How “Time Flies” at Bangor High School’s Visual and Performing Arts Academy

As part of Bangor educator Eric Hutchins’ Graphic Design class, the students learn how art is used in everyday life, especially how it plays an such a big role in the commercial world today.

Serving as the second class for students focusing on a graphic art pathway that is frequently taken by students in the Visual and Performing Arts Academy (VPA) program at Bangor High School, the students focus on how to use computer software to create interesting works of art. As a start they learn about the importance of text in graphic art, how it can be used, and why just choosing any font is not the right thing to do.

“The images you see are examples of their first text project in the class where students chose statements that are considered ‘cliche’ and then they recreate them visually only using text,” explains Hutchins.

Over the course of the semester students recreate a package for a product. They measure the packaging, create a template, and then create the imagery and designs for the product. They also create business cards, book jackets, album covers, board game designs and movie posters over the course of the class.

“This is a unique class because it teaches students the importance of art in our society, and that a graphic designer’s artwork is everywhere,” added Hutchins.

Students that take the graphic arts pathway at Bangor High School’s VPA Academy traditionally take photography, digital art, graphic design and then their senior year take Advanced Placement 2D Design and submit a portfolio to be graded for college credit.

Information for this article was provided by the Bangor School Department as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. The Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign is an avenue for Maine schools to celebrate successes and share innovative ideas, practices, and models that can be adapted and easily implemented by other Maine schools. Stories are not an endorsement of specific materials, services, or practices and are not intended to promote learning programs that are of cost to students, families, or schools. To submit a story or an idea, email it to Rachel at 

MEDIA RELEASE: Nine Additional Maine Educators Join Maine Kids Rock Initiative for 2021-2022 School Year

The Maine Kids Rock Initiative, a statewide program that offers professional training to teachers as well as grants for instruments and equipment to schools with identified needs, enters its fifth year (2021-2022) with the addition of the following educators to its roster:

  • Lanissa Nadeau (Brewer Community School)
  • Neil James (Geiger Elementary/Lewiston Middle School)
  • Bridget Kazukiewicz (King Middle School, Portland)
  • Joshua Lund (Benton Elementary School)
  • Michelle Biddlecom (Winthrop Grade School)
  • Brittany Elwell (Carmel Elementary/Suzanne Smith Elementary/Caravel Middle Schools)
  • Thomas Stott (Beech Hill School, Otis)
  • Oren Robinson (Palermo Consolidated, Windsor Elementary Schools)
  • Nadine Baker (Rose M. Gaffney/Machias Memorial High School)

These teachers join the ranks of nearly 70 additional teachers across Maine who utilize the Modern Band approach to music education with nearly 1,500 students at all grade levels.

“My administrators and I are very excited to bring music into the 21st century for our students,” said Joshua Lund, general music educator. “At Benton Elementary, we are planning to integrate MKR into the general music class experience as well as starting new co-curricular ensembles. The training, resources, and equipment provided through Maine Kids Rock are sure to help transform what music can be for the students in my school!”

The Maine Kids Rock initiative continues as a partnership between the Maine Department of Education and the national non-profit organization Little Kids Rock.

“We’re thrilled to continue to grow Maine Kids Rock, bring more music education to Maine, and reach even more kids by using the music they know and love,” said Miranda Altman, Senior Director of Program Operations for Little Kids Rock. “We are incredibly grateful to the teachers of this initiative as we enter our fifth year. Welcome to the nine teachers that are newly joining this program!”

Throughout the year these teachers will receive free professional development opportunities, and their schools will receive a set of classroom “rock band”-style instruments for students to use as they explore music education through a modern music lens.  Learning opportunities for students go beyond just learning to play a guitar or drums; they also explore songwriting, the development of interpersonal skills, and boost self-confidence as performers.

For more information about the Maine Kids Rock Initiative through the Maine Department of Education, please contact Visual and Performing Arts Content Specialist Jason Anderson.

