Posts Tagged ‘teaching artists’

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Two Teaching Artists’ Journeys

March 19, 2019

Nicole Cardano and Brian Evans Jones

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teaching Artists Leaders, summer institute, 2017. Brian is in the back row, third from the left. Nicole is in the front row, first person on the left.

I’m always interested in learning about the needs of teaching artists and how to better support them. I view their role in education as vital. Oftentimes it is the teaching artist who inspires a young person. Providing opportunities for learners in grades PreK through high school that include a teaching artist can be empowering for the learner. I have hope that every young person either becomes an artist or an appreciator of the arts as they continue learning on their life journey.

Those of us who have made arts education a career are so fortunate. We are engaged in the creative process as  individuals and have the chance to help young people develop their artistic ideas as well. When arts educators collaborate with teaching artists it is truly amazing. Both teachers learn but the ones who benefit the most are our students.

Pablo Picasso said: “Every child is born an artist, the problem is how to remain one once we grow up. I think of the artist in each of us as a fragile, beautiful and precious light, a creative spark inside of every person.”

Nicole and Brian at the MALI Summer Institute, 2018

Recently I asked two teaching artists who are leaders in the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) to ponder what has contributed to their success as teaching artists. Brian Evans-Jones and Nicole Cardano joined MALI in 2017 during the summer institute.

Brian Evans-Jones is a poetry and creative writing teacher who moved to southern Maine from the UK. He’s been writing poetry since he was 16. Brian has a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Warwick University.

“Since 2005 I have taught creative writing, which is as important to me as my own writing. I’ve taught all kinds of people, from 4 to 94, in all kinds of venues, and this is the main way I try to spread the appreciation of poetry.”

Nicole Cardano has been teaching Drama and Improvisational Theater in PK-grade 12 schools for eight years. In addition, she teaches adults. Nicole’s studies and practice of improvisational theater connect 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. You can learn more about Nicole’s work on Facebook at Theater Today, Nicole’s non-profit organization.

“This December I worked with elementary and middle school students in preparation for their field trip to see Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. The students learned about workhouses and the hard labor and often dangerous jobs that children did in London during the 1840’s. We imagined this world through writing and theater exercises.”

NICOLE, HER TEACHING ARTIST JOURNEY

I started out as a Teaching Artist before I knew that this job title even existed. I was teaching drama and improvisational theater at the Summer Festival of the Arts and re-establishing the drama club program at my alma mater, Pemetic Elementary School. One program would lead to the start of another one. In the last nine years the work has grown. I have formed a non-profit, Theater Today, and have been able to spearhead a larger program in partnering with The Grand Theater, in Ellsworth.

Two years ago I learned that The Grand had a program called Performing Arts for Children showing school-aged performances during the school day, but they were not getting the audiences that they hoped for. The opportunity to partner was clear. Several professionals collaborated to create a Community Arts Curriculum out of which grew my role as the Arts Outreach Educator. This is our second year of this outreach collaboration and we are working with the full student body of four schools, three serving grades K-8, and one 9-12 high school. I have worked with 1,311 students leading theater integration workshops in their classrooms since September of 2017 in just this partnership alone (not including the additional programs I still lead). After meeting with classroom teachers, I design improvisational theater workshops that provide connections between the classroom curriculum and the live theater field trips at The Grand.

I grew up locally on Mount Desert Island in Maine. I got my first taste of theater in school. This made me aware that I wanted to be able to sing better, as I could not really carry a tune. As luck would have it there was an outstanding vocal teacher in our town. Carol Cramer Drummond was an accomplished opera singer and became my performance mother. Carol taught me confidence through song and showed me another world. I struggled to learn in school in the format I was expected. My mother too had her own history of challenges in school. I am now raising my daughter, also as a single parent, and I find myself advocating for her experiential learning needs.

