Courses coming to Aroostook County!

The New England Institute for Teacher Education is proud to be bringing graduate level courses to Presque Isle this summer, including Assessment Practices in the K-12 Visual Art Classroom and Integrating the Common Core Standards into the Classroom (K-12). It’s not too late to register!! These courses are both being held from Monday, July 9th through Thursday, July 12.

Catherine Ring will be teaching the visual art course. Catherine is on the Leadership Team with the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative. Stephen York and Dr. Jennifer Page will be teaching the Common Core Standards course.

Are you prepared to integrate the Common Core Standards into your classroom? Are you interested in taking your assessment practices to a deeper level? Working with a cohort of colleagues who share best practices and resources is stimulating and fun.  Deep discussions around how to assess, benchmark, and align to standards are helping to improve learning in the classroom.  Graduate courses made available in other parts of the state have met with great success.  Join Catherine, Stephen, and Jennifer in Presque Isle this month! Please register with the New England Institute to join us.

Education Commissioner Interview

Steve Bowen, Maine Education Commissioner

Join Rob Westerberg and Catherine Ring on Wednesday, May 23rd from 3:30-4:30 pm for their final webinar, “Back to the Future: Arts Teachers Lead the Way”. They will be culminating this series of webinars on Arts Assessment, a component of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s Phase I, with an interview with DOE Commissioner Steve Bowen.

Since LD 1422 (which will impact Maine’s high school graduation requirements) is about to become law, and Maine has adopted a Strategic Plan “Evolving Education: Maine’s Plan for Putting Learners First” to improve teaching and learning across the state, Rob and Catherine will ask the Commissioner to talk about the key components of the Plan, and about the impact it will have on arts educators in particular. Argy Nestor will also be joining the discussion.

“We think you will find that many of the components of Maine’s Strategic Plan are already underway with arts educators across the State,” said Catherine. “In fact, the goals the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative has established dovetail beautifully with the State’s plan, and the Initiative’s goals are designed by arts educators themselves.”

Come and find out what the Strategic Plan is all about, and you’ll be able to connect the dots to the many accomplishments in the past year by the teacher leaders in the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative.  This model is being looked at carefully, and replicated by other content area efforts. You will also learn what’s in store for Phase II of the Initiative, as plans have begun, in earnest.  Arts teachers are, indeed, leading the way.

To join the meeting:


Summer Course Listings!



Please check out our new Summer Course Listings. You will find new courses, new locations and new faculty, along with some of your favorites.  And, you may be seeing our new Ad in various publications.  Here’s a sneak preview.






Thanks to educator Jean Gorman and faculty instructor, Rob Westerberg for use of their photos!

New Course on The Common Core

Stephen York, Academic Dean

Dr. Jennifer Page



The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are coming to Maine and into your classroom but do you feel prepared to actually implement them?  Even though the CCSS are intended to be a progression of learning for our students, teachers are largely left to bridge the gap between our current standards and the CCSS on their own.

The goal of this class is to help you understand how the Common Core compares to our current State standards and help you integrate the Common Core into your existing lessons.  We will explore the “why”, “what”, and “how” of the CCSS to see what it can really look like in a classroom setting.  We will help you examine how your current assessments and curriculum/instructional materials align with the expectations from the CCSS. The course will be project based and emphasis will be placed on helping you adapt your current materials to fit the CCSS guidelines so you can effectively implement the Common Core in your classroom.

Dr. Jennifer Page and Stephen York, Academic Dean, will be team-teaching this course in Aroostook County in July and the course will be offered in other places around Maine.  For information on the course, or to register, click here.

Encountering Children’s Literature through the Arts

Mandy Rogers presenting her 3rd Graders' Biography Project

Do You have a Quality Library in your Classroom?


Megan Skilling Presents Readers' Theater in the First Grade!

Elementary teachers, librarians and music teacher create art to teach literacy!

