Posts Tagged ‘summer institute’


Through the Intern’s Eyes

August 9, 2017

MALI: Enriching Arts Education in Maine

Hello there! My name’s Alex and this summer I’m working as an intern for the Maine Arts Commission. So far, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of the state-run cultural agency, what they stand for, the projects they support, and the events that they sponsor.

A typical week for me usually involves photographing public art, writing blog posts, compiling monthly arts events, and working on some graphic design. But last week, I took a break from my standard routine and joined nearly 70 arts educators at Thomas College where the Arts Commission hosted the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI).

Being the non-Maine native that I am, at first I had absolutely no idea what the institute was about. All I knew was that Thomas College’s quiet summer campus was all of a sudden bustling with crowds of energetic art teachers. Armed with my camera and my Nalgene water bottle, I set out to figure out what exactly was going on.

Luckily, I had the chance to sit down with Catherine Ring, one of the founders of MALI. She explained to me that the institute’s mission is to enrich arts education in Maine by enriching the skills of teachers themselves. In the 7 years since its creation, MALI’s professional development training has created an army of veteran “Teacher Leaders” who have shared their creative knowledge with over 1500 educators around Maine. At MALI, Teacher Leaders turn their experiences into lessons, sharing their creative methods with other arts educators through workshops, presentations, and webinars.

Catherine also said that a large part of being a Teacher Leader is acting as a liaison with their respective school districts, functioning as a representative voice for art teachers and students in their region.

It’s during these three action-packed days that the MALI summer institute aims to enhance arts educators’ skills, which in turn leads to empowered students who enjoy stronger ownership over their creative learning processes.

And what’s even more exciting is that by the end of the three days, each teaching artist and teacher leader will create and outline an individual action plan for the upcoming school year. The project could be anything from leading a workshop for an entire school’s faculty, to using grant money to create a new gallery space for a school community.It was inspiring to see the level of care the teachers have for bettering themselves and their lesson plans for their students. There’s so much that goes into prepping for the school year, and these arts teachers are dedicated, passionate, and itching to inspire.

During the institute, I crept into classrooms filled with teachers taking part in workshops, attending lectures, and sharing ideas for the sake of creative collaboration. Leaders spoke about assessments of creativity, the importance of problem-solving, and the values of media in the classroom, amongst many other topics. There was laughter, there were snacks, and there was something in the air that made Thomas College’s Admissions building come to life.

What I observed over the three days is that MALI works to better student’s education by strengthening the roots of creativity and learning. MALI’s intentions are so admirable that the feeling of personal and community enrichment was palpable. As much as MALI is a teaching space, it also functions as a meaningful point of community for visual and performing arts teachers and teaching artists who may feel isolated in less populated school districts. Just sitting in on the events for a few minutes offered me a glimpse into the importance of arts education on every level, from leader to teacher, teacher to teacher, teacher to student. I have no doubts that MALI has made a significant impact on arts education in Maine, and I’m sure the students feel that as well.


Alexandra Moreno is an intern at the Maine Arts Commission, a rising senior at Bowdoin College, and a happy human. She enjoys writing, collaging, and fun.



Teaching Artist Opportunity

May 26, 2017

Calling Teaching Artists – You’re Invited!

Summer Professional Development

Tuesday, August 1, 8:00 to 4:00

Thomas College, Waterville

The Maine Arts Commission invites teaching artists to attend an all day professional development opportunity on Tuesday, August 1. This will take place on the first day of the MAC Maine Arts Leadership Initiative summer institute on the beautiful campus of Thomas College in Waterville.

Teaching Artist Tim Christensen working with a Camden Rockport Middle School student during a residency

This year’s Teaching Artist professional development day is designed to focus on the role of the teaching artist and the relationship between the teaching artist and the K-12 arts educator.

The day includes workshops designed specifically for Teaching Artists focusing on a variety of topics: practices for Teaching Artists including standards, assessment, advocacy, marketing yourself, and more.

What will you get when you attend the Maine Arts Commission professional development day?

  • Information on applying your expertise as an artist to the structuring of your lessons and residencies.
  • Hands-on experience in relating the learning standards and assessments to your work.
  • Opportunities to network with PK-12 visual and performing arts teachers from Maine schools.
  • Participation in sessions that are planned to fit your needs as a teaching artist.
  • A light breakfast, a yummy lunch, and afternoon snacks

Teaching Artists interested in attending must register by CLICKING HERE.

Teaching Artist John Morris working with students in MSAD#33

To apply for the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster artists are required to attend the summer professional development opportunity. The Commission will be accepting applications in the fall of 2017. CLICK HERE for the MAC Teaching Artist roster.

Presented by Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) of the Maine Arts Commission. To learn more about the MALI please CLICK HERE. Facilitated by Teaching Artist John Morris and Music Educator Kate Smith.