Theater was the only subject I could think to study as I went on to Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. Both of my parents supported this decision. I graduated cum laude with a departmental award of honors and minored in Spanish as an extension of my year abroad in Mexico. My senior year of college one of my theater professors was intrigued with the book “Truth in Comedy; the Manual of Improvisation” from the training and performing center IO (formerly Improv Olympic) in Chicago, IL. IO teaches long form improvisation, where you perform a full show based off of one audience suggestion. Our professor formed an improv troupe and we studied this book. I graduated college in May of 2001 and went home to work a summer job and await a New England Theater festival that I had been selected to compete in. I had plans to go to New York City to follow a job lead. That September our nation experienced 9-11. My understanding of the world as I knew it had changed. The job did not pan out. Going to Chicago to study improv felt like the most sensible and sane endeavour. I competed at the festival in January and flew out to take a level one class at IO. I stayed for the full year and completed the improvisational program. Chicago became my home. Improv was the language that I spoke. I continued to study, perform and work for ten years in this city.

I moved back home to Maine for family reasons. I was raising my three year old daughter and my father had gone through stage four bladder cancer due to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. Time moved forward and my daughter entered school. She was also displaying learning challenges and was not showing the results that our schools wanted. I served for a full term as the chair member of our local school to support education and to better understand it. I really enjoyed being a part of this team. My term ended and I had to decide where I could make a greater impact. My programs were growing and it is a conflict of interest to be on a school board and working in the schools. I continued to develop the work that I saw a need for and believe in. I formed Theater Today to continue this mission. Theater is a tool that helps to communicate and explore topics of interest. This has been true on my journey through life. The practice of theater is a social, emotional and educational tool for all. I embrace process more so than product.

I design the curriculum for the theater integration workshops as the Arts Outreach Educator with The Grand. In our first outreach workshop I was working with 8th graders. The show that they were scheduled to see was “Frankenstein”. The students were studying gothic romantic writing. I taught them about the significance of Mary Shelley and how she wrote Frankenstein, the first sci-fi novel, based on the real modern science of the early 1800’s. The science teachers invited me to speak on this in their classroom, and so I did. In these workshops we highlighted that we are in the middle of history. Through the use of improvisational theater we “built” Victor Frankenstein’s laboratory and acted out scenes on what could go wrong with today’s modern science….

Next I worked with high school juniors and seniors in preparation for seeing Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town”. With the practice of theater we explored the American Dream and enhanced public speaking skills.

This December I worked with elementary and middle school students in preparation for their field trip to see Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. The students learned about workhouses and the hard labor and often dangerous jobs that children did in London during the 1840’s. We imagined this world through writing and theater exercises. We explored Dickens mission of the important role of education in the fight against poverty.

The curriculum areas of integrated study have spanned grades K-12.

In the growth of the outreach program with The Grand I see that there could be more partnerships with other arts organizations in an effort to expand the community of learning. For example, art exhibits could have in-classroom workshops with visual artists in connection to gallery showings. The possibilities are endless. Partnering teaching artists with directors of arts organizations has the potential to create a lot more routine work for arts integration in our schools and blurring the line between classroom and community, thus creating more experiential learning opportunities. Many students, and adults, have not been exposed to all that their town or neighboring towns have to offer. Arts outreach expands the exposure to life that any one person has.

The programs with The Grand and Theater Today are primarily supported by grants and scholarships. We do hope to expand the sponsorship opportunities for this programming.

BRIAN, HIS TEACHING ARTIST JOURNEY

Path 1:

January 2005:  I am in the last year of my undergraduate degree in Creative Writing at Warwick University, UK. Not sure what to do after graduating, I go to see my course director and ask him, “How can I teach creative writing?” He tells me I should go see the professor who runs the university’s creative writing summer school for students aged 11-16. He gives me a job. I work on the summer school for the next 4 years, starting as an assistant for a couple of days, and ending up as a full teacher, staying for two weeks.

April 2006:  I am training as an English teacher in a vocational high school in Manchester, England. I hate it. The school asks for volunteers (unpaid) to run Enrichment workshops. Starved of creative writing teaching, I run one on story writing. 8 students attend.

