dream come true

R – In the Summer of 2010, Argy Nestor, then the Visual and Performing Arts Specialist at the Maine Department of Education, called me up and asked me if I would be willing to take a week in August to attend an Arts Assessment Institute with her and colleague Catherine Ring in Plymouth, New Hampshire. I had the good sense to Rob, Argy, Catherinesay “yes”. What transpired there changed my life. I found the “hook” I had been spending my career looking for: utilizing student academic achievement as a vehicle to drive my own instruction and curriculum. At the time, “assessment” in the arts was still a dirty word. On the drive home to Maine, the three of us – with our brains on fire – decided to tackle this at a state level, which in turn a Summer later formally  became the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative. Our mission was very straight forward: To create an environment in Maine where quality assessment in arts education is an integral part of the work all arts educators do to deepen student learning in the arts. And the non-negotiable was that it would be a “bottom up” initiative: centered around deep dialogue, peer mentoring, sharing ideas and best practices, all based on research as well as practical application.

We set in motion a plan that had many different layers and parts to it, providing professional development for arts educators in Maine. But we never believed it would take on a life of it’s own. We honestly believed that successful execution of our weird little idea would be a three year plan at most. But all three of us did share a mutual pipe dream: wouldn’t it be incredible if some day we were to host a New England wide Summit on Arts Education? And now as we embark on our 5th year…

… it’s happening! 🙂

The New England Summit on Arts Education – July 29, 30, 31, August 1, 2014, University of Southern Maine, Portland

The New England Summit on Arts Education will provide an outstanding collaborative opportunity for educators to dig deep into teaching, learning, and assessment in arts education including student-centered classrooms and proficiency. Please join educators from Maine and beyond for this fabulous three-day professional development opportunity.

Maine has a commitment to offer a quality professional development opportunity that is customized to meet your educational needs and goals. Consequently, participants will choose a strand to be working in during the Summit.

MAAI has provided professional development during the last three summers to Maine arts educators who wish to take on a leadership role and create a workshop to present to arts teachers across the state. The initiative has been building capacity by training arts educators on the “what” and “how” of arts assessment and finding the balance of formative and summative assessment, so they can provide the leadership in Maine through professional development opportunities.


During the next phase of the MAAI the goals will expand in response to teacher feedback and is offering a three or four-day summit. The summit is designed to meet the needs of teachers and the workshops will be on such important topics as proficiency, standards-based, student-centered, leadership, advocacy, creativity, 21st century skills and much more.

There will be multiple opportunities for networking as we broaden our knowledge in arts education. The Summit is a perfect opportunity for those who want to learn the core principles or advance further into the Arts Assessment field.

Participants will be able to choose one of three strands based on experience:

Strand # 1 – Developing Teacher Leader
This strand is designed primarily for teachers (teaching artists or arts educators) who have not already been involved in the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative and would like more of a foundation in arts assessment, and connections with teaching and learning.This strand is also for teachers in Maine who would like to become a Teacher Leader for the MAAI. Attendance at all four days is required to become a Teacher Leader.Strand 1 is open to any participant (from Maine or beyond).
Strand #2 – Arts Assessment Team
This strand is designed for attendees to work together as a team during the Summit. These teams will develop a collaborative arts education plan to be implemented when returning to school/district. Consider possibilities when forming your team; the work accomplished during the Summit could be similar to Strand 1 or 3 but will be customized to the team’s needs and unique ideas. This strand is not only open to PreK-12 district Visual and Performing Arts teachers and classroom teachers, but also to administrators, teaching artists, community cultural organizations or institute members, parents, and/or school board members.Strand 2 is open to any team (from Maine and other states, at least two participants per team).
Strand #3 – Arts Assessment in Practice Strand
This strand is designed for the individual who is ready to dig deeper into arts assessment, and connections with teaching and learning. Strand 3 will provide the opportunity to turn collective knowledge and understandings into important collaborative work on benchmarking, proficiency, and resource development.Strand 3 is open to anyone returning as a Teacher Leader, graduates of arts assessment courses, and anyone who feels they are ready to dig deeper into arts assessment.

Optional Day 4 – August 1 – TEACHER LEADERS
This day is offered for teachers from Strand 1 who would like to take an active role in phase 4 of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative as a teacher leader. The professional development offered on day 4 will help prepare teachers for taking on leadership roles including leading workshops at the regional and statewide level. There is an application process to become a teacher leader that will be available in the near future.
Comments from Maine Arts Assessment Summer Institute participants

“The relationships I have developed have positively changed my life and the ripple will go on for years to come! I loved the activity about a collaborative community and glancing upon that poster throughout the time period; I will use that for my own classroom.”

“Thanks for all the hard work that was put into the planning and developing of this year’s institute. I love what we do. I am so pleased to be a part of this.”

“Thank you for setting up this opportunity for me to really think about how I teach, and how I can expand my practice so my students can have a deeper understanding and appreciation for what they learn in the art program.”

“There are not enough words to describe how appreciative I am of this initiative. It has made me a better teacher, and has made a difference to my students’ art education.”


Cost: $299 ~ Earlybird special: register by May 30 for a $25 discount

Additional savings: register as part of a team (at least 2 people) for a $25 discount

With both of these discounts the total cost per person is $248

CEUs are available through the University of Southern Maine. Contact hours are available. Three Graduate credits (required for all teachers in Maine to be re-certified) is ALSO available(!) through the New England Institute for Teacher Education at a discounted rate of $950. This is a separate cost from Summit registration. Please click HERE to register for the graduate credit.

This really is a dream come true… three days of professional development for arts educators (music, visual art, dance, drama) BY arts educators, making connections with tons of others who are doing the good work in the trenches just like you, looking for wonderful ways to better learning for students in the arts. Not only is there no financial gain in it for any of us, we are just budgeting for the logistical and physical essentials of running an event such as this! We simply believe in the power of an opportunity such as this, and there is a small army of a couple of dozen of us now working behind the scenes to make it happen! Please come and join us for this event and bring a colleague or two… or three or four… professional development that has been years in the offing, and planned completely with you in mind!!!

For more info, please e-mail me (Rob Westerberg) at mllama4@maine.rr.com

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1 Response to dream come true

  1. Pingback: dream come true | Goober Music Teachers | Studio News

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