. Collaboration also challenges and inspires an art educator. Collaborating with other educators and community members enriches an art program, providing greater resources and connections that working alone cannot. Collaboration teaches vital 21st century skills that prepare students for life.

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

Quality assessment helps me understand how a student is learning and the degree to which they comprehend a concept. It also helps me plan my instruction based on concepts students need more instruction or may have misunderstandings and need clarification. Assessment also provides students feedback on their learning and how they can improve their work. 

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

MALI has provided me the support, encouragement, and skills I needed to become an arts leader in my school, district, and state. I have the confidence to take creative risks in my teaching. My teaching has improved because of those risks and the collaboration with teachers throughout my district. My professional growth has enabled me to become an arts education leader and mentor to new teachers in my district. Additionally, I have the confidence to share my teaching experiences with other art teachers and receiving constructive feedback. MALI has been a great inspiration. 

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of the work I’ve done with some of my most challenging students. I love seeing these students grow creatively and find success in art, when they have not been successful in other content areas. As I watch their art confidence grow, I also see their self-esteem improve, and it warms my heart. I know the extra investment and encouragement these students need, is well worth the effort. Every student needs to feel they are good at something. I am proud that I have been able to assist students in finding success in art and also building their self-esteem.

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

The day to day politics of education interfere with being a great teacher. The increasing demands of our time and ever changing policies, hinders educators. The lack of support & funding for the arts from administrators, school boards, community, and legislators, all interfere with being a great teacher.

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 spent the last seven years developing an arts curriculum that is engaging and fosters creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication, while connecting the arts to other content areas. It is hard work and requires continuous revisions and alterations, as I teach each group of students. When a well planned and integrated art unit is executed, it seems effortless. However, it requires numerous hours of planning, research, collaboration, and support.

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

I would tell them to trust their instincts and take risks. Share your ideas with colleagues and get feedback and support to act on those ideas. Reach out to your community and colleagues throughout the state for resources and support to bring your ideas to fruition.

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

Making drums at the MALI Summer Institute, August 2018

I would take some of the money to build a new art and design studio and gallery at my school. I would also establish a grant that would be available to art teachers to help fund art materials and equipment, field trips, and artists in residence programs throughout Maine.

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

My only regret would be that I didn’t start my teaching career as an Art Educator. Even though I enjoyed the challenges and successes of a Special Education teacher, I wish I would have taught Visual Arts from the beginning. I would still have had the opportunities of teaching students with special needs, but through the arts lens. Teaching art and mentoring young artists has been very rewarding and my only regret is I didn’t start sooner.


GT Art Seminar

June 4, 2015

District-wide in RSU#38

On May 15th a district wide Art Seminar was held for Gifted and Talented Art students in grades 3-12. A total of 22 GT Art students participated in the three art sessions presented by local artists at their studios. Christine Higgins and Thomas Higgins share a studio in Readfield. Christine creates sculptural forms and pulp paintings from her handmade paper. Thomas is a plein air oil landscape painter. Their website is Melissa Fredsall is a glass artist and she teaches a variety of glass arts at the Stained Glass Express studio in Manchester. Their website is

The students were divided into two groups: elementary students and middle school/high school students. Ms. Lord, the middle school art teacher, accompanied the MS/HS students as they started their day at the Dragonfly studio in Readfield. Students listened to a short presentation by Christine and Thomas about their art and how they communicate a message with their artwork and then they got right to work creating art. While high school students sat on the edge of the woods with Thomas and learned techniques to sketch a graphite landscape, Christine taught the middle school students how to screen and press pulp fibers into paper and dye the fibers to create a design. After an hour the two groups switched places, so that each group were able to work along side both artists.

Meanwhile at the Stain Glass Express studio, Ms. McPhedran, a district elementary art teacher, and the elementary students were working with Melissa Fredsall to create glass mosaic tiles. Each student selected colored glass pieces to form a design, which they glued to the tile and then grouted the glass pieces. Each student was able to finish their tile and bring it home the same day.

After students ate their lunches, they boarded the bus and MS/HS students traveled to the Stained Glass studio and Elementary students traveled to the Dragonfly studio. The elementary students received the same two presentations by Christine and Thomas and created their own paper and sketched landscapes with graphite and colored pencils. The MS/HS students spent the afternoon cutting glass and creating several glass design pieces, that were later fired in the glass kiln and made into beautiful magnets.

It was a wonderful day spent with great weather, talented artists, and creative students. On the bus ride back to school the students exclaimed what a great time they all had and were greatly inspired to use their new art skills.