June 2006:  I am interviewing for a full-time job as English teacher at another high school in England. The principal offers me the post. I say I’ll take it provided I can teach an hour’s creative writing a week, pointing to my experience on the Warwick summer schools and at my previous high school. He says yes.

January 2010:  My creative writing group at the high school has had enrolments of 12 students, 4 students, 18 students, and 23 students. I have organized annual competitions in poetry and fiction, getting the principal and vice principals involved in the judging. I have published chapbooks of the students’ work. In January of 2010, the head of Creative Writing at the local college (Winchester Uni) agrees to judge a fiction competition, teach a lesson to my groups, and give them talk about taking creative writing at college.

December 2010:  I have quit my job at the high school. I contact the head of Creative Writing at Winchester Uni to ask for work, and he asks me to teach an undergraduate course. I teach at Winchester Uni until I leave England in 2014, eventually increasing my teaching to 6 courses per year.

November 2011:  One of my colleagues at Winchester Uni starts an organization called the Hampshire Writers Society. I attend the first meetings to support her initiative. She tells me about a competition to become Hampshire Poet Laureate in 2012 and encourages me to enter. I enter it.

January 2012:  I am named Hampshire Poet Laureate. Over the next year, I am paid to write 4 poems and to run workshops in prisons and homeless hostels. The Poet Laureate also promotes my work as a teaching artist to schools throughout Hampshire. I set up an online project (Writing Hampshire) that encourages people to write poems about their favorite places in the region and submit them for web publication.

2012-13:  Approximately 30 schools contact me to ask me to run poetry workshops. About half of these want me to help students write poems for the Writing Hampshire project. Writers’ groups, arts centers, and community organizations also ask me to work for them. Combining my work as a college professor and teaching artist, I am teaching creative writing full-time.

Path 2:

June 2006:  I am completing my training as a high school English teacher. One of the requirements is to join relevant professional associations. I find an organization I’ve not heard of before called the National Association of Writers in Education. I don’t have much money, but I decide to join it.

July 2008:  All NAWE members receive a letter from the Open University. The OU is expanding its creative writing courses and wants new teachers. NAWE members are encourage to apply. I do, and I am given a course to teach.

June 2010:  After two years teaching my OU course, my manager contacts me. They have a vacancy at short notice, and would like me to take it. The combined income gives me enough money to quit my unhappy high school job and go freelance, albeit with a part-time income, but with more time to write.

December 2010:  I contact my local arts center. Based on my experience teaching for the OU, they hire me to run poetry and fiction workshops. By the time I leave England in 2014, I have run 30 workshops and classes fort them, for children and adults.

April 2013:  The manager of the Jane Austen House in Hampshire, England, attends one of my poetry workshops at the arts center. She hires me to run a poetry workshop at the Jane Austen House.

August 2014: I have moved to Maine with my family. We go to a children’s art event at the Jewett House in South Berwick. I get talking to the manager, and tell her about my work at the Jane Austen House. She hires me to run a writers group at the Jewett House and also some one-off creative writing workshops.

November 2015: With some others, I give a presentation at the New England Museums Association Conference on my work at the Jane Austen House and the Jewett House. Soon after the Conference, I am hired by two other historic buildings to run workshops for them.

May 2015:  I am at the end of my first year in grad school at UNH and looking for ways to fill the summer. I offer some free mentoring to a young writer who has come to my writers’ group at the Jewett House. Her mother is grateful, and invites me to go with them to an event called Big Night run by something called the Telling Room in Portland. I go, and I am hugely impressed by the Telling Room’s work with school students. I ask to train as a Telling Room Teaching Artist.

2016-2018:  I work on multiple residencies for the Telling Room, working with 7 schools and leading several residencies.

Path 3:

April 2016:  I am at the end of time in grad school at UNH and wondering about starting a creative writing nonprofit. I hear about a funding workshop run by the Arts Council of NH. I go to it and meet the woman in charge of Arts funding. We meet again later; she tells me about the NH Teaching Artist roster. I apply to the roster and am accepted.