If you have any questions please contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education, Maine Arts Commission, or John Morris at



Summer Institute – MALI

August 10, 2015

Successful plus

IMG_1941Last week MALI had its summer institute at USM in Portland where 60 educators participated in professional development. On the first day 13 Teaching Artists had the chance to learn about standards, technology tools, and creativity in action. The feedback  pointed to a success for all involved.

Twelve new Teacher Leaders were selected for Phase 5 and during the three days they had many chances to expand their thinking in Assessment, Proficiency and Standards, Advocacy, Leadership, and Technology. They created an Action Plan that guided them to design a workshop that they will present during the 2015-16 school year.

IMG_1918Returning Teacher Leaders learned about the Logic Model and how to create a plan that will lead them to action. They had workshops on Messaging, Social Media, Cross Disciplinary Teaching, and Leadership. They collaborated to create drafts of MALI belief statements on several topics that are key to MALI.

The opportunity to network and interact with each other was definitely a highlight for all attendees. The Leadership Team and some Teacher Leaders took on leadership roles to facilitate sessions. They were amazing!

IMG_1901On the third day each teacher shared their action plans and logic model plans using the critical friend model and ended with a gallery walk that was amazing! The teachers were pleased to have so many comments to help them with their next step. It was so impressive to see what they accomplished in a short period of time.

Teacher Leaders will be sharing their work in a more final stage on August 20 with critical friends. If you’d like to participate in the Critical Friends day please let me know ASAP by emailing me at

I will share more information on the MALI summer institute in future posts.


Reflecting on the Summer Institute

July 10, 2013

Thinking, thinking, thinking


Participants discussing information at the summer institute, June, MECA

I spent some time this weekend putting together the lists of feedback on different topics that we focused on with the teacher leaders at the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative summer institute. It was a good activity since I didn’t have to move around much in the heat. One of the final exercises was to ask the teacher leaders to take a moment and reflect on the work during the three days.


They wrote their reflections to these three questions on stickies that were put on chart paper:

  1. What is circling around in your head?
  2. What are three questions you have?
  3. What is squared with your beliefs?
Dance teacher MaryEllen Schaper and Early Childhood/music educator Judy Fricke compare notes

Dance teacher MaryEllen Schaper and Early Childhood/music educator Judy Fricke

The answers were varied but also clustered. During the institute we spent a day discussing proficiency.  Participants wrestled with “what does it look like in the visual or performing arts classroom when put up against a standard?” This work helped to prepare for the high school diploma coming in 2018 that will be based on students showing proficiency of the standard. No longer will schools be graduating students based on their seat time but by demonstrating accomplishment of the standards. At the local level you will be making the decision on what that looks like.

After a day of discussions while looking at and/or listening to student work samples some teacher leaders still had circling around in their heads: “What is proficiency?” “How to organize teaching/assessment to check student proficiency.” “I get the importance of standards but it still boggles my mind how differently we “interpret” them and how differently we use them across the state.”How do we make sure that EVERY school district in Maine offers instruction in VPA that is sufficient for all students to become proficient?” This is not an easy question to answer however, everyone agreed that the conversations are important, necessary, and that they were glad to have the opportunity to be involved in the discussion. As I typed this weekend I wondered: how many teachers across the state are having this type of conversation?!

Visual art teacher Charlie Johnson and music teacher Patti Gordan

Visual art teacher Charlie Johnson and music teacher Patti Gordan

And for question #3:

“Student feedback informs instruction. Formative assessments. Summative assessments.” “Collaboration and good leadership create a vibrant environment for professional growth.” “I can do this has changed to I AM doing this. The process is far enough along to look back and see success.”

Much of what I read reflects the confidence these teacher leaders have and their willingness to learn from each other and understand that learning is ongoing. They’ve made a commitment to teaching but they’ve also made a commitment to go above and beyond to be a leader. Thirty five teacher leaders are preparing workshops this summer that combines what they learned with their experiences and past knowledge. They will gather in the middle of August to share their workshops for feedback from their colleagues. In the fall they will begin a round of  workshops at the regional, mega-regional and statewide level. It is a pleasure to watch their workshops form and their creativity in action. I am grateful that they are doing this important work that benefits all arts educators and ultimately our students are the big winners. So, THANK YOU TEACHER LEADERS!

I suggest you watch this blog for the schedule of workshops taking place during the school year. One date I do know at this point is the statewide conference called Arts Education: Leading the Way being held at UMaine, Collins Center for the Arts, Thursday, October 24. The cost for the one-day conference is $75 which includes a choice of 35 workshops, a keynote, performances, and lunch. You can purchase your ticket at Our conference this year precedes the Maine Arts Commission two-day conference, The International Conference on Arts and Culture: Strengthen the Core, 2013.

