Teaching Philosophy

As an art educator, I hope to instill in my students a sense of curiosity, awareness, and an appreciation for the art and traditions of many cultures. Through art, students learn to think creatively, to fail gracefully, and to work with others. Art encompasses all of the elements of the other academic disciplines: it demands critical thinking, decision-making, skill development, cultural investigation, and problem solving. Art education can often enhance learning in other academic subjects by allowing students to think visually and to have tangible results. I believe that art education cultivates community. It teaches students to work together and engages school and local communities through collaboration on and interaction with artworks. In the arts, each student has the ability to be a designer, a free-thinker, and a maker. Art education can be a tool for instilling confidence in a child’s ability to think critically, to make decisions and to produce good work.


Maya Jaafar Lena is an Artist Educator in Portland, Maine. She received her M.A.T. from Tufts University. She received a B.A. in Visual Arts and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College and has a strong background in Outdoor Education. Maya works in a variety of media, including ceramics, painting, silk screen, fiber and digital design. She has taught and coached in independent and public schools, community art studios, and museums. As a student at Tufts, Maya co-founded CAFE – Community Arts for Education, a community arts project that connects youth with their local community by raising funds for extra-curricular art projects. Maya most recently taught Art at Scarborough Middle School and the University of New England. She lives in Portland, Maine, with her husband and daughter.

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