May 2016:  I look for other rosters to apply to, and discover Maine has one. I apply, am accepted, and am invited to a Teaching Artists Training Day.

Brian conducting Poetry Out Loud workshop at Hermon High School

August 2016: At the Training Day. I meet Argy Nestor, who talks to me about Poetry Out Loud. I have experience of the British equivalent. Argy asks if I could do some workshops for POL in Maine. I say yes! I also meet Kate Smith, music teacher at my local elementary school. She tells me about our local Education Foundation, which funds projects in our district. She encourages me to apply for a grant to work with Central School in South Berwick. The grant is funded.

November 2016 and 2017: Argy sends me hundreds of miles to the parts of Maine that are farthest away from my home in South Berwick, bringing Poetry Out Loud wokshops to rural schools and broadening my knowledge of my adopted home state at the same time.

March 2017: My 2-week poetry residency with second grade at Central School in South Berwick takes place. 80 children all write several poems, redraft one to go in a chapbook, and share their learning with their parents.

Brian and Kris presenting, MALI Mega, March 2018

August 2017: Argy invites me to apply to the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). I attend as a Teaching Artist Leader. Kris Bisson, Chorus teacher at Marshwood Middle School, attends my poetry workshop. She asks me to be involved in a composition project with her 7th and 8th grade chorus groups, and writes a grant to the Marshwood Education Foundation.  I also meet Tim Christensen, potter and Teaching Artist extraordinaire; Nicole Cardano, improv artist; and Lindsay Pinchbeck, teacher of the integrated arts school Sweet Tree Arts.

Fall 2017:  I run my part of Kris’s chorus project. I meet the students for 6 sessions and help them write lyrics based on a local landmark bridge that is the focus of a community renewal project.

Tim Christensen, Brian, Lindsay Pinchbeck at Sweetland School

January and October 2018: Lindsay Pinchbeck invites me to Sweet Tree Arts to run collaborative residencies, first in partnership with Tim Christensen and later with Nicole Cardano.

2018:  The Arts Council of NH send me to schools throughout the Seacoast region of NH to run Poetry Out Loud workshops.

2018:  Kris Bisson and I present our collaborative project at MALI and at the MAMLE conference.

November 2018:  Argy asks me to make some Poetry Out Loud videos to be hosted on the Maine Arts Commission website. I work with student POL competitors and the MAC’s Ryan Leighton to plan and record the videos.

December 2018:  Kris’s chorus perform their composition piece at the State House in Augusta. I am privileged to attend.

This is not a complete picture of what I have done, but I hope it gives an idea of how my work as a Teaching Artist started, expanded, and changed. What I want to show is that I never planned to do this: every new thing emerged and developed from other things I did before, generally not knowing what they were going to lead to. I don’t claim that this is an ideal path: I still have not gotten back to being a full-time teacher of creative writing as I was in 2014, before I left Britain; and even then my income was barely enough to support a new family. But it has been a fun ride.

If I have advice for new teaching artists, it would be:

·      Find things to do that are the right things to do for you, however small at first.

·      Look for places to meet good people: people on the same wavelength as you.

·      Be as creative about your teaching are you are in your art.

Good luck!

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Call for MALI Teaching Artist Leaders

May 16, 2018

Application available – Deadline Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, Year 8

Visual and Performing Arts Teaching Artist Leader Application

Teaching Artist Leaders, MALI Summer Institute, August 2017

Join us for a GREAT opportunity! The Maine Arts Commission invites you to be a part of    the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI). Now in its eighth year, MALI offers a unique opportunity to learn and network with teaching artists and PK through grade 12 visual and performing arts educators from across the state. MALI is looking for teaching artists interested in leading and in taking a close look at effective teaching and learning in the arts. This is an opportunity for you to participate in professional development and networking, as well as to have a voice in the direction of arts education in the state of Maine.

APPLICATION

Deadline: Wednesday, June 13, 2018

If you are selected, you will be required to attend our summer institute, July 31, August 1 and 2, 2018. We will provide sessions to help you develop your ideas and support your work. We will then ask that you take what you’ve learned and share it with other teaching artists, educators and community members in your region and beyond.