In Their Own Words: Teachers Describe our Recent Class

Teachers Learn about Assessment Practices in the Visual Arts

Visual Art Teachers: Christine Del Rossi, Brian McPherson, and Kathleen Hartley


Visual Art Teachers from Medomak Middle School, Mt. Ararat Middle School, Bangor High, Sumner Memorial High, Woodside Elementary, and Falmouth High School convened for an intensive weekend course on Assessment last weekend.  We had rich discussions about why high quality assessment practices improve teaching and learning.  Looking at student art work, sharing resources, and eating together were all important parts of the course.  Did I say “eating” together?  Yes – we had a communal dinner on Friday night and lunch on Saturday.  What do you think this eclectic group of educators did during their time to relax?  They talked.  Non-stop.  About Art, Education, Kids and the best ways to teach them.  Oh.  And we ate great food, too!

Samantha Davis, Libbie Winslow and Nancy Durst

You might think this is an unusual bunch of passionate teachers.  And they are definitely passionate!  But unusual?  Not really.  We’ve found that most educators who take our courses are passionate about what they do, and that carries over into their extended lives.  Hence, the collaboration that ensues in between course sessions (there are only two weekends that we meet in person) happens on a regular basis.  Technology can be wonderful for helping teachers in geographically distant places in Maine connect with each other.  Interactive wikis make it easy to communicate and to share resources with each other!  Sharing best practices, strategies, ideas and resources is easier than ever, and teachers are very generous in doing so, and in encouraging each other.  Now those ingredients make a great recipe for superb teaching and learning.  So how do you assess that?  You don’t.  It’s priceless.


We Did It!

Rob Westerberg and Catherine Ring

Yesterday we met with 16 art, music, dance and theater teacher leaders throughout Maine to plan Phase II of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative.  Lots of creative ideas for ways to improve teaching and learning in the arts filled the day.  This is critical work, because the arts teach vital 21st century skills and quality assessment helps both teachers and students to improve learning.  You can read more about this exciting project on the Maine DOE’s blog, written by Visual and Performing Arts Specialist, Argy Nestor.

Maine Arts Education Post



Here are some other photos of the day!

Music Educator Jake Sturtevant and Art Educator Jeff Orth

Dr. Jeff Beaudry, USM

Art Educators Leah Olson and Jeff Orth

Catherine Ring and Dance Educator, Mary Ellen Schaper

Art Educators Lisa Marin and Charlie Johnson

Children’s Literature and Art Assessment Courses A Hit!


Maggie Soule, Linda McVety, Barbara Stalnaker, Megan Skilling, Glenna Kimball and Mandy Rogers

A group of teachers from the Portland area met recently in the first session of Teaching Children’s Literature through the Arts course.  What a wonderful group!  This diverse group included two librarians, three elementary classroom teachers, and a music teacher, so there was plenty of  interest in both the arts and children’s literature.  This course gives an in depth overview of genre, multicultural books for children, and best of all, includes hands-on ways to encounter children’s literature through multiple art forms.  Music, art, movement, drama, pantomime, poetry and storytelling are just some of the ways to engage children and improve learning.  Teachers came from York, Otisfield, Windham, Auburn, Portland and Sanford to participate.  We discussed so many ways of integrating the arts to boost student engagement in literacy and shared some fabulous resources and ideas.


Art educators, Sue Beaulier and Jacqualine McTigue, from Ashland and Glenburn, Maine

In Bangor, a group of visual art educators met to begin a course in Refining Arts Assessment in the Visual Art Classroom.  This course was designed to bring together professionals who really do not have a lot of time to collaborate with each other; often they are the only arts educators in their building.  So, looking at student art work, sharing how to assess student work according to standards, and some very lively discussions were the name of the game.  Many wonderful initiatives and ideas were shared.  We’re looking forward to more rich dialogue, and exciting discoveries of things we can do to improve student learning in Visual Art classrooms around Maine!



