Posts Tagged ‘teaching artist’

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MALI Teaching Artist Leader Story: Nicole Cardano

April 24, 2018

Teaching Artist – Theatre

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 Nicole for sharing your story!

Nicole Cardano has been teaching Drama and Improvisational Theater in the schools for eight years.  She teaches students in grades K-12 and adults. The majority of Nicole’s work has been with 5-8th graders. She has seen the most growth with this age group. Through Nicole’s studies and practice of improvisational theater she have connected to the foundational philosophies of Listening, Support, Eye Contact and Respect. The games that she teaches and her directorial mindset work from these foundations. Nicole believes in the process being more valuable than the product. Learning and developing these skills fosters a stronger community, a place of open listening and supportive fun.

What do you like best about being a teaching artist?

The thing I like best about being a teaching artist is expanding the awareness and experiences of connection through the practice of theater. As a teaching artist you are visiting many different environments and working with a large variety of people. My learning experience is constantly expanding. I have the opportunity of teaching theater as a tool for people to enhance social communication as well as deepen content connection.

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

Providing a variety of opportunities for the students to connect. Recognizing that our strengths and challenges are different for each person. Being patient with yourself and the process. Every experience is new.

Have you found assessment to be helpful in your classes, workshops and residencies, and if so, how?

At this stage I find assessment to be most helpful in further communicating the validity of the practice. Articulating the progress that you saw within a class or with a particular student heightens the understanding of the importance of your work. I welcome recommendations on learning more formats of assessments that others have had success with.

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

Joining this supportive, creative and inspiring community has been an honor. The knowledge that we share with each other is endless due to so many different areas of expertise and experiences. I enjoy each and every conversation, and always wish I had more time with each person. I want to take everyone’s class!

What are you most proud of as an artist and/or a teaching artist?

I enjoy observing unexpected moments of pride. Such as experiencing success and true engagement from students that the teachers may not have thought would gravitate towards this work. Theater is a tool to learn with. That concept has been difficult to translate. I find that there can be a misconception that I am trying to work with the “theater kids”.  The theater kids are wonderful but that is not what fuels me to find opportunities for bringing the practice of theater into the school day. People want to play, students want to play, and at the right time teachers want to play too. We learn a great deal from each other in the act of play. In one of my first years as a Teaching Artist I went out of my way to recruit students that were not identified as being a part of any particular extracurricular interest, students that would easily have been predicted to become ‘At Risk’. Out of this selection there was one student that I quickly recognized needed to play extravagant characters. The feedback I received from a professional who had known that student for nine years was that they did not know that they could do this. Demonstrating longevity with supporting these students is something that I aspire to.

What gets in the way of doing a better job as a teaching artist?

Nicole at the Maine Arts Leadership Summer Institute

Having a set program where I am able to work with the students over their schooling years would be ideal. My work is designed to give the students Freedom through the practice and environment of Respect. This philosophy goes a long way for students that may often struggle in school, or struggle with believing in their own education.

School did not come easy to me. Teachers liked my personality, but many times did not know where to place me as a student. I had test anxiety, was a slow reader and easily lost my interest in a standard classroom setting. I could connect with people. Theater has been a life skill. This has been a way for me to study people and culture. Improvisation has allowed me to directly connect. I often think and process information with the tools of theater and improv. Relaxing a student, and providing play with the foundational rules of improv allows for a safe place to learn and interact.

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

Expanding the work. Reaching new schools, classrooms and age groups. The majority of my work is truly for all ages. I have learned to zone in on the philosophies and foundations of practice that speak to all, while also finding exercises that more directly fit certain ages and environments.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a teaching artist or is just starting out?

Start with one project and observe/assess that. What did you most enjoy? What was challenging? What would you do differently? Where would you like to see this work continue? Then find a home for a second project based on this information, and repeat.

Be aware of what your needs are. I recognized that as an individual artist that I needed more recognition for my work and a business format. I have since launched a non-profit entitled “Theater Today”. I continue to work at this. The mission for my non-profit is:  “Theater Today facilitates, educates, and leads the mindset of drama, improvisational theater and play as a developmental tool.  We are social education and emotional growth through the medium of play, practiced in any format and with any organization.”