Selected Teacher Artist Leader responsibilities for the 2018-19 school year include:

  • Full participation in the 3-day summer institute, July 31, August 1 and 2, 2018
  • Communicate in a timely fashion by email and in a MALI phase 8 google site
  • Be prepared for summer institute by completing pre-readings and responding to prompts with the MALI community
  • Critical Friends Day – follow-up to the summer institute, fall 2018
  • Participate in 2 meetings electronically with teaching artist leaders during 2018-19 school year
  • Contribute your teaching artist leader story for the Maine Arts Education blog
  • Attend a retreat to reflect on the phase 8 MALI work and plan next steps, winter 2019

Application requirements

  •    Current resume
  •    Letter of support
  •    Paragraph of interest

MALI BACKGROUND

Teaching Artist Leaders, MALI summer institute, August 2017

Since 2011 the initiative has been building capacity by training arts educators on the “what” and “how” of teaching and learning in the arts so they can provide the leadership in Maine through professional development opportunities. Teaching artists have been included in MALI for the past four years, and the goal of training Teaching Artist Leaders is now in its third year. As the initiative enters Phase 8, MALI has grown to include 101 leaders.

MALI’s OVERALL OBJECTIVES

  • Create and implement a statewide plan for teacher leadership in arts education. This includes professional development opportunities, locally, regionally and statewide, which will expand on the knowledge and skills of teachers and teaching artists to better prepare them to teach in a student-centered and proficiency-based learning environment.
  • Develop and implement standards-based high quality teaching and learning statewide for Visual and Performing Arts
  • Continue to build on expanding the team of arts educators and teaching artists representing all regions of Maine
  • Provide workshops and other professional development opportunities for educators

APPLICATION

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Who Are They? Oxford Hills Region Part 1

March 1, 2018

Folk Art Studio at Fiber and Vine

This blog post is part one of a series that aims to bring awareness to the Maine Arts Ed blog readers about the many visual and performing arts venues and educational opportunities in the Oxford Hills. The Oxford Hills Region of Maine is a perfect setting for the arts as it is centrally located where the rolling foothills of the White Mountains and beautiful lakes regions intersect. Located 45 miles north of Portland, 35 miles east of New Hampshire, and 20 miles west of Lewiston-Auburn, the region hosts multiple year-round opportunities for learners of all ages and a thriving arts community. The Oxford Hills School District (SAD17) is Maine’s largest school district in geographic area, with nine community schools, a regional middle school, a comprehensive high school and the Streaked Mountain School, an alternative school for high school students. The Oxford Hills serves the towns of Buckfield, Harrison, Hartford, Hebron, Mechanic Falls, Norway, Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Poland, Sumner, Waterford and West Paris. A great big THANKS to Diana Arcadipone for writing this series of posts.

The Folk Art Studio is housed in the downstairs space of Fiber & Vine at 402 Main Street in Norway. The studio offers a place for artists, craftspeople and makers of all mediums to gather, learn, share information, techniques, traditional crafts and art. Workshops are scheduled on a regular basis, usually on weekends, and have included Nuno Felting, Paper Making by Hand, Paint Brush Making with scavenged materials, Bookbinding, Doll Making from Scraps, Embroidery, Beading, Basketry, Printmaking, Wood Carving and more.

The studio was founded on the basis of Folk Art & Craft being for the people, by the people, and of the people.  Without ceremony, the folk arts have evolved by necessity over time and in every reach of the globe.  Clothing, toys and everyday objects were created within the community from materials that were readily gathered, harvested and processed, and with tools and implements that were rudimentary and easily fashioned. Historically, there were no textbooks or learning manuals, but rather information and techniques were handed down orally from grandmothers and elders to the younger ones. Technologies became tried and true and more sophisticated through time and progress. Today we live in a high speed digital world where information is easily accessed on our devices within seconds. The Folk Art Studio is a way to revisit the joy of creating in a relaxed collaborative atmosphere of learning and making, and revisit our inherit resourcefulness.

