Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership - Recaps Successful Summer Institute

  • August 25, 2021

Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership - Recaps Successful Summer Institute 

For three days on the shores of Lake Cobbosseecontee, more than 30 visual and performing – both classroom teachers and teaching artists – sat next to each other, developing in-depth and individual growth workplans for the coming year. 

Pilgrim Lodge was the site of the MAEPL (Maine Arts Education Partners in Leadership) annual Summer Institute, an education project of the Maine Arts Commission. 

Namory Keita, a drummer originally from Guinea, mapped out ways to link more with schools as an ambassador of Guinean traditions.  Jake Sturtevant, Music Director at Falmouth High School, focused on helping his students embrace failure as a part of the creative process, going against the culture of achievement.   Several other music teachers outlined specific ways to create more equity in their curricula.  Ashley Pillsbury, art teacher at Warsaw Middle School, envisioned more student voice and choice through new digital drawing tools.  Reba Askari, Theatre Director at the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, made plans to build more community connections.  

For over ten years now, networking and connecting has been a key element of MAEPL. While visual and performing arts teachers often feel isolated within their schools, MAEPL encourages intersecting disciplines and geography.  “Teachers teaching teachers” is the slogan we use at the Summer Institute. 

We spent our days at Pilgrim Lodge creating individualized plans, and in the evenings we welcomed guest presentations.  On the second night Jennifer Pictou, Mi'kmaq historian and educator shared a workshop on contextualizing Wabanaki stories. She was joined by Starr Kelly, Curator of Education at the Abbe Museum to discuss their new longterm exhibition: “Stitching Ourselves Together: Mi’kmaq Porcupine Quillwork.”  The exhibit is an unprecedented and moving collaboration for the museum and a Wabanaki community; for instance, the Abbe Museum staff transported exquisite antique quillwork pieces in their collection to spend a day with their original Mi’kmaq home and people.

On the Institute’s final day, the Lodge porch walls and windows were covered with 30 big paper “Logic Models”, the step-by-step plans, for the culminating Gallery Walk.  Everyone grabbed a pen and a pad of stickies, and an intensely quiet feedback frenzy ensued as attendees posted comments on the draft workplans.  MAEPL folks will meet again several times in the following year to support each other on their progress and present outcomes publicly.  The MAEPL experience, which has helped over 120 teachers grow their leadership and their arts programming, is open to all Maine visual and performing arts teachers and teaching artists, and we welcome new recruits. 

-Martha Piscuskas

Director of Arts Education


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Martha Piscuskas

193 State Street
SHS 25
Augusta  ME  04333