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Re: art school


Date: Tue Mar 25 2003 - 20:20:11 PST

Being hired for my job was TRUE fate. There I was, two weeks before
school was out, still throwing pots and firing kilns...loving every
second, but no idea WHAT I was going to do once I graduated with a BFA
in Ceramics. LOL. YOu should have seen my parents' face when I told
them what I was changing my major to THIS time!!! (It WAS the
sixties....things like that happened.) I was married to a writer who
told me to "go for it" when I switched my major to art. To tell you the
truth, I was jealous of his typewriter for quite a while and started
taking art classes to survive and try to find my own passions! I could
NOT understand how ANYBODY could spend SO much time working on anything!
I obviously didn't understand what it meant to "find your passion."
Well, ceramics became my passion, and for the first time in my life, I
was REALLY learning about art. Here's where the fates get really
amazing. For some reason, I had put off taking my first semester of
art history until my graduating semester. I had a fabulous teacher...a
young woman who taught part time at my school and part time at the
University of Houston in Art History. We became friends as we walked to
the parking lot after dark following class. I was kind of a star
pupil...hung on her every word, and loved to's pet? Anyway, two weeks before graduation,
she told me about the opening at my school. Purely by instinct, I
walked to the UH bookstore, asked, "Excuse me, can you please tell me
where the art education section is?"
I walked to the shelves of art ed books, the first book I put my hand on
was Wachowiaks book. I liked the colors on the spine, lol. I was
intstantly enthralled with the creme de la creme kids art examples,
discussions about projects and materials, philosophies, etc. I just knew
this was the book to read before my interview, the second I touched it.
I read it over the weekend, typed a resume, and turned my resume in on
Tuesday morning. I was called for an interview by the end of the week.
I hit it off GREAT with the teacher I would be working with, also the
principal. We talked about my portfolio, the experience I had with kids
to date, my art history teacher (who had written a great rec letter for
me), what I had in mind for children's art classes at SJS, how I felt
about kids, etc. (and I was able to do all of this thanks to
Wachowiak!!!!!) We spent a long time talking about Cancun!! I was about
to leave on a vacation. I knew I had hit if off well with the other
teacher and the lower school head. I was called back for a second
interview about a week later, and met with the head of the school, and
the ms head, as I would also be assigned to teach a ms class if hired.
THe DAY I was leaving on my vacation, they finally called (about a month
later) and offered me the job. I was literally about to walk out the
door. I was delirious. I ran upstairs to grab Wachowiak to throw in my
suitcase, for sure! That summer I took copious notes, and was able to
plan my first year's curriculum just from that book and a bunch of arts
and activities and School Arts Mags. THe woman I worked with had a
fabulous sense of humor and was very open and sharing with me. Our
doors were always open. Kids were welcomed in each of our classes, and
we sometimes played jokes on the kids/they on us together. She talked
me into presenting workshops at TAEA the first year. Out of the frying
pan, into the fire, eh? I couldn't have learned from a better teacher.
What luck. It feels so good to be giving back to someone else new this
year, and seeing another new art teacher absolutely LOVING what she is
doing with her kids. OUR doors are always open. We laugh all the time.
We both push our kids to do their very best, and we have similar
approaches to what we think is important for kids to experience in art
class. The shoe is on the other foot, and it fits great! Oh, one other
FREAKY thing. At my first parent's night, a woman approached me and
asked me where I had gone to high school. I told her that I had gone to
Westchester HS in Houston (a school that was closed by the time I was
teaching.) She looked surprised and said "Oh, I taught there!" I asked
her what she taught, and she said she taught art.....yes,....she was my
teacher. All I can think is that she must have been going through a
really rough time because she stayed behind her desk in the front of the
room and we did things like painting still lifes with apples and green
glass winebottles in them....b o r i n g. I don't remember learning any
art words in that value, contrast, etc. I sat inthe back
row watching this girl named Stephanie draw...she was amazing. I was
hooked on watching her. She gave me a drawing, and I put it in my
backpack. My mom found it and commented "Linda, did YOU do this???"
Always desperate to have created something incredible, I just said
"yeah" to see what it felt like to have done something so beautiful. I
have to tel you, I did paint by numbers and colored in coloring books as
a kid. I was never taught much or encouraged at all. I could draw, but
only by copying something. WHen I changed my major to art in college,
my family said "WHAT??? WHY???" all but my great husband, who said "go
for it..." The day I walked into art classes in college for the first
time, I was terrified. I expected everyone in there to be little mini
Picassos, I think. But from the first week, I knew I had made the right
decision. I literally was SHOWN how to be creative. I watched others
voraciously and soaked up everything like a total sponge. THe doors
opened, the windows flung open, and I was really REALLY high on life for
the first time ever. I found that passion and determination, desire and
motivaton put my brain in a place it had never been before. I still
feel that way. I think one of the reasons that I love teaching so much
is because I remember what it was like to be desperate to be able to "DO
ART" but not have anyone teaching me. I discovered for myself what
passion and determination could do. I carry that memory on my back
daily in my classroom. I truly believe that anyone who WANTS to learn
art CAN learn to be more creative, skillful, and soothed by the process.
I believe in all of my students and tell them all the time that they can
do anything that they truly want to do, and can be anything that they
truly want to be. Oh...on a closing note, the teacher who I didn't
remember as my art teacher (and she did not remember me either) ended up
subbing for me sometimes, as I ended up teaching her kids. She was a
very creative member of the community by the time we caught up with each
other again. An excellent sub for years. Perhaps she was going through
a divorce or something when she sat behind her desk. Ya never know. Oh
well, that's the end of my story! Night all.