With the help of a Maine Arts Commission grant, the first year of programming was made possible and the Folk Art Studio was launched. Kimberly Hamlin, Manager and co-owner of the retail store Fiber & Vine (a yarn and wine shop) offers classes in knitting, embroidery, crochet, felting and the fiber arts and was a likely partner. Fiber & Vine offered space to help launch the folk art and craft center’s first workshops by lending a large wooden community table located at the back of the store (a work of art in and of itself). The Folk Art Studio enabled a handful of participants the chance to sit down in an inspiring environment, and make something beautiful and useful. Two years later, The Folk Art Studio accommodates as many as ten participants in a workshop setting in the downstairs of the store.

The Folk Art Studio engages local art educators, artists and artisans to offer one-day workshops at an affordable cost. It makes the studio available to artists who want to create their own programming to serve their established group of students. And, all participants are encouraged to request specific workshops that can be accommodated in the space. Recently, Fiber and Vine and The Folk Art Studio hosted an open house “Upstairs/Downstairs” where artists and artisans were invited to bring a current project to work on, enjoy lunch, snacks and beverages, and a controlled wine tasting in the store. So far, the line up of accomplished teaching artists include Don Best, Sarah Shepley, Kimberly Hamlin, Kristin Roy, Rebecca May Verrill, Becky Cheston, Patt Pasteur, Kate Castelli and Diana Arcadipone.

Although the workshops have primarily served adult learners, Fiber and Vine hosts a “Kids Craft Club” and plans to offer kids studio classes through The Folk Art Studio, gearing up for this summer. Continuing Education Certificates are available to teachers. SPRING WORKSHOP PROGRAM or on Facebook: Folk Art Studio at Fiber & Vine.

Saturday Workshops Scheduled this Spring

  • March 10: Wild Crafted Basketry with Rebecca Verrill
  • April 14: Woodworking with Don Best
  • April 28: Letterpress Postcards with Kate Castelli
  • May 5: Bead Loom Bracelets with Becky Cheston
  • June 16: Coiled Fabric Basketry with Patt Pasteur

Interested in learning more about the Folk Art Studio? Email Diana Arcadipone at arcadipone@gmail.com.

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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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Who Are They? Portland Stage – Part 3

October 11, 2017

PLAY

Portland Stage, located in Portland, Maine, offers vital theater arts education to learners ages 4-18 through our In-Theater and In-School programming. All classes and workshops are taught by professionally trained Teaching Artists and focus on literacy, cultural awareness, collaborative play, and creative thinking. Our teaching philosophy highlights process over product, deepening students’ ability to analyze, synthesize, and think critically while making connections to the thoughts and ideas behind the written word. This is one of a series of 6 blog posts outlining who we are and what we do, brought to you by Hannah Cordes, Education Manager, and Julianne Shea, Education Administrator. These posts will appear September 27 through November 1, 2017, on Wednesday’s.

Education Artists Bess Welden and Julia Fitzgerald at a Play in Schools dramatic reading Photo by Aaron Flacke

Portland Stage’s PLAY in Schools program brings children’s books to life through a school-wide dramatic reading, followed by interactive classroom workshops. The goal of PLAY is to connect theater with literacy by making literature performative and encouraging character recall, understanding of themes, emotional recognition, physical storytelling, and vocal characterization. We actively engage students in small groups/workshops using their bodies, voices, and imaginations to build understanding of the text while bringing the stories and characters to life.

Each school-wide dramatic reading includes three picture books and two poems centered on a theme. These themes range from Choosing Kindness to Made in Maine. It is exciting to explore books that young people know well and to introduce them to new stories. During the 2016-2017 season, we included Chris Van Dusen’s The Circus Ship. Each time we announced the title of this book at the all-school assemblies, the room would erupt in cheers. Beverly Coursey, the principal at Ocean Avenue Elementary School, said it was like when Billy Joel announces that he will be performing “Piano Man”! There is nothing quite like listening to a room full of elementary school students laugh at a particularly funny story or moment! It is a privilege to witness this reaction to so many engaging stories. We ask each audience to pay attention to the three actor tools (Portland Stage defines these three tools as body, voice, and imagination) that will be used during the reading. That way when the students enter the workshop, they are prepared and empowered to explore their own actor tools to bring the story alive in their own way.

