From left are art teacher Becky Christie and music teachers Lise Dunn and Rachel Domin, talking about Dunn’s long career teaching music in Freeport schools. Dunn will retire at the end of the school year, following 40 years in Freeport elementary schools.

In her 40 years of teaching music at elementary schools in Freeport, Lise Dunn hasn’t changed her methodology all that much, and she hasn’t seen that much difference in the students – especially the little ones.

But Dunn, who will retire from teaching music at Mast Landing School on June 19, has seen a big change in the lives of those students. They have a full plate – in and out of the classroom.

“What’s changed is demands on students’ time,” Dunn said last week, as she reminisced with music teacher Rachel Domin and art teacher Becky Christie. “It’s a lot more difficult for practice times. Now they’re lucky to get 20 minutes because they’re so scripted – they’re so busy.”

Dunn, 64, spent one year teaching music in the northern Maine town of Lincoln, then came to Freeport to stay. She started out teaching students in kindergarten through grade 8 at Morse Street and Freeport Middle schools. She scaled back to grades 3-4-5 when Mast Landing School was built in 1991.

“It was too much,” Dunn said. “It was too many students. We wanted to grow the program, and I was the only music teacher.”

Christie noted that the town was growing, which prompted Freeport to build Mast Landing. Morse Streeet School is K-through-2.

“There’s not a big difference now just teaching the little ones,” Christie said. “Kids at this age have very little inhibition when it comes to their art work.”

Dunn, who lives in North Yarmouth, said she wasn’t interested in trumpeting her remarkable tenure as a music teacher.

“But I see this as an opportunity to advocate for the arts in education,” she said. “I think that education in the arts is vital in students’ growth. I think arts should be core.”

Such is the case in the Regional School Unit 5 elementary schools. All 280 students at Mast Landing take two arts classes per week. But arts is an elective at Freeport High.

“We really wanted to protect that here, because that’s important,” Dunn said. “The most important part it for me is the ability for students to express themselves through music.”

Dunn’s students  use Orff instruments – in Mast Landing’s case xylophones designed to help students hone their musical skills. They also sing and learn to read music, and use solfège, which teaches pitch.

Dunn teaches her students a lot of folk music, and just a little pop.

“You have to really look at the lyrics and make sure they’e appropriate for the students,” she said.

Domin, who teaches music at both Morse Street and Mast Landing, will miss her colleague. She is on an interview committee to find a successor to Dunn.

“I’m going to miss her a lot,” Domin said. “I feel very fortunate to have worked with Lise for the last five years. We’ve constantly been in touch. I want to say that as a music teacher I have the same passion for teaching as Lise.”

Dunn said she is “at peace” with her decision to retire.

“I’ll kick back and see what I want to do,”she said. “I play piano and sing. I’ve loved teaching and I’ve loved my time in the RSU and Freeport, because if the teacher is learning, the student is learning. The arts are valued here.”

Dunn graduated from the old St. Louis High School in Biddeford, class of 1969. She obtained her bachelor’s in music from the former University of Maine at Portland Gorham (now the University of Southern Maine), and a master’s in choral conducting from the University of Maine.

She took one year off from her time in Freeport schools, 1999, to go sailing. Dunn and her husband, Paul, have a son, Ian.

In her 40 years of teaching music at elementary schools in Freeport, Lise Dunn hasn’t changed her methodology all that much, and she hasn’t seen that much difference in the students – especially the little ones.

But Dunn, who will retire from teaching music at Mast Landing School on June 19, has seen a big change in the lives of those students. They have a full plate – in and out of the classroom.

“What’s changed is demands on students’ time,” Dunn said last week, as she reminisced with music teacher Rachel Domin and art teacher Becky Christie. “It’s a lot more difficult for practice times. Now they’re lucky to get 20 minutes because they’re so scripted – they’re so busy.”

Dunn, 64, spent one year teaching music in the northern Maine town of Lincoln, then came to Freeport to stay. She started out teaching students in kindergarten through Grade 8 at Morse Street and Freeport Middle schools. She scaled back to grades 3-4-5 when Mast Landing School was built in 1991.

“It was too much,” Dunn said. “It was too many students. We wanted to grow the program, and I was the only music teacher.”

Christie noted that the town was growing, which prompted Freeport to build Mast Landing. Morse Streeet School is K-through-2.

“There’s not a big difference now just teaching the little ones,” Christie said. “Kids at this age have very little inhibition when it comes to their art work.”

Dunn, who lives in North Yarmouth, said she wasn’t interested in trumpeting her remarkable tenure as a music teacher.

“But I see this as an opportunity to advocate for the arts in education,” she said. “I think that education in the arts is vital in students’ growth. I think arts should be core.”

Such is the case in the Regional School Unit 5 elementary schools. All 280 students at Mast Landing take two arts classes per week. But arts is an elective at Freeport High.

“We really wanted to protect that here, because that’s important,” Dunn said. “The most important part it for me is the ability for students to express themselves through music.”

Dunn’s students  use Orff instruments – in Mast Landing’s case xylophones designed to help students hone their musical skills. They also sing and learn to read music, and use solfège, which teaches pitch.

Dunn teaches her students a lot of folk music and just a little pop.

“You have to really look at the lyrics and make sure they’e appropriate for the students,” she said.

Domin, who teaches music at both Morse Street and Mast Landing, will miss her colleague. She is on an interview committee to find a successor to Dunn.

“I’m going to miss her a lot,” Domin said. “I feel very fortunate to have worked with Lise for the last five years. We’ve constantly been in touch. I want to say that as a music teacher I have the same passion for teaching as Lise.”

Dunn graduated from the old St. Louis High School in Biddeford, class of 1969. She obtained her bachelor’s in music from the former University of Maine at Portland Gorham (now the University of Southern Maine), and a master’s in choral conducting from the University of Maine.

She took one year off from her time in Freeport schools, 1999, to go sailing. Dunn and her husband, Paul, have a son, Ian.

Dunn said she is “at peace” with her decision to retire.

“I’ll kick back and see what I want to do,”she said. “I play piano and sing. I’ve loved teaching and I’ve loved my time in the RSU and Freeport, because if the teacher is learning, the student is learning. The arts are valued here.”


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