It took me a long time when I was younger to realize that my niche was going to be in art education. I fought my natural talents, my creative inclinations, the advice and encouragement of my parents and highschool teachers, and set out, instead, to be an aerospace engineer. I was going to be a pilot. Nevermind all of my studio preparations, my AP credits, governor’s school of art applications, extracurricular art endeavors. I wanted to fly.
Pushing aside all that was familiar, I left home and headed out for the University of Pittsburgh Engineering program. Slowly but surely it dawned on me (as I began to fail Calculus and develop shingles and stomach ulcers from the stress of it all), that engineering was certainly not what my path in life was meant to be.
So I switched my major, as so many college kids tend to do, and started fresh in the studio art department. Insisting my art was for me alone, I enjoyed my classes and bodies of work but never felt like I was working toward any kind of goal or future. Get my studio art degree but then what? Do what? Go where?
It was a scary decision to transfer schools entirely. Paying for college, even with my parents help, was a tricky business and the word transfer automatically equated to even more money. How many extra semesters would I need? Was I too far behind already? Where would I student teach without a car? How would it all work? But I realized that was the only option if I wanted not just to do art, but to teach art. Thankfully for me, one of Pittsburgh’s other University’s, Carlow University, offered a combined Studio Art/Art Education degree. I had enough studio and general education credits to make it all work only requiring one extra semester devoted entirely to student teaching with no class work at all. Of course that took extra work on my part. Getting into classes that were full. Overloading my semesters with six, seven, eight courses each, taking many summer classes. But I did it, amidst getting married, having our first daughter, moving our family into the house we live in now. I never quit, and I never felt hopeless.
And finally, I am right where I wanted to be. Settled into my life, comfortably enjoying my girls and the family I have, patiently waiting for the perfect job opening to become available. All the skills and experiences I need to be a great educator and a great Mom are active and in motion. It’s up to me to use them!
Here’s a little taste of what some of my kiddos have done. I was blessed to student teach in a phenomenal district with an amazing mentor allowing me to come up with projects that basically had no boundaries.