Katy Helman, of Deer Isle-Stoningon and other art teachers partake in an animated discussion of student work

Is this a 2, a 3, or a 4?  How do we know our students are learning concepts and skills?  Are we doing standards-based instruction?  How do you measure creativity?  How does an art teacher balance the need to teach art skills and techniques and still encourage student ownership and creativity?   These are just some of the questions we tackled in the recent class in Bangor.  If you missed that opportunity, another course at Falmouth High School is happening on March 9, 10 and May 4 and 5.  There are still some openings in that class, though they are filling up fast!  Be sure to save a spot by Registering for the course:  Refining Arts Education in the Visual Art Classroom K-12 at Falmouth High School.



Exciting Courses Underway

I am pleased to say that the Arts Assessment in the Music Classroom course has taken off at York High School.  Reports are that participants dove right in with some profound discussions about how we, as educators, tackle the not so easily defined task of assessing students performance in music.  How does one assess individuals in an ensemble?  How does one assess whether a piece has “spirit”?  How do we involve students in self-assessment?  How do we create a safe culture in our classroom so that formative assessment is a part of the every day work of teaching and learning?  There is a real hunger out there in the teaching world for an opportunity to get together with colleagues to discuss these and other essential questions, and to share resources with each other.  This is exactly what happened at York High School last Friday and Saturday and opportunities are being offered elsewhere in Maine through the New England Institute for Teacher Education.

Ashley Smith and Drew Albert listen in during Rob's presentation


Rob Westerberg, music educator at York High School, and planning team member of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative, had participants thinking deeply and reflecting on the best strategies for engaging students and improving their teaching and learning.  Shared assessment practices and resources were part of the fare.  Each teacher will develop their own action plan, fitting in with their own and their individual school’s needs.  They will go back to their classrooms, try new ideas, journal, read, share, and come back for a second session and report out what they’ve learned.  How exciting!

If you are a music teacher, and you missed this opportunity, there is another class being held in Augusta on February 10 , 11 and May 11, 12. The course meets in two sessions of Friday nights (4-8pm) and Saturdays (8-4pm).  Intersession work is done online via email with the instructor, and a final presentation and summative paper is expected. It is not too late to sign up for this course.  Jake Sturtevant, music educator at Bonny Eagle High School, and Teacher Leader in the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative, will be teaching this course.

And for Visual Art Educators interested in Assessment courses, there are several opportunities right around the corner:

Bangor – Jan. 27, 28 and April 27, 28

Falmouth – March 9, 10 and May 4, 5

Courses are offered at a specially reduced cost of $750 for three graduate credits through our partnership with Endicott College.  So don’t pass up this opportunity – Register now, and be a part of what’s happening in the arts and education in Maine!


It’s Elementary, My Dear

You are invited to join Rob Westerberg (Choral Director at York High School) and me and our Guests on our webinar on Wednesday, January 4 at 3:30 pm.  The topic promises to inspire a lively exchange:  “An Elementary Discussion: How in the World Can I Possibly Do This?
 Addressing the Unique Needs of Elementary Arts Educators”.  This will be the fourth of five webinars on arts assessment, as part of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative.

The discussion will survey participants about the challenges of doing arts assessments at the elementary level.  After all, how can anyone expect that teachers will be able to teach and assess student work when they see 400 students for 40 minutes per week? Amazingly, arts educators are doing it and finding ways that make a difference for kids. Rob and I will facilitate a discussion with our guests, Alice Sullivan (music educator), Shannon Campbell (visual art educator) and Barb Packales (music educator), on the unique challenges to teaching and assessing student work in elementary school, the advantages of assessing the work, and ways to implement quick, do-able and proven strategies that help improve student learning in the arts.

Argy Nestor, Visual and Performing Arts Specialist at the Maine DOE, will also participate and provide her perspective on arts assessment and how to move forward. Lots of resources will be shared.  There will also be information on graduate level courses (provided by the New England Institute for Teacher Education) where participants can take their knowledge and practice of arts assessment to a new level.

To join the meeting, go online to (sign in as “guest”). Conference Number: 1-866-910-4857, Passcode: 140893  Hope to see you there!!

—   Catherine