Posts Tagged ‘teaching artists’


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


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



Who Are They? Portland Stage – Part 3

October 11, 2017


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 or call 207-774-1043 ext. 104


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.



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.


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.


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



Side X Side

December 11, 2016

Portland arts program

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-7-32-27-pmSide X Side is an educational nonprofit with a mission to promote engaged learning, critical thinking, problem solving and exploration while enhancing K-12 content curriculum through innovative, collaborative, creative, multi-disciplinary programming.

Side x Side puts curiosity & engagement back into learning through innovative educational programming that cultivates creativity and collaboration.

Company Overview
Side x Side was created to provide educators, college interns, and K-12 students with a distinctive, creative framework to facilitate interdisciplinary, engaged learning through a multi-dimentional, platform. Within our programming, we cultivate intergenerational partnerships and professional relationships while activating long term collaborations between educators, students, visiting experts, and artists.

General Information
Imagine a classroom buzzing with excited students learning from a marine biologist about oceans, plankton, and the life cycle of an osprey. Picture students conducting scientific research, then building an interactive, 3-d installation of a living ocean with the expertise of a local sculptor. Visualize meaningful collaborations between classroom teachers, teaching artists, professional experts, and university interns. Now envision an entire school “a buzz”, where students are animated, engaged in hands-on learning, skilled at critical thinking, and exploring and developing the competencies necessary to thrive in the 21st century. This is the vision of SideXSide!

• U. S. Department of Education Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant, 2014

• The Portland Education Foundation in partnership with Reiche Community School

• Donors Choose in conjunction with Mrs. Fox and the second grade team at Reiche Community School

• Portland Public Schools Envirologix STEM grant in conjunction with Mrs. Fox and the second grade team at Reiche Community School

Side x Side Professional Development

Side x Side’s Arts Institute develops comprehensive professional development programs for elementary school teachers. Through continuous professional development opportunities, Side x Side empowers teachers and cultivates a meaningful understanding of the impact of arts integration and its application in the classroom.

Side x Side’s professional development programs are designed with both art and classroom teachers to include relevant pedagogy, content and standards. This collaboration demonstrates how well-designed arts projects can form the basis of an interdisciplinary instructional approach that incorporates contemporary learning standards into all academic subject areas.

Side x Side’s professional development strives to:

Provide classroom teachers instruction in and exposure to various art forms applicable to their teaching and curriculum design in order to meet the needs of all students.
Help redefine how students access, engage with and demonstrate their knowledge of the curriculum.
Support relationships that help foster sustainable community-based education practices through the placement of teaching artists and content experts in k-12 classrooms.
Side x Side offered a Summer Arts Institute in June 2015, its first professional development conference for elementary school teachers and also held school-specific workshops in October last year.

For more information contact: or visit the “For Teachers” page. Side X Side is located at 636 Congress St., Portland.

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