Start here. Go Anywhere. Maine College of Art’s ten-month Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program prepares artists to become eﬀective art educators who learn to translate their unique qualities into creative teaching practices.
The program blends theory with practical, action-based learning in hands-on settings that enrich both creativity and critical thinking. Field work and community engagement are essential components of the program. Like most students at MECA, the MAT candidates can be seen working in a variety of settings across the greater Portland area, including schools, museums, and community-based learning centers.
The MAT is divided into three phases: a one-month summer intensive where theory-based courses are taught in an institute-like setting with field experiences beginning on the very first day; a fall semester of courses that include studio art, teaching methods & curriculum building, work in alternative settings, and a consideration of how to manage a classroom for all students; and a spring semester that culminates with a 15-week student teaching experience, enhanced by an action research seminar.
While in the program, you will:
Once core courses have been completed, candidates may intern for student teaching in Maine or any other qualified setting across the US or around the world. MECA is also listed as a participating college with the Department of Defense Schools (DoDEA) for placement of student teachers.
Upon completion, graduates are eligible to apply for certification in Maine as well as other US states, territories, the DoDEA, and the District of Columbia under their Interstate Reciprocity Agreements. Most international schools accept US certifications as well.
*For full course descriptions, email Graduate Programs Admissions Counselor, Adrienne Kitko, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 207.699.5023.
We’re the ones who someday will be the art teacher in high school that you all loved. We’re the ones who might be the middle school art teacher whom you don’t really remember, but somehow it was still your favorite class. We’re the ones who want to tell the schools, the parents, and the community, how important the arts are.
Each day teaching feels like it flies by. As a requirement, all teachers must complete Student Growth Objectives during the year, complete with collecting evidence from a population of students and analyzing data. It is similar it is to our Action Research projects at MECA! I feel like I have a bit of an advantage, having done something similar before. The Art Education Program prepared me well.Aimee Carmella MAT '15 // High School Art // Glen Gardner, NJ
I am very happy to be able to pass along the news that I was hired as an art teacher. I am grateful for the encouragement and support that MECA had given. Reading my reference letters again helped me remember how much we learned at MECA and remind me that I'm ready for my own classroom!Rosemary Ellis MAT '14 // Elementary Art // Farmingdale, ME
As part of the school’s program, all faculty members are required to take workshops in scientific inquiry and investigation. As the only art teacher there, I felt a little out of place that first day. However, because at MECA we talked a lot about inquiry, project-based learning, and the incorporation of interdisciplinary knowledge, I was definitely ahead of the game, and was able to very quickly validate my place at the table.Debra Schaeffer MAT '15 // Middle School Teacher // Southbury, CT
I never anticipated how much my college students would love going to a place that felt like a home and a family. They missed being surrounded by older, nurturing elders… The exhibition was a beautiful mix of wheelchairs, walkers, and wild hairstyles. The way our communities came together in this class and exhibit was phenomenal.
Article originally published in The Cedars Magazine.
Local Art Students and Seniors at The Cedars Fore a Connection Through Art
“Where can I be an aging artist?”
“Where can I be true to myself”
Kelly McConnell, an artist-educator at MECA, found herself pondering these questions while observing an Opening Minds Through Art (OMA) session at The Cedars.
OMA, led by artist-in-residence Pamela Moulton, is an innovative intergenerational art therapy program that allows seniors with dementia to create, and communicate, with abstract art while training physical therapy students at the University of New England for careers in elder care. Kelly was energized and inspired— and determined to find a way to forge the same kind of bond between seniors and her own art education students at MECA.
The Cedars Learning Community™ and the students at Maine College of Art develop an innovative, intergenerational approach to teaching art to seniors that transforms the way we see aging—and each other.
Kelly McConnell’s popular Public Engagement seminar teaches students at MECA how to teach art. Her pupils practice these skills in a real-world setting, typically a secondary school classroom. But after seeing OMA in action at The Cedars, she had a bold idea: asking The Cedars to host her seminar.
Developing community partnerships and educational opportunities is a core objective of The Cedars Learning Community™, so The Cedars eagerly signed on.
“I so appreciated the spirit of the leaders at The Cedars to do things that are things artists do— sit with uncertainty hover in the unknown, explore,” she says. “It was a leap of faith for everyone.”
Kelly’s collaborative, emergent approach to teaching meant that everyone involved— students and elder artists— could, and did, shape the direction of the course and the work. The elder artists practiced art techniques and the MECA students practiced teaching and social outreach strategies, but that was just the part of the knowledge shared and gained.
“We asked the elder artists what they hoped to get out of the class,” Kelly recalls. “They told us ‘at the end of this class, I hope we will be friends'”.
Over the next seven weeks, the elder artists and the art students did become friends.
“The elders and students grappled with big questions about the nature of art and their roles of artists,” Kelly says. “They could also ask each other about hair colors, nose rings, and their job prospects after graduation.”
The course culminated in a First Friday exhibition at MECA where students, seniors, their families, and The Cedars community gathered to celebrate a bold vision of community, aging, and art.
“Art didn’t mean anything to me until older years. It became a part of my life and I have the time. Art means not to be afraid of making a mark on the paper, and it doesn’t matter if my neighbor says it’s art. I am the artist! Art is about not being afraid to do what I want as an artist” — Lauretta, Elder Artist
Making art transports the mind, body and soul to places of imagination and inspiration. While the Master of Arts in Teaching program at Maine College of Art primarily prepares teacher candidates to teach in K-12 public schools, opportunities for teaching art in local community-based settings abound. As part of the Alternative Settings class with Assistant Professor and Director of Art Education Outreach Kelly McConnell, a group of MAT candidates, including Adrienne Kitko, Debra Schaeffer, Lia Petriccione, Shaun Alyward and Tess Hitchcock, selected a placement at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
The group shared their enthusiasm for collaborative and individual art making by planning a group activity, followed by one-on-one projects tailored for each person.
