After completing all requirements for a BA with major/minor in Art, I thought about continuing my to obtain a second degree in education. However, I had a full-time job that was paying more than I could make teaching school. I chose the path of financial security that would insure my obligations were met. Following that path took me away from a career in teaching also left me with little time for making art.
Fast forward thirty-six years. I retired from the corporate world in 2009 on a Friday in September. I had always wondered what my life would be like if I had taken the other path. The following Monday, I contacted a local school district to inquire about working as a substitute teacher. My first assignment was to substitute for and elementary art teacher. I made an amazing discovery that day, I not only a love for teaching but a renewed hunger for art. Teachers began to contact me to fill in for them. I was working every day and many encouraged me to obtain an alternative certification. Near the end of my clinical teaching, I attended a job fair and was given an email address for a fine arts coordinator in a large district.
The most memorable event was the day I was hired for my current job. I had photos of several pieces of my art and a resume in hand. The district fine arts coordinator, reviewed my art carefully then asked a question from her interview check list. I answered the question and talked about my art, work as a sub and goals. The next question was would I have time to visit one of the middle schools to interview with the principal. She made the call and gave me the principal’s name and school address. She shook my hand, smiled and said this had been the most amazing interview she had ever participated in. On the drive to the middle school, I realized she had only asked two questions during the last two hours. I recently completed my fifth year there. I have heard from other art teachers that they have little time for their own work. I found the opposite to be true. Teaching makes my art better. Students force me to answer questions and help expand their knowledge. I have dreamed up interesting assignments using unfamiliar materials. To make sure the ideas work, I make pieces that they can see. My goal is to stay ahead of them by a couple of days. The process produces some amazing student work and surprise, I learn also. In our district, we are required to be working artists who teach. I have produced more art in the last five years than in the rest of my life combined.
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