Their success is my success.
I strive to be an encouragement to my students, to seize upon every available opportunity to challenge and uplift them. Through teaching and mentoring, I seek to be a persistent voice for equity, and to create an environment where all students feel included, represented, and welcome. Each year it is my goal to provide a learning environment that is both stimulating and safe, where students are exposed to new ideas, artwork, philosophies, and perspectives, and where they are comfortable asking questions and risking creative answers to solve new challenges.
High standards of ethics and rigorous curriculum in my classes are paired with thoughtful and relevant pedagogy. In artistic fields, where creativity is a vital component of achievement, I seek to set the stage for both innovation and success. When we discuss the aesthetics of an artwork or concepts from a text, I encourage students to exchange original ideas and allow each other room to disagree without judgement or hostility. I encourage developing new perspectives through empathy while improving technical skills and creative expression. As an artist, researcher, and writer, I strive to produce work that is deeply meaningful and beneficial.
Experiential learning is incredibly valuable. In addition to classroom instruction, I take groups of students overseas for educational, creative, and service-learning experiences. Over the last twenty years I have traveled with over 300 students, mostly high school and college age, to England, France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Greece, Australia, and Japan. Each journey is ripe with artistic discovery and creative inspiration. I have witnessed firsthand the life-changing moments when my students discover the vibrant, authentic world outside of their hometown. Their encounters with ordinary people, where they themselves are the foreigner, break down cultural and racial barriers and open up new possibilities for future travels and international career choices. They grow in confidence and conviction while I grow as an educator.
As we ‘live’ together in the classroom, students and teachers alike learn about the talents and challenges of those who come from diverse backgrounds and different experiences. Through creating and talking about meaningful artworks, we find common ground and celebrate the unique ideas we each contribute to the class community. I believe firmly that increasing the depth of my own cultural competency and striving towards Anti-Racist pedagogy is a vital aspect of professional growth.
Leading our pre-service teachers to develop this capacity and increase self-awareness is crucial to their preparation for working in the real world with all students. Moving towards authentic inclusivity is an ongoing goal. It is an honor to prepare the next generation of educators, for ours is work that will challenge and uplift, shining the light of knowledge and compassion long into the future.