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

MALI Summer Institute – Teaching Artist actor, theater maker Dana Legawiec, Nicole, Wiscasset High School Theater teacher Jean Phillips

The truth is I would distinctly support my non-profit. Creating programming that was not as limited by funding, time constraints of finding funding, and provided more consistent support. I would be intentional on what would create longevity for Theater Today, and the goals that we aspire to reach. Allowing plans to be big, while continuing to be clearly thought out. Creating the opportunity for the practice of theater to become a normal part of learning. Give talks on the importance of play. How human connection through play can promote a more positive human existence for all.

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

Wow, how fast time has gone by. I am now 94. I am proud of the differences I have been able to make.  That theater is recognized, appreciated and utilized as a tool for learning and improving communication. I am filled with joy that I have been able to travel the world and meet so many amazing people. I laugh at the moments of confusion I had as a younger person. Embrace today and now. Life is outstanding! Enjoy it, and consciously share your love of it!

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MALI Teaching Artist Leader Story: Dana Legawiec

April 3, 2018

Teaching Artist – actor, theatre maker

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 Dana for sharing your story! You can find Dana’s teaching artist profile on the Maine Arts Commission roster

Dana Wieluns Legawiec (‘Wheel-ins’ ‘Luh-GAHV-yetz’) is an actor, theatre maker and arts educator who specializes in Physical Theatre. Dana teaches Stage Movement with the Department of Theatre at the University of Southern Maine, and works as a teaching artist in local schools. She’s been teaching just about as long as she’s been making theatre, leading physical training for her professional theatre ensemble – so for about 25 years – but she’s been working more consistently in elementary and secondary schools for the last eight years. Every age group brings its specific challenges, discoveries and delights. Dana is currently inspired by the creativity, energy and fearlessness of elementary school kids.

What do you like best about being a teaching artist?

I love dropping into a new community, becoming a sponge to the energy and dynamics in the room, and assessing and meeting the needs of the group and individuals—drawing out the stories they need to tell, the way they want to reimagine themselves and their worlds, the bodies they want to animate.  The promise of transformation has drawn me and kept me working in the theatre, and I strive to create that potential for students.

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

Dana in the back coaching high school acting interns for the Camden Shakespeare Festival’s 2015 production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.

Hmmm. I’ve returned to school myself (pursuing an M.Ed. in Arts in Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education) to ponder this very question…I’ll have to get back to you when I’ve landed on a definitive answer!  Eric Booth says “80% of what we teach is who we are;” giving kids access to artists who are actively engaged in the arts-making process, who are living an artist’s life first and foremost, has value.  I believe the process IS the product; that the process centers on posing challenging questions rather than finding right answers.  I also believe in the power of collaboration and ensemble, and that arts education should provide opportunities for kids to work together and lead in every possible permutation.  I am a fan of David Perkin’s theory of learning as “playing the whole game:” programs that allow kids to tackle big, ambitious projects with lots of moving parts have enormous potential for realizing ‘the impossible’ and making learning whole. Theatre affords the opportunity to play ‘the whole game’ of human experience.  OK, I guess that’s four things 😊.

Have you found assessment to be helpful in your classes, workshops and residencies, and if so, how?

In my experience and context, I have not yet been exposed to much in the way of formal assessment. But I have experienced the necessity for clear communication between stakeholders to align the values and purposes between those in the room (kids, teachers, teaching artists) and outside the room (administrators, funders, parents, school board, community).

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

Definitely the people! This can be lonely work. It’s very buoying to meet others who are in the same space. It’s also inspiring to meet teachers who are artists themselves, who’ve found ways to integrate their art and teaching practices within the school setting. MALI provides a ton of resources and a robust network of support.

What are you most proud of as an artist and/or a teaching artist?

Honestly, to still be working in the space as a theatre artist. When we moved to rural Maine eight years ago from Los Angeles, I had the fantasy of rehearsing in a big empty barn, putting on shows in the local town hall, weaving together day-to-day life with creative work based in community.  Well, it isn’t always pretty or easy, but I like to think I’m ‘living the dream’ every day.