To begin, they set up a station for the children to learn and explore. Their lesson plans included providing the young patients with various paints, colors and brushes to design unique puzzle pieces that would form a whole. “Tess, Lia and I got to the hospital early to set up,” explained Adrienne. “While we were waiting at the nurses’ station, I heard doors slowly open, and saw tiny eyes peering at us through the sliver of the open door. We put our stuff down and immediately a curious little girl came up to us, exclaiming that she loves to paint but only has 10 minutes before her next IV treatment. We all reacted quickly and set this little girl up with a palette of various colors of paints, brushes and a water cup, and let her pick out her own puzzle piece.”
Adrienne further explained their planning process: “Our hope was for the children to get to know one another, make a friend or two and realize they are not alone. Our hopes were exceeded when we had more children than we expected and their family members participated in the painting, laughing and playing around with the puzzle pieces.”
After the puzzle activity, the MAT teacher candidates worked with individual patients, designing lessons that focused on art skills that would bring out personal expression and be fun to do. Each teacher candidate used a medium that the children wanted to learn something more about. When describing the experience, Tess Hitchcock noted, “Ashleigh wanted to learn how to paint, so I brought watercolors and a smile to the hospital one Saturday morning.” Tess’s lesson built on Ashleigh’s desire to paint and extended her thinking by posing age-related provocative questions about art making like, “Is it okay to make a mess?” and “Does your painting have to look like something real?” Soon following her lesson with Tess, Ashleigh purchased a watercolor set of her own and continues to experiment with her newfound medium.
The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital reflects the experience of teacher candidates in all of the Alternative Settings class placements. Provide art, provide expertise, provide excitement and the rest follows.
Maine College of Art’s nationally accredited Master of Arts in Teaching program is designed to prepare artists to recognize how their personal attributes and talents enhance and strengthen the learning environment. It is an intensive, 10-month program that blends the worlds of art and education.
MECA’s program stresses the critical practice of self-reflection and as a result, I know myself better now than I did when I first arrived.
When I searched for graduate programs, I was looking for a small-sized class and a fierce course of study which emphasized an artist-educator philosophy, educational theory and hands-on experience. MECA’s program stresses the critical practice of self-reflection and as a result, I know myself better now than I did when I first arrived. This new depth of understanding has made me better prepared to become the teacher I most want to be. I have realized that learning occurs when we reflect on the connection of information learned in the classroom to our experiences in the field. When we contextualize knowledge into our unique experiences we become more grounded and empathetic educators.
An emphasis on student-centered teaching in MECA’s art education program revealed to me that my artwork is not only a visual response to the contemporary society in which we live, but also a culmination of my experiences reflected through the lens of my identity. My work is an embodiment of my struggle to identify my position in the technologically driven and amnesiac environment we experience today. It is important to understand and empathize with each of our student’s identities for only when we know that their artwork is a reflection of their world and unique experience have we effectively taught
Chair of the MAT Program, Fern Tavalin, announced that all 2015 graduates were offered full-time, permanent positions in their chosen fields, working in PK-12 schools in Maine, New Jersey, Connecticut, in the United States, as well as Ghana in West Africa. According to Fern Tavalin, “The success rate of this graduating class reflects the quality of educational programming found here at MECA, and also the caliber of students who choose to attend MECA. Upon completion of the program, graduates are highly qualified to seek teaching opportunities in a variety of settings.”
I believe that the arts are a positive experience innate to the nature of us all.
After receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture, Elise Bothel furthered her education, also at MECA, by becoming certified to teach art through MECA’s Post-Baccalaureate Certification program (which has evolved into our current MAT program). She currently teaches at Narragansett Elementary School in Maine and was selected to participate in the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative as a lead teacher. She also continues to make and sell her work.
She says, “I believe education should be for the benefit of the student and the community of the world at large. I believe that the arts are a positive experience innate to the nature of us all. With art we can heal, reflect, grow, express emotion, and experience joy. Art is key to personal development, and also a way to show knowledge in a cohesive form. All children are born connected to the art of drawing, singing, dancing, storytelling, and imagination. All cultures across time use art as a means of expression. I aim to reconnect my students to the joy, never ending depth, and inquiry art has to offer. I bring joy to the classroom by being a caring, open, and receptive educator. I design lessons that serve students’ personal interests, ideas, and inquires. I allow failure to be a part of the art making process, while still adhering to the state and national standards for art education. I want my students to be unafraid to create, and to explore and embrace their own artistic abilities.”
“I believe the purpose of art education is to give students confidence in their ideas and in themselves. I like to encourage students to take risks, and to try new venues and ways of seeing using a multitude of materials and methods. Its important that a variety of mediums and techniques from many cultures are incorporated into my arts curriculum because I feel that exploring and learning a new material or process adds skill, self-assurance, and global understanding to the artist’s range of tools.”
“Reflection, interpretation, and questioning are important tools for the art classroom. My classroom climate is supportive and constructive, growing to meet the needs of the individual and the group. Class critiques are vital to collective and self-understanding as well as to build a vocabulary for discussion about art. By looking at and talking about the art created in the classroom compared and contrasted to art made in other places and times, students can better assess their own work and find meaning within the context of the art world. We as humans are all connected. Art is the way to understand and grasp the concept of the responsibility and empathy required to best live and interact cohesively with others.”