Today I taught a small group of women how to sculpt an ornament in polymer clay. It was a beginner class, but the students marvelled at what they were able to create. Tonight, as I look back at the day’s events and try to think of ways to make the workshop more interesting, I began to think about a teacher that made an impact on me and how, without knowing it, she made me believe I was an artist.
I don’t remember her name anymore, but I remember her face. There are only a few non-traumatic memories that stand out in my mind before age 7, but I remember this one vividly. We had just come back from summer holidays and the teacher asked us to draw a picture about something we did that summer. I was a shy dark haired girl in a classroom filled with mostly blondes and red heads. My parents didn’t speak english very well and we were one of only two or three Italian families that lived in the Glebe at the time. My brother and I had to deal with the taunts and name calling every day. But that day . . . as I drew a picture of my family, my aunts and uncles and my cousins enjoying a picnic on a grassy hill, the teacher came up behind me and gasped. That’s the first time I heard the word “perspective”. I had drawn my parents at the front and the rest of the family layered behind, progressively smaller as they played up on the hill. I don’t think my art abilities were prodigy worth, but my teacher gushed, and that day, she bestowed upon me the title of “class artist”. That day changed how I felt about going to school, but more importantly it changed how I felt about myself. From grade one all the way to high school, that title stuck. Looking back, I believe a very kind teacher found a way to boost a self-conscious child’s confidence at the exact moment it was needed. Without knowing it, she also helped me find my passion and my career path.
She’s not the only one, I’ve been lucky to have a few teachers who have made an impact on me. From Mrs. Peloso who had me do colouring pages for her kindergarden class, Sister Rosemary who put me in charge of posters and chalk board art, Sister at Holy Rosary for recruiting me for lunch time painting sessions, Mrs. Pilon and my current mentors and artist friends who share their knowledge and passion. I thank them all and I hope I can always make a difference in helping others find their inner artist.
A big hug to two special teachers who are making a difference in kids lives today . . . Candice and Sarah!