Their success is my success.
I strive to be an encouragement to my students and to seize upon every available opportunity to challenge and uplift them. I have been teaching since 1997, and 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 or instructional theories, 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 the field of art education, 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 while comparing aesthetic theory and to allow each other room to disagree without judgement or hostility. When examining instructional methods and the needs of children, I encourage future educators to put their students first, cultivating a pedagogy of empathy as well as developing technical skills and creative experiences. As an artist, researcher, and writer, I strive to produce work that is deeply meaningful, of high quality, and beneficial to other educators.
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 15 years I have traveled with about 250 students, mostly high school and college age, to England, France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Greece, 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 home town. 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 is as important as any other aspect of professional growth. It is the human connection, the empathetic moments of sharing meaningful experiences and cultivating relationships, that brings joy to my life as an educator.
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. 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.