Dana at the MALI Summer Institute

I’m proud of my work toward establishing an extracurricular theatre program at my kids’ elementary school, Bowdoinham Community School, but this has truly been a group labor of love. The school’s principal, Chris Lajoie, created the initiative, bringing together a core group of dedicated parent-volunteers to spearhead the project. This is our third consecutive year putting on a school play. This year it’s a lean-and-mean adaptation (with a cast of 43) of Shakespeare’s rollicking comedy that we’re calling A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DANCE PARTY. Public performances are Saturday, April 7th at 3pm and 6pm.  Come one, come all!

I dream of the day when theatre will be fully integrated into the elementary school curriculum.

What gets in the way of doing a better job as a teaching artist?

Midsummer Night with participants

The same constraints that apply to any artistic endeavor (and possibly educational endeavors as well): time, space and energy. I do think confronting these challenges offers its own rewards: We don’t need a big fancy theater, expensive costumes or a ton of time to make great art. By the same token, I impress upon kids that their creative expression, exploration and play has value, is worth my time and energy. I hope that by modeling this behavior, I’m investing in the creative capital of the community. Ultimately, we need a cultural shift where the arts and arts education no longer have to scrape for dollars, minutes and respect. 

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

I’m fond of the expression “you make your own luck.”  I believe in intentionality; I believe that art only happens because one or more passionate, committed, brave and vulnerable people work tirelessly to make it happen. I hew to this message, because I want to challenge and empower young artists to mobilize.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a teaching artist or is just starting out?

Do your practice. Be flexible. Breathe. Teaching, learning, and art-making are two-way streets – prepare to learn at least as much from your students as you will share. And do share! Be generous with your knowledge, be transparent with your experiences, offer insights not usually gleaned from a classroom.

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

Dana clowning around

So glad you asked, because in my secret, other life, I’m a fantasy grant-maker. I’d create an incubator for arts and wellness initiatives in rural Maine. Maybe I’d open a community arts center. I wouldn’t reinvent the wheel, though, so I might funnel those funds right back into other arts and social service organizations that are doing great work. I’d shop local.

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

No, no regrets.  Nothing but gratitude.

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MALI Teaching Artist Leader Story: Brian Evans Jones

March 13, 2018

Teaching Artist – Poet

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 Brian for sharing your story! Learn more about Brian at his WEBSITE. You can find Brian’s teaching artist profile on the Maine Arts Commission roster

Brian Evans-Jones is mainly a poet these days but also does creative writing. Brian has been teaching since 2005 and doesn’t have a favorite grade or age to teach. “They all offer something different and wonderful. I like to teach by excitement and discovery. I want students to be excited about the idea of writing before they begin, and then to discover what they’re capable of while they actually do it. I want the whole experience to be fun—though also serious fun, the way that kids’ games can be serious.

What do you like best about being a teaching artist?

That’s a hard question! I guess first of all because I get to see a lot of different ages and types of students, and touch a lot of different lives. Lately I’ve also realized it’s because I get to partner with many wonderful great teachers and teaching artists. And on a personal level, I like the flexibility: I could never see myself being happy in a regular job! 

Brian at Hermon High School, November 2017

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

Thinking about creativity in general, I might say:

  • To be supported to take risks
  • To feel OK about failure
  • To learn the unique habits and (wholesome) props that scaffold your own personal creative process.

Have you found assessment to be helpful in your classes, workshops and residencies, and if so, how?

Not being a regular teacher, I don’t often think about “Assessment.” But I do constantly assess how the class is going, how students and I are bonding, how well I am generating enthusiasm, how well my instructions are being understood and used, how well balanced my activities are between support and openness, how much effort students are putting in, how much they seem to be learning, and how keen they are to keep working. I can’t imagine teaching a class without monitoring those things constantly, and many more, but I don’t formalize them. I do frequently use the SWOT framework to assess how I think a class went and plan for the next one, though.

