Posts Tagged ‘usm’


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.


Assessment Literacy Conference

March 30, 2018

University of Southern Maine 

#Assessment Literacy Conference: High-impact Teaching Strategies, Quality Summative Evidence, and Grading Practices

Presented by the Southern Maine Partnership – School of Education and Human Development

May 7-8, 2018

8:30 – 3:30, Abromson Hall, USM, Portland


The purpose of this year’s two-day conference is to strengthen the balance of our classroom assessment and assessment systems to support student growth in a standards-based education system. The conference will provide multiple workshops on high-impact teaching strategies that promote learning in the classroom, high-quality summative evidence of progress and proficiency, and high-quality grading practices that accurately measure learning while nurturing growth mindset.

Two major invited presenters will address a balanced approach to assessment. There will be keynote presentations and workshops by Ken O’Connor, author of How to Grading for Learning and A Repair Kit for Grading: 15 Fixes for Broken Grades and Jan Chappuis, author of Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning and Classroom Assessment for Student Learning.

Presenters from Maine school districts and organizations will focus on high-impact strategies; assessment for learning and leading; school district implementation of assessment for learning modules; effective scoring, reporting, and communicating student learning; teacher evaluation; and STEAMS.

Cost: $225 for full conference, including materials, lunches, and snacks; $125 for 1 day; $175/person for full conference for teams of 5+.



Assessment for Learning and Leading

March 16, 2017

Southern Maine Partnership/USM

The 2nd Assessment for Learning & Leading two-day conference on May 3rd-4th in beautiful Portland, ME on the USM campus. This conference is provided by the Southern Maine Partnership and USMs Educational Leadership Program.

This conference will provide opportunities to engage with internationally acclaimed classroom assessment experts, Jan Chappuis and Rick Stiggins (in person), USM faculty, and a host of educational practitioners on high-impact strategies of assessment for learning.

Guest presenters/administrators from Ashland Middle School (Oregon) Katherine Holden and Steve Retzlaff will join us and focus on proficiency-based assessment rubrics and systems thinking.

Dr. Holly Couturier, Assistant Executive Director of the Maine Principals’ Association, will share her leadership and assessment expertise.

Another area of focus will be data literacy with interim benchmark assessments like the MAP assessment from the NWEA and the Lucy Calkins assessment program. Tim Neville will represent the NWEA and Kellie Smith will present on the reading and writing literacy connections to assessment/data.

Teacher leaders and staff from the Maine Research in STEM Education Center will join us to present their assessment literacy leadership/study group model as well as sound assessments and scoring guides created around NGSS practices.

Leaders from schools and districts will discuss strategies for successful teacher and administrator leadership in professional development. Another feature will be the implementation of assessment for learning strategies with regional partnerships like Southern Maine Partnership, Penobscot River Educational Partnership, Washington County Leaders Consortium, Midcoast Regional Professional Development Center, and Northwoods Partnership.

Who Should Attend: The primary audience will be preK-12 educators and leaders;  however, we encourage higher education faculty, legislators, educational researchers, school board members, and other policy makers to also attend.

Cost: $225 fee for full access to 2-day conference, including all keynotes, sessions, materials, lunch, and refreshments ($125 for one-day only)

Register Now:


Visionary Box

February 8, 2017

Sculpturing at LRHS

clay-2Students of Lake Region High School recently partnered with the sculpture department of USM in a collaboration of critiquing student sculptures. LRHS students of Clay I class taught by Ms. Carmel Collins, were assigned to design and construct a ‘Visionary Box.’ The ‘Visionary Box’ was to be a vessel that contained 3 objects which the students felt best represented the values, traditions and beliefs of society at the present time. The outside of the box was to be designed and sculptured in ways that communicated the meaning of the objects held within the box.

Once the boxes were complete they were delivered to Professor Michael Shaughnessy head of the sculpture department USM. Students under the tutorage of Mr. Shaughnessy critiqued and evaluated the student’s work paying particular attention to the craftsmanship, creativity and communicativeness of the overall box.

At a later date Professor Shaughnessy and one of his students Riley Schwartz visited the students of LRHS and shared their critiques. Each student received rich detailed feedback of their work whilst highlighting clay-1their creative journey to the finished product. It was a wonderful opportunity for students of LRHS to step out of the classroom with their art work to reach an authentic audience and engage in a rewarding arts dialogue. We are thankful to Professor Shaughnessy and his students for giving their time freely and willingly in developing what we hope to be a continued arts partnership with the USM.

Professor Shaughnessy in response to the collaboration commented, “USM students very much enjoyed discussing the work of the Intro to Clay Students. It was a rich experience both ways and we look forward to further projects with the students of Lakes Region High School.”


In Today’s News

February 3, 2017

MAEA Portals show

Read about the art teachers exhibit at USM Gorham sponsored by the MAEA. CLICK HERE.



In Today’s News

December 10, 2016

USM music

The University of Southern Maine got an early Christmas present Friday – a $600,000 surprise donation to the university’s School of Music.

A representative of the Falmouth-based Bob Crewe Foundation showed up Friday night at the President’s Scholarship Gala, at the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel, and sprung the donation on the 300 guests there, according to a news release Monday from USM.

Read the entire story from the Portland Press Herald by CLICKING HERE.


MALI Critical Feedback

August 11, 2015

A favorite part


Teacher Leaders working on their posters creating their action plans and logic models for sharing

The Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) continues to use a Critical Friends model to provide feedback to each other as the work progresses. This years new Teacher Leaders created Action Plans that start with Essential Questions. For example, Why and how should we assess students in instrumental ensembles? The questions vary depending on what each teacher leader is learning and needing in their classroom. The template that is used helps the teachers formulate their ideas so they can present a workshop on the topic for other visual or performing arts teachers during the 2015-16 school year.

Along with the question(s), the template includes the following categories:

  • Rationale
  • Workshop Objective
  • Workshop Description
  • Timeline 1-6 months out
  • Resources Needed
  • Student Impact

You can imagine once the above are fleshed out, a plan develops for the workshop format. This is not to say that the plan is simple. In fact, some teachers really struggle to bring the plan together. It is amazing to watch the progress.

The returning Teacher Leaders used a different format this year – new to MALI as well. Teachers started with a Problem and a Goal.

From there they developed the following:

  • Inputs
  • Activities
  • Outputs
  • Outcomes
  • Student Impact
  • Rationale

A Logic Model poster with comments on stickies

The MALI team that went to Washington, D.C. for the Teach to Lead Summit in July learned about the Logic Model template and decided hands-down that it was the way to proceed with the returning Teacher Leaders.

On the third day of the summer institute held at USM, Portland on August 3-5 all the Teacher Leaders shared their ideas in small groups with critical friends and received feedback that they could immediately apply and make any of the changes.

The frosting on the cake comes during the afternoon when teachers participated in a gallery walk reviewing the plans of each teacher. It was silent for 90 minutes while each Teacher Leader provides thoughtful feedback on stickies that the teachers use to make further changes. Both groups produced an amazing amount of high quality work during the 3-day institute.

In addition, the Critical Friend assigned to the MALI team while in DC for the Summit joined us electronically to provide feedback to Teacher Leader and music educator from Bonny Eagle High School, Jake Sturtevant. It was great to watch the process in action.


Jacob Bruno from Corwin, MALIs Critical Friend, providing feedback to Jake Sturtevant

On August 20 the MALI will have a Critical Friends Day to provide feedback for the last time before they take their workshops and plans “on the road”.

Just a reminder that on August 3, 2015, MAAI, the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative, announced its new name, MALI, the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative. You can read about it at Please let me know if you have any questions.

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