Ours schools and communities continue to cultivate the arts and teachers have a crucial role in encouraging and teaching our youth to become creative thinkers. The 2021 Maine Region Scholastic Art Awards honors one of our state’s outstanding art educators who is also a mentor, an arts leader, and brought Scholastics to the State of Maine 32 years ago.
Margaret (Peg) Maxwell’s first teaching job was in 1983 in a three-room schoolhouse in Otis, a small town on the outskirts of Ellsworth, Maine. She eventually settled into a position at Bonny Eagle where she taught for nearly 38 years. An innovator, she crossed boundaries creating engaging curricula. She invited the Martha Graham Dancers to USM and Merrill Auditorium after working with them at Monmouth College. She was integral at bringing Alvin Ailey dancers to Maine and Arthur Hall of Sesame Street, a friend from Philadelphia, who eventually moved his dance studio to Camden, Maine, permanently. She created a multidisciplinary curricula, integrating the arts into education.
Continuing her personal artistic growth throughout her career, she studied a dizzying list of courses from book arts at Bennington College to Marine Biological Illustration to Documentary Film here in Rockport, and so much more. She generously shared her knowledge with her community and students, reshaping art education and curricula.
We honor Ms. Maxwell, who brought the Scholastic Awards program to Maine in 1989 when she began teaching at Bonny Eagle High School. She noted that they had to pay an additional fee and go through an additional board of jurors due to not being sponsored by a major corporation or post-secondary institution. She spent many years seeking support for the program through colleges and even the Boston Globe, as they supported Massachusetts and New Hampshire schools. Maine College of Art eventually took hold of the opportunity followed by Heartwood School in Kennebunk for a couple of years with MECA.
Many of Peg’s students have continued in the arts as well working in creative fields like directing animation for Nickelodeon and PBS, or interning with Dale Chihuly, and designing websites for Disney, Oprah and ESPN. Other alumni are Fulbright scholars, and even a young artist was featured in Esquire as one of the top 10 Rogue Artists in the US. The list is exhaustive.
It is fitting that this art educator and State Arts leader should be honored with our first State of Maine Scholastic Art Educator Excellence Award. We thank Peg Maxwell for all her hard work and dedication in creating the foundation for our Scholastic program in Maine. We will be forever grateful for your presence in Maine’s Art Education Landscape. You have touched so many lives and it is with great pleasure that we congratulate you on these many achievements. We all look forward to seeing what important innovations you bring to the Maine Arts Scene in your next chapter!