Brian at Hermon High School facilitating a workshop to help guide students working on Poetry Out Loud

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

People! Meeting cool people who do similar things and make me feel encouraged. Also getting to work on specific projects in partnership with other MALI people, like Kris Bisson, Lindsay Pinchbeck, and Tim Christensen.

What are you most proud of as an artist and/or a teaching artist?

As an artist: winning the 2017 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers.

As a teaching artist: the fact that I do this at all, having jumped into the financial and professional unknown in order to do it. Also some big residencies I have run or am running, like working with 80 second graders for 2 weeks in South Berwick, ME, and leading a team of 4 TAs on a poetry residency with the 8th grade at Wells Junior High School.

What gets in the way of doing a better job as a teaching artist?

Isolation, which makes me less likely to find more work, and makes it harder to plan great classes. Collaboration and MALI connections work against this.

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

Leaving my role as a high school teacher, which didn’t suit me, to piece together a patchwork career, including being a teaching artist. It happened because I sought out any opportunities I could to get experience in the right areas.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about becoming a teaching artist or is just starting out?

See the previous answer! Plus also:

  • Make connections
  • Take (some) chances—trust the creative process with your career just as you do when you’re making art. 

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

Brian at the summer MALI institute leading a workshop on writing

That’ll be just enough to pay for college for my two kids by the time they’re ready to go, right? I wish I was even joking…

In a world where college didn’t cost so stupidly much, I would use the money to set up and fund a nonprofit to take poetry to places and people who need it but don’t get exposed to it: prisoners, the homeless, older adults, children in poorer areas, etc.

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

I should have ditched other work and done more teaching artist work sooner! It makes the most difference and is the most rewarding of the several things that I do.

NOTE: Brian traveled to Hermon High School and Van Buren District Secondary School in November 2017 to work with students with the Poetry Out Loud program that the Maine Arts Commission provides in collaboration with the Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Brian is on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster and is available to travel to schools and communities to provide poetry and creative writing instruction. 

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Ukulele Tutorials

February 17, 2018

Jeffrey Weinberger

You can access tutorials for the ukulele that Jeffrey Weinberger has created on his YouTube channel.

His latest one is below for you to check out, The 59th St. Bridge Song, the Simon and Garfunkle classic. Also known as Feeling Groovy from 1966.

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MAC Teaching Artist Roster

February 15, 2018

7 new artists

Seven Maine Artists Added to Arts Commission’s Teaching Roster

Maine Arts Commission’s roster provides additional resources for teachers and schools

AUGUSTA, ME, February 8, 2018—The Maine Arts Commission is pleased to announce the addition of seven new artists to its online Teaching Artist Roster.  Selected by the Arts Commission through an application process, teaching artists provide greater access for teachers, schools, and community groups to area artists who are trained and knowledgeable in classroom requirements throughout Maine. The following teaching artists have been recently listed on the roster:

  • Nicole Cardano

    Nicole Cardano, an actress who teaches elementary and middle school improvisational skills as well as theatre productions and show choir. She lives in Seal Cove.

  • Emilia Dahlin, a musician who teaches students to explore literary devices in songwriting to create powerful imagery and foster a strong sense of authorship. Emilia resides in Gorham.
  • Rob Duquette, a musician and songwriter whose lessons teach themes of resilience, compassion, kindness, gratitude, and a sense of purpose. Rob is from York.
  • Emilia Dahlin

    Kal Elmore, a printmaker who collaborates with teachers to develop lessons that help students experience a new media, a new technique, and/or a different way of thinking about visual art. She is from Old Town.

  • Russell Kaback, a musician and a storyteller who writes songs that tell the story of his grandfather’s life as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor.  Through lyrics and song, students make a lasting connection with the experience of a concentration camp survivor from the Nazi era to the present. Russell resides in South Portland.
  • Dana Legawiec, an actress whose recent teachings involve grade 3-5 students in mask, improvisational, physical theatre, and yoga. She is from Bowdoinham.
  • Rob Duquette

    Tom Luther, a musician who teaches piano and multimedia art. Tom applies traditional composition, improvisation, generative, and interactive techniques in his teaching, drawing freely from his experiences in numerous musical forms.  Tom is from Union.

