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The Strategy: Develop a Unified Arts Team
Arundel is a small community in Maine with agricultural roots but with no large institutions, businesses, or even a downtown center. A model of small-town ingenuity, the Mildred L. Day School has often served as the hub for imaginative learning in the community, leading the way through its Unified Arts Team that collaborates to plan, put on events, and fund-raise. The team started a number of years ago with only a small, informal group of teachers from several disciplines (art, music, kindergarten, and physical education), all of whom were dedicated to student-centered education and fostering innovative teaching and learning practices. From small beginnings came big ideas and exciting programs that spread to the whole school.

The team includes:
arts teachers
physical education teacher
technology teacher
librarian
classroom teachers
community volunteers and collaborating organizations.

The team meets weekly for:
grant writing and donor searches
developing imaginative learning programs and activities across grades, such as     Geocaching for 5th grade physical education
discussing curricular ideas
planning various festivals and events that engage the whole school and community.

A sample of last year's activities includes:
fifth grade musicians perform for younger grades
alumni concert given by district graduates who also perform in colleges, community     bands, and orchestras in the surrounding area
field trips to Heartwood School of Art in Kennebunk for hands-on workshops
exhibit of student artwork at Barn Gallery in Ogunquit
the Annual Celebration of Learning to showcase collaborative learning projects to peers,     teachers, family, and community.

Quotes:

“I’ve made it my business to re-think physical education. Yes, we still play team sports, but it’s my job to find challenging activities that will get every last student up and moving: snowshoeing, dancing, geocaching – whatever will make them active for the rest of their lives.” −Physical education teacher

My kids went to this school, so first I became involved as a dad, then as a school volunteer. They’re long grown, but I still come back to work here. Now I work at The Trolley Museum. I make it my business to come up with projects that will give the next generation of kids what my own got at Mildred Day Elementary--like refurbishing whole trolley cars from the body to the upholstery.” – A father, school and community volunteer

To Think About:
Arundel recently became part of a consolidated district, RSU 21. The consolidation brought with it certain advantages, such a partnership with Heartwood School of Art for workshops in a variety of arts (jewelry-making, monotype printmaking, photography, pottery), as well as access to grant funds from a local education foundation for innovative projects. But on the other hand, some teaching positions in the arts and other areas were reduced and teachers were reassigned to cover classes in more than one school. How does a unified arts team keep working together in challenging times? How can schools maintain strong arts programs in the face of budget tightening?

The Arundel Imagination Intensive Communities Consortium includes:

Mildred L. Day School, Arundel
    mld.rsu21.net/
Arundel Parent Teachers Association
The Alumni Band
The Education Foundation of the Kennebunks and Arundel
   www.educationfoundationka.org/php/
Heartwood College of Art, Kennebunk
   www.heartwoodcollegeofart.org/
The Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennebunkport
   www.trolleymuseum.org/

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