Monthly Mentor

Heidi O'Donnell (December)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. December's monthly mentor is Heidi O'Donnell. Heidi is a high school art educator in mid-coast Maine with twenty years of experience and an insatiable appetite for learning new things. She holds a MEd in Built Environment Education, a BA in Visual Arts, a BS in Arts Education, and a minor in Art History, all from the University of Maine at Orono. Heidi is a recent graduate of the NAEA School for Art Leaders and serves as a National Art Honor Society Sponsor. Click "GO" to read her full bio.



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« Season of Giving | Main

December 05, 2017

Giving, Icelandic Style

From: Heidi O'Donnell

I recently read a treehugger article that shed light on an Icelandic holiday tradition I was not familiar with: giving books. On Christmas Eve, books are traditionally given and then the evening is spent reading. Second only to art supplies, I love books! This is a tradition I feel could apply to every holiday, in every culture, year-round.... Winter Solstice, Groundhog’s Day, Teacher’s Day (September 28th – Celebrated in Taiwan, honoring teacher’s contributions to their students and to society in general. The date commemorates Confucius, master educator in ancient China)… I also love celebrations and traditions.

Here in the state of Maine, we have an excellent Visual and Performing Arts Specialist at the Department of Education, Beth Lambert. Among numerous professional development opportunities she organizes and provides, such as bringing in national experts (including Robert Sabol) to run an Assessment in the Visual and Performing Arts Summer Institute as well as a Full STEAM Ahead! cohort (where educators cross disciplines to learn about Visual & Performing Arts and Science standards as well as explore co-teaching strategies), Beth facilitates a Book Club for Arts Educators. Let me just say, Art Teacher Book Club Rocks! Over the last two years we have read:



Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education
Ken Robinson, Ph.D.

Artscience: Creativity in the Post-Google Generation
David Edwards



The Artistic : 7 Skills Children Need to Succeed in an Increasingly Right Brian World
Lisa Phillips

The Arts and the Creation of Mind
Elliot W. Eisner

Other books I’ve recently read include two that were required reading for the NAEA School for Art Leaders program:



Finding the Space to Lead: A Practical Guide to Mindful Leadership
Janice Marturano

Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life
Steward D. Friedman

Suzanne Goulet, the NAEA October Monthly Mentor, gifted me one of my favorite books when I was elected President of the Maine Art Education Association position:

MaedaRedesigning Leadership
John Maeda

Presenters at NAEA National Conventions introduced additional favorites:



Color: A Natural History of the Palette
Victoria Finlay

Studio Thinking 2: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education
Lois Hetland, Ellen Winner, Shirley Veenema, and Kimberly M Sheridan

My holiday break reading list includes:



A Brilliant History of Color in Art
Victoria Finlay

(A gift from a student. <3)

The Forger’s Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century
Edward Dolnick

In the spirit of giving, my gift to you is the modest book list above. My challenge to you is two-fold:

1. I call on you to share your favorite teacher books/art books in the comment section. Spread the wealth!

2. Consider Art Teacher Book Club. Either join one you know of or start one. It’s an excellent way to build connections, share your wisdom, and flex your leadership muscles…


Martinko, Katherine. “The Beautiful Icelandic Tradition of Giving Books on Christmas Eve.”TreeHugger, Treehugger, 12 Sept. 2017,


Debra Bickford

The two color ones are already on my book list :-) Great post.

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