Preschoolers in RSU 58 work on art projects.

Artwork by a preschooler in RSU 58 is displayed on an easel.

PHILLIPS — Regional School Unit 58 directors heard from two teachers Thursday night about a unique professional development class that changed the way they look at their preschool students.

Art teacher Adam Masterman and Phillips Elementary School pre-kindergarten teacher Heidi MacIsaac recently participated in a Maine Department of Education program designed to incorporate state learning standards into pre-kindergarten classrooms. They attended a three-day workshop on Fostering the Artful Early Childhood Classroom.

The two said they learned more about the wisdom of letting the children make their own decisions about their projects and not asking what the finished project is supposed to represent.

Children in MacIsaac’s classroom were asked to describe what they did and how they did it, which helped develop their confidence and language skills.


Masterman suggested that those who look at a child’s artwork not try to interpret or decide what the colors and shapes mean.

“You may not recognize what’s there, but if you ask, you can see it’s meaningful to them,” Masterman said.

Preschool children can use art to start drawing and recognizing shapes, as he and MacIsaac demonstrated in a slide show of the finished artwork. All young students develop their fine motor skills when they learn to control a crayon or paintbrush before they learn to print or write. While they might not be ready for math, they could learn about lines, circles and proportions. The ultimate goal is to encourage the integration of the many skills that the preschool child’s brain must master.

“So much of what I learned carried over into the classroom,” Masterman said.

The two took the lessons back to Phillips Elementary School and made lots of changes, some small and some bigger.

“We changed the easel to add more colors all the time,” MacIsaac said. “We also experimented with better ways to use classroom space.”

The preschool children also participated in their first districtwide art show this year.

In other news, the board approved Jamie Ela of Anson as the new Kingfield Elementary School principal. Ela is a curriculum coordinator in RSU 74.

She will replace Kim Ramharter, who is retiring at the end of the school year. The board also approved employee contract renewals and accepted several resignations.

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