We then give students the chance to dive further into these works during workshops with our professional teaching artists. We are delighted by students’ thoughts and creations as they explore their actor tools through the texts and characters. On our third and final visit of the year to one classroom, the students were invited to write their own versions of Holly Meade’s If I Never Forever Endeavor. After a year of exploring their actor tools with Portland Stage Teaching Artists, the students wrote this poem:

“If I never endeavor to perform, I won’t get to try and be brave.
If I did endeavor to perform, I could play with my voice, my body, and my imagination!”

Nathan Pike from Ocean Avenue Elementary stated that his students’ “creativity, physical movement, and imagination” when engaging with stories “has dramatically improved since participation in the PLAY workshops. Portland Stage has become a vital component to the culture and learning of our students.”

Education Manager Hannah Cordes in a Play in Schools Workshop Photo by Aaron Flacke

Theatrically exploring text can help students find a new way in to reading. Alec Lapidus, PhD, and Heba Ahmed from the Literacy, Language, and Culture Program at University of Southern Maine produced a report on the PLAY program titled Multiliteracies in Maine: The Play Me a Story Program. They state that “PLAY caters to a wide array of learning styles and linguistic backgrounds, offering a variety of ways to interact with content, explore new ideas and concepts, and create meaningful output…As the learners use their body, voice, and imagination to observe, analyze, interpret, and express thoughts on the world around them, they become able to go beyond passively absorbing information provided to them…This multiliteracy approach is clearly indicative of the program’s awareness of the changing linguistic and sociocultural landscape not only in Maine, but also in the United States in general.” It is powerful to create a space were students can get excited about text in a new way. We hear feedback from teachers that reinforces the idea that for many students PLAY has opened a door for them. A 4th grade teacher shared with us, “This student struggles to remember letters, sight words, and other information. With the PLAY program, he could remember EVERY word and act out the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I know now how to teach letters, sound, math, sight vocabulary, etc. To this student!”

We are continually grateful to be able to bring theater to elementary school students through this program. Witnessing students get excited about literature, see professional actors fearlessly use their bodies, voices, and imaginations, and explore their own actor tools during the workshop is a joyful experience.

Interested in learning more about this program? Email education@portlandstage.org or call 207-774-1043 ext. 104

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In Today’s News

August 21, 2017

Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist

Tom Luther, one of our new Teaching Artist Leaders with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) made the news today. Tom is a musician and teaches piano and digital/computer music. He works at the Midcoast Music Academy in Rockland.

He has created a plan for his MALI work called Standards without Standards. How Teaching Artists Can Create a Flexible Learning Template. Tom spent three days with other teaching artists and PK12 arts educators at the MALI Summer Institute at Thomas College earlier this month. His application for Teaching Artist Leader included: “I’ve found teaching to be an intensely creative act, as well as a tremendous tool for personal growth, both for myself and my students. Teaching has helped me become a better listener and observer.”

You can read the entire article from the Village Soup by CLICKING HERE.

