Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Gould’


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Sarah Gould

April 7, 2015

MAAI Teacher Leader series

This is the eighth 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.

4747f3_99e8f0ca14cd47a597dd42c859c217f3.jpg_srz_p_147_138_75_22_0.50_1.20_0Sarah Gould is a Visual Art teacher who is on her ninth year at Gray- New Gloucester High School. This semester she has just over eighty art students in her classes that range from Foundations, Sculpture, Ceramics, Painting, and IB Art. She has been department head and a teacher leader team member at the school for seven years.

Sarah is actually a GNGHS alumni, who came back as a long-term substitute for her high school art teacher, who then decided not to return after her maternity leave. Sarah earned her BFA at USM with a concentration in Art Education in 2006 with a double focus in drawing and ceramics.

What do you like best about being an art educator?!

I can’t say as if there is one single thing I like best about being an educator, it is the complete picture that encompasses so much; connecting with students, teaching them, watching them grow, encouraging them, giving them the power to be proud of themselves, celebrating accomplishments with them, learning about life as well as art.

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

Comfortability. Art, visual or performing, naturally displays student ability. Kids can be nervous to participate in fear they will be no good, and that others are going to see it. I think providing an open, safe, friendly environment is an absolute must to nurture student participation, experimentation, and expression.

Personalization. Some students have natural ability, others have to work for it. Students all connect with different media and processes. Each has their own personal interests and pathways ahead. I think it is important to find how art can fit or connect into students lives, so they can value it’s importance and relevance as it’s importance to them. Also leaving room for personalization and student choice creates greater investment on top of creativity. !

Balance between “fun” and “rigorous.” I think we all want students to enjoy our classes and find inspiration in the things we teach and love. I also think we all want students, parents, colleagues and administration to respect our content areas. I do think there are many ways to find a balance, and it certainly looks different for everyone. But I think it is possible and important to find a happy place between students being excited to come to class to create and perform, and also want to work hard and have an appreciation for the subject and what they are learning.!

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

Assessment has played a large role in my teaching style, especially over the last few years. When we started our early transition to becoming a proficiency based school, the theory and the practice had a large effect on my approaches and strategies. Once we organized our standards and broke down what we wanted to assess, it changed our curriculum, units, lessons, and targets. With assessments and rubrics, it became clear what we were measuring, and in turn what to teach. It also became more clear to students, who then knew expectations, why they earned certain scores, and how to improve or revise their work. It also became a tool to communicate with parents, who may have thought scores were based on personal opinion. Well made assessments have gained our department respect and have become an advocacy tool.

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

It has been great being a part of the MAAI work. Making connections and forming relationships with other teachers in the same content area can be awakening and rewarding both. It’s always nice to meet others with similar passions, and interesting to hear how different schools are structured, but learning from one another is the greatest benefit. I have found the conferences provide an open and understanding atmosphere where you can feel comfortable asking questions or sharing what you do. It is the friendly atmosphere that made me feel comfortable in becoming a teacher leader and presenting what I do, hoping someone can learn something from me and take that with them as I have from others in the past.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I think I am the most proud of building a well structured and respected art program. The other art teacher and I have worked really hard for years designing our courses and curriculum, and are constantly making changes, revising, and improving what we do. I believe we have earned respect professionally and in the community.

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

Time. There is never enough time! I know I could invest more, and use strategies better, and add steps, but sometimes there just isn’t time. Time in the block, time in the day, the week, the quarter, the year. There are so many things I’d love to do with my kids, and I can’t squeeze them in, or find time myself outside of the school day to further develop ideas. Most obstacles we can work around, but time seems to be the one thing I always need more of.

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

I think originally when I became the electives department head/ teacher leader at GNGHS some felt that I didn’t deserve or earn the position because I was a relatively young and new teacher. But I took the role very seriously and have invested myself in the greater improvement of our school, and I think I literally worked my way out of the doubts others had and proved myself.

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

Well, who knows what the future holds, but I would say the biggest piece of advice I can think of now is to be constantly evolving. Change what you do, let go of things that don’t work, take chances and try new things, revise things that work and make them better, be inspired yourself and keep things exciting, adapt to changes, be constantly changing and growing yourself, as an educator and artist, visual and/or performing.

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

Hmm… how far does $500,000 go? Our economics class does that project, maybe I should sit in! 🙂 As an art educator I would like to invest in a program for either underprivileged children or a program for individuals struggling with mental or emotional wellness as a means of therapy.

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

I dislike the thought of having regrets, I like to think we should try to appreciate the path we have taken and what it has given us. With that said, I do fear that I will look back and be disappointed I didn’t take more risks, or take advantage of opportunities, or push myself harder. I’m afraid of playing it too safe. Perhaps knowing that fear will encourage me to prevent it from happening and break out of what I find comfortable.

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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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