Bangor City Hall Student Art Show Goes Virtual

Bangor City Hall is home to four bulletin boards where art created in the Bangor School classrooms is displayed. With limited access to City Hall due to COVID-19 health and safety precautions, the district sought to provide a way to continue to share the great work that their students created by doing a video art show this year. The video allows the community to continue enjoying the student work virtually.

Information for this article was provided by Bangor School Department as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea email it to Rachel at

Bangor High School Celebrates Arts in Education Month

Recent changes to the State guidance that provide oversight into the practice of performing arts have allowed Bangle High School Students to return to activities that had been put on hold for the beginning of the school year.

Orchestra and band have started practicing with specialized safety precautions in place. Students use special masks that allow them to play instruments as well as bell covers.

South Portland Art Teacher Engages Remote Learners with Collaborative Mural Project

Margaret Burman is the Art Teacher for both the Dyer and Kaler Elementary Schools in South Portland School Department. An experienced educator, Mrs. Burman has been teaching art since 2004, with the past 8 years at Dyer and Kaler.

Pre-Pandemic, Mrs. Burman was teaching art to students in the two different elementary schools in-person using the framework of Teaching for Artistic Behavior, which develops their artistic practice by encouraging them to make choices about the media they want to use, the subject matter they want to express, and by developing their craft in many different kinds of art making. A few years back she created a video explaining her transition to the new teaching style and it is something she is really proud of because it drives her practice and the students have responded really well to it.

Through the current school year, South Portland School District has been in hybrid mode because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Mrs. Burman has been teaching her students remotely via asynchronous lessons and live virtual classes. To help manage this, she created a Google Slides Virtual Art room where students can access virtual versions of their studios, visit a book nook, and see lessons that have been assigned to them.

“It was devastating for me that I couldn’t be in our art rooms and creating this virtual space became a way of feeling like I had had some control over things,” recalls Burman.

During the switch to hybrid learning, Burman transitioned from using the art rooms located at both schools, which have been repurposed for other classes, to a small office at Dyer Elementary that she has dubbed the Tiny Art Room. This is where she hosts virtual meetings with students and records lessons.

“During our Google meets we go over the lesson/theme for the week, have art making time using their sketchbooks and materials from the art bags that all K-5 students in South Portland were given, and play drawing games like Random Dry Draw, adapted from a dry erase board drawing game that we used to play in the art room.”

With no windows in the Tiny Art Room which was originally surround in blue walls, Burman decided to get permission from the custodial staff and principal to paint them.

“Then I decided that instead of me just painting what I wanted on the walls, I would incorporate the ideas of my students from our Google meets,” explained Burman. Since October she has engaged students to help create the collaborative mural, a project that all of the students in all of her classes, grades K-5 at both Dyer and Kaler, get to participate in.

“I choose one student randomly at the end of every Google meet to direct me in what to paint for the mural,” She explains. “They are the directors; I am just the brush!”

At this point over 250 students have contributed their ideas to the mural, which will not be finished until every single one of her remote students has added their idea. Mrs. Burman has collected feedback from the students as they discuss what they would like to do with the image of this mural when it is finished.

“I think the mural lets everybody have a chance to make a mark on this artwork,” said one student.

“The mural is beautiful! I enjoyed making the squiggly thing. Looking forward to doing another one,” added another.

Some ideas on what to do with the mural when it is finished have been posters, magnets, postage stamps and selling products to raise money for a charity.

Despite not having art classes in-person this year, students have really benefited from doing their art classes remotely because it has given them the opportunity to practice being artists in their own homes and day care programs.

Having been practicing the artistic habits such as stretch & explore, develop craft, envision, express, reflect, observe, engage & persist, and understanding art worlds in the art room with Mrs. Burman for the last 4 years, her students were used to experimenting and exploring the materials and getting ideas and inspiration from the world around them. Doing the work remotely has provided the opportunity for their artistic behavior to spill over into their everyday lives outside of school and has helped foster artistic practice outside of school assignments.

Progress of Mrs. Burman’s Tiny Art Room mural can he found on her Instagram @DyerKalerArt using the hashtag #tinyartroomcollaborativemural.

Information for this article was provided by South Portland School District as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. To submit a story or an idea for the campaign, email it to Rachel at