Posts Tagged ‘teaching artist’


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.

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. 


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.


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 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



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

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.


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.




October 21, 2017

Art Teacher and Teaching Artist collaborate

Acton Elementary School students in the EXPLORE: Visual Art program worked with Maine Teaching Artist Ann Thompson to create woven wheels, kinesthetic sculptures using bicycle wheels and nylon climbing rope. Ann collaborated with Art Teacher Cami Davis to create and install the pieces at Kelly Orchards in Acton during Applecycle, a bicycle tour of orchards in southern Maine on Saturday, October 14. The sculptures will take permanent residence on the school grounds along with six other pieces that will hang indoors.
Cami said: “Students loved working collaboratively on the three dimensional pieces and learning about the donated and recycled materials used to create the sculptures.”
Applecycle is a fund raiser for the Community Bicycle Center
after school youth development program.
And, Teaching Artist Ann Thompson, who is on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster said: “The CBC is one of my favorite collaborators and a vitally important program for our community!”



Conservation and Visual Art

June 4, 2017

Yarmouth High School Artist Residency

Art classes at Yarmouth High School in Maine are channeling their creativity in a new direction.  Students, led by internationally known artist Tim Christensen and Yarmouth High School Art Teacher Holly Houston, are creating clay masterpieces to showcase endangered wildlife from across the globe. The results are stunning and serve as an artistic display of the beauty in nature we strive to protect every day.

Students researched threatened and endangered critters to best convey their subjects through art. The students used clay to create sculptures, pots and tiles and later incorporated food and habitat needs and animal adaptations into their artwork using sgraffito, a carving technique. The contrast of light carvings on the dark surface draws the eye to every detail.

Each student approached the the assignment in a creative way to raise awareness for the species of their choosing. Not only did they develop new techniques for clay, but they learned how to share meaningful conservation messages through art.

Alex’s inspiration was the New England cottontail. “I was concerned with the endangered animals that live near and around me. This animal is found in young forest habitats which are depleted in this area and more habitat is needed to help it recover.”

Kelcie chose the piping plover as her focal species. “I chose the piping plover because it is an animal I am familiar with but did not know it was endangered before I started this project. The piping plover is found along the Atlantic Coast, including Maine. If you’ve been to the beach you have probably seen these birds before. They enjoy nesting on the beach near the dunes and forage for food near the waves. Unfortunately our presence of the beach has disrupted their habitat. In order for them to repopulate we need to give them space to breed and live.”

Daly describes how she planned to convey what she researched about the roseate tern through her work. “The viewer would be able to see where the roseate tern lived and what it ate, as well as their flight patterns. My primary goal with this piece was to convey this animal in the middle of an action, such as fishing or flying. The tern at the top was placed there in order to show how the Tern glided through the air, which would give the viewer clues about what kind of bird it was. The central tern was placed in order to show it capturing its food, something that also provides important information about this animal to the viewer.”

Many students had similar accounts; drawing attention to wildlife that need it most. Their work shows many species that are protected in many different ecosystems across the globe. For many species, work has been done to protect both wildlife and their habitat but much more is needed to ensure their survival. CLICK HERE to learn more about endangered species and how you can help!

The following post is being reprinted from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service blog located at THIS LINK.

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