“We are really proud of the learning opportunities that each artist on the roster provides to our schools and communities in Maine,” said Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education at the Arts Commission.

In addition to overseeing the teaching artist roster along with many other arts education programs and services offered by the Arts

Kal Elmore

Commission, Argy organizes the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Mega-Regional Conferences. Maine educators from PK-higher education are invited to participate in this year’s professional development opportunity at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in South Paris, Friday, March 23 at 8:30 – 3:15 p.m.  The workshop facilitators are Maine arts educators who will have dynamic ideas to share.

Since 2011, MALI has provided opportunities for hundreds of educators with inspirational workshops, presentations, and webinars at the school, district, regional, state, and national level. More information and event registration for the 2018 MALI Mega Regional is available here.

Russell Kaback

The Maine Arts Commission currently administers the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative as part of one of its five priorities, fostering PK-12 lifelong arts education programs, in its five-year cultural plan, Fortifying Maine’s Creativity & Culture. To learn more about any of the Maine Arts Commission’s arts education funding opportunities or programs, please contact Argy Nestor, Director of Arts Education at argy.nestor@maine.gov or 207/287-2713.

Dana Legaweic

Tom Luther

The Maine Arts Commission supports artists, art organizations, educators, policy makers, and community developers in advancing the arts in Maine. For more than 50 years the Commission has encouraged and stimulated public interest and participation in the cultural heritage and cultural programs of our state; has worked to expand the state’s cultural resources; and encouraged and assisted freedom of artistic expression for the well-being of the arts, to meet the needs and aspirations of persons in all parts of the state. Additional information is available at mainearts.com.

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Practicing My Way Back

November 6, 2017

Tom Luther

Tom is a piano player working at the Midcoast Music Academy and a new Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teaching Artist Leader. In September Tom had, not one stroke, but two. In line with Tom’s incredible positive attitude he is an amazing example of growth mindset.

Instead of sitting around feeling sorry for himself he decided to take advantage of his condition and document what he is doing as part of his rehab. Each week he creates a video that provides what and how he is doing for his students (and others).

His videos are located on his YouTube channel spheremusik. To date he has 7 videos in the series called Practicing My Way Back. If you are a music educator, I am sure they will be of special interest to you. All educators will find these fascinating and there is a good chance you will want to share these with your students for multiple reasons.

Tom can be reached at tomluther@midcoastmusicacademy.com

Tom did an interesting project that was included in a blog post in February called 1,000 Musicians Follow-up and a post in June about a course he was teaching called Live Coding Using Sonic Pi.

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Contra Dance Residency

November 2, 2017
Four Schools in One Week with Teaching Artist Chrissy Fowler
Opera House Arts (OHA) recently invited Belfast Flying Shoes (BFS) to co-sponsore a week of contra dance residencies on Deer Isle and the Blue Hill Peninsula – an exciting first for BFS!

Chrissy Fowler, MAC Teaching Artist

At the core of the collaborative outreach project, dance leader Chrissy Fowler and OHA education director Joshua McCarey visited four schools: Deer Isle – Stonington Elementary School (DISES), The Bay School, Explorations Learning Center, and Brooklin Elementary School. Over five days, 190+ amazing K-8 students, educators, and community members experienced the magic of traditional New England social dance; at the end of the week, the Stonington Opera House rang with the music of Sassafras Stomp and the dane floor was full of children and adults swinging and stamping in celebration.

hrissy, from Belfast Flying Shoes, in action

The project helped connect Chrissy with Audrey Means, a music teacher at Blue Hill Consolidated School who attended a CDSS teacher training this summer and has been dancing with her students ever since.

Below is a video documentation of the collaboration. (Thanks to Morgan and Tom at WABI for visiting DISES, and to Brooklyn Elementary School staff for sharing via Facebook. BFS outreach programs are funded through a grant from an anonymous foundation and tax-deductible contributions from individuals.
The residency was covered by WABI – Students Get Lesson in Kindness through Interactive Dance.

 

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