Above are a few photographs from my time as an art teacher at The Foote School.
I was in middle school the first time I began grading papers. My mother is a high school English teacher and would often spend Sundays sitting at the table grading the papers and tests from her students. If they were multiple choice she would give me the answer key and I enjoyed marking the questions right or wrong in the brightly colored pens she would use. While at that point I simply enjoyed getting to use those colorful pens and the organization that came with grading papers; before it wasn’t until later that I would realize I loved teaching just as much as the paperwork.
Having been surrounded by a family of teachers, it is to no one’s surprise, except perhaps mine, that I too have a passion for the success of students. When I first began my college career, teaching was not at the forefront of my mind. I have spent much of my life traveling from small weekend trips to New York City to month-long cross country road trips. I intended to continue my love for traveling and creativity in a college career, bringing me to the Savannah College of Art and Design. I took my initial classes in drawing, design, and art history eventually picking the major of photography. I began to photograph a diverse range of subjects from commercial to documentary. In 2019, I lived abroad in Hong Kong and France as well as traveled to India and Thailand furthering my desire to experience new cultures and meet creatives around the world. It wasn’t, however, the world traveling in 2019 that would cause me to change my outlook on my future and career, but instead my fellowship at The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut which I began the summer after my studies abroad.
At The Taft School, I learned that my love for children extended to a love for teaching them. I combined my passion for photography with my newfound desire to teach within my fellowship. I learned to lesson plan and lead a classroom, but most importantly I learned how to develop relationships with students that led them to create work they were proud to showcase. When not in my own classroom, I worked alongside a lead teacher who mentored me in how to effectively teach the medium of photography. I learned the ins and outs of an independent school environment by living in the dorms, chaperoning trips, and developing dance lessons. Once the fellowship was all over I found myself missing those students and the school environment. This led me to apply for a program through my college that put me in an inner-city fifth-grade classroom in Savannah, Georgia. I served as a teaching assistant for one of the most powerful women I have met. She ran her classroom efficiently in an environment where the circumstances were anything but ideal. What the school lacked in resources, she made up for with enthusiasm and creativity. I learned how to command a classroom of those not willing to learn and change their attitudes completely.
My most recent experience was at The Foote School, where I was able to lead my own art classroom. I was given the opportunity to combine my knowledge from both The Taft School and Gadsden Elementary as I taught 4th-grade and 7th-grade art. With the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 school year, there were many challenges I had to overcome beyond just being a first-year teacher. While I was lucky to be in a school environment that worked hard to keep safe teaching in-person for the majority of the year, there was a period during the winter when I taught art through Zoom. This proved to be a challenge that even my most experienced colleagues struggled with. Together as an art department, we made hundreds of art kits for all our students so they would have the supplies to create beautiful pieces. Art became an especially important subject for the students during this time period when they had to remain in their homes without the outlet of usual activities. With my 7th grade students, I gave them more creative freedom to express their thoughts and emotions teaching them about artists who did the same. For my 4th grade students, I explored influential artists and came up with compelling projects, despite more limited materials.
I now cannot imagine my life heading in any direction other than that of a classroom. I am motivated to bring my love for the arts and creativity into any school I am lucky enough to be a part of. I am in search of a new school family environment that will give me the opportunity to continue to teach and grow not only as a teacher but as a person.