Sitting leadership team member Catherine Ring, (standing) music educators Jen Nash and Bill Buzza, and art educator Shannon Westphal

(Seated) leadership team member Catherine Ring, music educators Jen Nash and Bill Buzza, and art educator Shannon Westphal


Looking for Arts Teachers

May 26, 2013

Call for Applications to Summer Institute
for Maine Visual and Performing Arts Educators
July 23 – 25, 2013
Pine Tree Camp, Smithfield, Maine

The Maine Arts Commission and Syntiro are announcing a call for applications from Maine educators for a three-day summer institute focusing on teaching arts to K-12 students with disabilities.

20130513_100728 The institute will accommodate a total of 15 educators who will be part of a team developing new techniques and best practices for teaching arts to K-12 students with disabilities. The learning experience will consist of both structured training and real time opportunities to work with students. Each participant will receive a $200 stipend to assist with travel.

The summer institute will be held at the Pine Tree Camp in Smithfield, ME, July 23-25, 2013. This beautiful camp is nestled on the shore of North Pond with rustic large cabins and a mile of shorefront.  Participants will spend three days fully immersed in camp enjoying meals and free time with students, while having the opportunity to participate in professional development designing arts curricula throughout the day.  Overnight lodging is available and encouraged. Pine Tree Camp will be providing participants with a large group cabin for their use during the three days at no charge. There are hotels available offsite if you prefer but they would be at your own expense.

By the end of the 3 days, success will look, sound, and feel like:

  • a deeper understanding of students with disabilities
  • an opportunity to learn techniques to help all students succeed in the arts
  • an opportunity to participate in designing curricula that engages  students with disabilities
  • a collaborative arts experience that engages students and helps teachers learn through hands-on experience
  • an understanding of ways various arts mediums can be used to engage students with disabilities
  • Practice using specific skills that promote arts participation and comprehension for students; and
  • Confidence and eagerness to act in new ways that will optimize the performance of the students with whom you are working.

Applications will be reviewed by looking at the following:

  • A brief resume of classroom experience;
  • what skills, perspectives and experiences you hope to bring to the experience;
  • what you hope to gain from the experience;
  • a description of any past experiences you may have had working with students with disabilities;
  • an explanation of what makes you a good candidate for this summer institute.

Submit Application
The institute is open to Maine educators with at least three years of classroom experience. Preference will be given to visual and performing arts educators. Fifteen participants will be chosen based their application. Please CLICK HERE for an application. Chosen participants will be notified by June 21, 2013.

Participants are required to stay from 8-4 each day. Overnight lodging is free, encouraged and available. This is intended to be a full immersion program.

20130513_111310DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: JUNE 20, 2013


MAAI Resources!

September 5, 2012

Maine Arts Assessment Resources

Recently revamping the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative wiki moved to the top of the list of “things to do”. It was prompted by a question from the field, a high school art teacher who emailed asking if the information (“notes and/or minutes”) from the summer teacher leader assessment institute sessions was available. He has been following the work of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative (MAAI) including the blog posts, webinars, and other resources we have made available on the wiki and Department assessment webpage It was as if the teacher had whacked me upside the head. I thought “why don’t we post the handouts, links, and information that we provided in each of the sessions?”

That is when I moved the task up to the top of the “to do” list and Catherine Ring and I skyped to determine who had time to do what, and where we wanted to make changes on to provide as many resources to all of you as possible from the summer institute.

This is another example of the MAAI transparency. If you want to get to the summer resources page quickly here is how to do that. Go to read through the front page, and towards the bottom you will see in capital letters INFORMATION AND RESOURCES. Click there for the  Table of Contents. Click on 2012 Summer MAAI Institute Resources which will take you to a TON, I mean MEGA amounts of resources on the four main topics of the summer institute; ASSESSMENT, LEADERSHIP, TECHNOLOGY, and CREATIVITY. The workshop facilitator is listed with the information so you know the sources. Along with the four topics there are many other resources including books, .pdfs, articles, research, and so much more it will take you several rainy days to get through all of it. Is everything included from the summer institute? No, this would be impossible since the Teacher Leaders and other participants shared continuously throughout the 4-day institute held at MECA in July/August. But you know what it is like when you get together with arts educators; the willingness to share is unbelievable! Is it only from the summer institute? No, but most of it is. There are arts education resources that have been shared during other workshops and on the Department site.

My suggestion is to share this page with your colleagues, administrators, and determine what you can use for your local curriculum and assessment development work that you are doing this school year. Please let me know how you use the resources that we’ve provided for all of you!!

A great big THANK YOU goes to the MAAI Leadership Team who facilitated the MAAI summer sessions and our New England colleagues who stepped in and did sessions on the Common Core State Standards and National Arts Standards. I won’t mention any names here with fear of omitting some but please know that it is several amazing arts educators!

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