Photos of the day can be viewed at: 0BxHQTmvxop2OTHR4RWwycEFTcEk/view?usp=sharing

Thank you to Hope Lord, Maranacook Middle School ART teacher for providing this great blog post.


Portland Jazz Orchestra

March 8, 2014

Featuring the music of Maine composers/arrangers Terry White, Craig Skeffington, and others, as well as the premier of a piece that Terry and the Gifted and Talented students of RSU40 district helped compose.

PJO Poster


Art and Math Collaboration

April 4, 2013

Mt Vernon and Wayne Elementary Schools – SPIRAL

_E5R6749Sarah Caban, RSU #38 math coach, and Dona Seegers, elementary art teacher at Mt Vernon and Wayne Elementary Schools, used the theme of spirals for their second annual Art/Math collaboration. It has been a yearlong inquiry into the essential question: Throughout history, why have so many people enjoyed and used spirals?

This winter Dona was exhibiting with 23 artists and poets in SPIRAL: A Journey Of Growth Without End, an interactive multimedia art show at the new Emery Community Arts Center at UMF.

K-5 students spent the fall months studying and responding to artists who have spirals in their artwork: painters Van Gogh and Klimt, printmakers Hokusai and Hiroshige as well as the rock art of the Southwestern Native Americans.

As a jumping off point for the collaborative unit, Sarah and Dona coordinated field trips to the SPIRAL exhibit. During dynamic mini lessons students experienced the math, science and art of spirals with participating artists as docents. Galaxies, body rhythms, drumming, poetry, nature, mathematical structures and artworks were included.

“I have to tell you how impressive this trip was!  I still can’t believe you got the artists themselves to make presentations at each of the stations. The artists were terrific with the students and their exhibits were inspiring…thank you, thank you” Cheryl Hasenfus, principal Wayne Elementary School.

The following are student reviews: “I didn’t realize there were so many spirals in life.”  “I learned that even animals have adapted to using spirals.” “I learned that you use math to make the Fibonacci spiral.” “The drumming made me feel like a beating heart. We danced and talked. Marty taught us to talk to each other with rhythms.”  “There were spirals in a spiral and we could walk through it.”

IMG_6847 Sarah and Dona then team taught in K-5 art classes integrating the Common Core Mathematical Practices: Look for and make use of structure and attend to precision.

Students explored two different spirals; the Fibonacci and the Archimedean.  They identified the structure of each spiral, used their knowledge of the structure to build a Fibonacci and an Archimedean spiral and predicted what would happen to each spiral if it continued to grow.  Students learned about the importance of the Fibonacci number sequence and explored what would happen if Fibonacci had tried to make a spiral with the same size squares.

The two spirals were painted and collaged.  After a gallery walk, students worked together to complete a Venn diagram which compared and contrasted their structures. A similar lesson sequence helped to understand, build, adapt, and compare a helix and a modified Archimedean screw.

Our finale was a combined art exhibit and math learning lab. Students used the math they learned to describe and label their art work.

They answered the essential question, “Throughout history, why have so many people enjoyed and used spirals?” Here are some of their thoughts: “They are food.” “They help us.” “They are used to build things.” “They are in the atmosphere.” They can be used for tools and artwork”  “They make me curious how it all started and how did the world start? It’s like a doorway.”

Students met a variety of learning targets that integrated essential understandings of Math and Art:

  • We can explain the characteristics of a spiral
  • We understand and can explain the differences and similarities between an Archimedes spiral and a Fibonacci spiral.
  • We can explain the characteristics of a Theodorus spiral.
  • We understand and can explain the differences and similarities between a helix and an Archimedean screw.
  • We can classify spirals by their characteristics.
  • We can evaluate and prove whether a spiral is one of the mathematical spirals that we studied.
  • We understand and can explain the similarities and differences between artists and mathematicians.
  • We understand and can explain the significance of spirals in our world.
  • We understand  how to integrate structure into our creative work and can explain how it has impacted our creative work.

“The school-wide Art/Math integrated unit at Mt. Vernon Elementary School is a resounding success! Over a period of months Dona has skillfully introduced the spiral theme to the students through their study and practice of art while Sarah led the investigation of the math behind the Fibonacci sequence. Students used higher order thinking skills to connect all aspects of the spiral to nature and their everyday lives! They deeply questioned, reasoned, and hypothesized, and as a result this study will be a springboard for future inquisitive studies!” Pia Holmes, principal Mt Vernon Elementary School.

Thank you to art teacher Dona Seegers for sending this blog post to share on the meartsed blog.

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