Tom’s bio

Tom Luther is an improvising composer, pianist, and media artist working in acoustic and electronic environments. He has performed throughout the state of Maine with his modern jazz group TLQ (Tom Luther Quintet), an ambient music trio called Algorithm, and as a soloist. Luther is also a media artist, working with video, live installations, and interactive objects. In his work, Luther applies traditional composition, improvisation, generative, and interactive techniques, drawing freely from his experiences in numerous musical forms. The messages and stories are universal, and genre is simply a cultural idiom appropriate to a certain group at a certain time. Luther explores these notions through adapting techniques from different genres to create hybrid works that straddle the worlds of jazz, classical, electronic, and ambient music, bending genre and blurring the boundaries that define them. He has released two albums of his music with the TLQ, “Everything Is Blue” (2012) and “Necessity(2015). His interactive installation “Spine” premiered at Waterfall Arts in 2015, and he has shown two multi-media works as the Kelpie Gallery’s annual “Wet Paint on the Weskeag” fundraiser. Luther was a featured solo performer at “Jazz on a Summer’s Eve” at the Camden Opera House, and performs regularly with TLQ and as a sideman with the Mike Whitehead Group. He is currently working on a new ambient/downtempo trio, and an interactive floor puzzle that creates music. Luther is a graduate of the Hartt School of Music, and studied privately with pianist and composer Anthony Davis.

 

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Americans for the Arts

June 20, 2017

Annual convention

Frank Stella – Hess Collection

I traveled to California last week for the Americans for the Arts (AFTA) Arts Education Advisory Council meeting and the national conference. It was an exciting first trip for me to San Francisco. I was impressed with the city for many reasons. There is so much to see and do, much of it in walking distance. I arrived a couple days early to visit with a friend, a retired art teacher, who I had met during our trip to Japan in 2000 with the Fulbright program. It was great to catch up with her while visiting shops in China Town (the largest out of Asia), breathing in the smells of Little Italy, eating fish tacos in the waterfront area, sampling chocolate at Ghirardelli’s chocolate shop, and riding on the famous San Francisco trolley. We also visited the amazing Hess Collection of art in Napa Valley.

Downtown San Francisco

During the council meeting we were briefed on the advocacy work of AFTA and provided feedback on the priority education issues for AFTA. At the top of the list is programming on equity, diversity and inclusion. When we consider these topics they are very different for our rural state of Maine as compared to other parts of the country. I’m glad to be at the table sharing Maine’s ideas. AFTA is doing an amazing job of reaching out across the nation and providing face to face information as well as online resources.

The Arts Education Council walked to a school in the original downtown filled with amazing buildings that house the opera, symphony, theater, and city hall. The school was built in the 1800’s and will be the future site of an arts focused school. It is a beautiful old facility owned by the San Francisco Public Schools. We met with an energized veteran educator who is leading the work.

Chinatown

We spent some time with the other AFTA advisory panels and networks including Local Arts, Emerging Leaders, Private Sector, Public Art, and State Arts Action networks to work on AFTAs Strategic Plan. Interesting people from many organizations, large and small – all committed to the arts.

The conference was full of opportunities to learn and network. I was seeking information on Teaching Artist and community arts education programs so anything and anyone that was speaking that language, I reached out to. I attended a session called “The History of Arts-Cased Community Development” which provided a picture through the people – all giants – and their stories. The session was led by Maryo Ewell who has written a book that tells the story as well.

Bryan Stevenson

The highlight of the conference were two plenary sessions. The opening session keynote was provided by Bryan Stevenson, the founder and executive director of Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Mr. Stevenson is a lawyer who is committed to fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. He has been presented many awards for his work. He was an incredibly engaging speaker and emotionally moved the over 1000 audience members. Bryan’s TED Talk provides a picture of the clarity this man has on the topic of injustice.

Nancy Pelosi with Bob Lynch

The second session was with House Democratic Leader, US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. She and Bob Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, had a conversation/question and answer period on the place for the arts in America at this time. She firmly believes that the arts provide the movement for what is right in our country. She is funny, articulate, and a very good story teller.

I returned to Maine from the long and energy filled focused arts days and nights with wonderful memories and a head full of new ideas to follow up with. When I think of San Francisco the image that I will remember clearly is a walk onto the Golden Gate Bridge with the light at the end of the day. I was fortunate to share the walk, filled with laughter and conversation, with colleagues from The Pablove Foundation in California, the Turnaround Arts program from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and from the High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia. I was humbled by these amazing people doing thoughtful arts education work, impacting thousands.

Golden Gate Bridge with colleagues from across the country.

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