BRS: Tell us how you decided to become an artist and teacher.
AG Long before it was time to start looking at which college to attend, I had been bitten by the artist bug. I was passionately involved with the art department in high school and I dreamed of becoming a painter. My parents, who have friends that are artists, knew how hard the life of a professional painter would be, so they encouraged me to explore other interests I might have without shutting down my desire to become an artist. I came upon a combined degree program between Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It was the perfect fit for me because it allowed me to learn more about art and hone my skills while taking classes in French and child development. In my second year, I became very serious about child development, so three years into the dual degree program I left to solely study child development which then became my major. I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity to combine my two passions for at least part of my experience in college.
I knew I wanted to become a teacher in my second year of college. I was taking a course called “The Child and the Educational Process” with Professor Rebecca New. She was one of the first people to share the Reggio Emilia pedagogy with educators in the Unites States. The way she described the educational approach was just magical. I remember one day, after her class, I was feeling inspired by her remarks and I thought, "I've never been more sure that I want to be a teacher."
BRS: Now that you have finished college, what is it like to be a teacher?
AG Currently I work in a school that centers around language immersion. It has a Chinese and Spanish track and the language model is 50/50 so students are in English one day, and in their target language (Chinese or Spanish) the following day. I teach 1st grade Spanish immersion. I am a classroom teacher so I teach my students reading, writing and math all in Spanish. They go to specials teachers for music, science, art and movement and wellness. As any teacher would say, time is precious and limited. Even though our current curriculum is carefully thought out and planned by us, there is so much more I want to do with my students. I wish I had more time to do art projects and explore their interests more. I wish we had more time to go to the playground. These are wishes and concerns that are shared by all teachers. I am incredibly grateful for the school I work in because my colleagues are progressive, forward thinking, passionate and caring of one another and the students. I feel supported and encouraged to try new things in my classroom. Most important of all, I get to go to work every day and share my love of language with my students. Moreover, the joy of seeing my students grow and take risks as budding Spanish speakers is too big to put into words.
BRS: How did your time at Blue Rock influence the person you are today?
AG My time at Blue Rock was incredibly influential to who I am today, and in large part, it made me want to become a teacher. What I most remember from Blue Rock is playing outdoors and spending time in nature learning about my surroundings. I also learned how to do arithmetic and how to write, but that is not what has stuck with me over the years. What has stuck with me is the bonds I formed with my teachers and friends and learning about the world in which we live by listening to stories from around the world and learning about other cultures. Blue Rock taught me the importance of having a connection to the natural world, self-expression and that social and emotional development and nurturing our creativity and empathy for others trumps academic skills and having an impressive resumé. When I left Blue Rock and moved onto a middle school in New Jersey, I struggled a little bit with the structure of different classes, getting grades and taking tests. It was not the content that was hard for me but the difference in format. After the initial period of adapting to a new environment I thrived throughout the rest of my school years. I will always remember Blue Rock for having given me a unique and magical experience in my childhood.
BRS: Tell us about some of your favorite memories from your time at Blue Rock.
AG I remember making "perfume" during recess by taking the flowers from the magnolia tree and mashing them up in water and then selling it, going to play soccer at Germond's Park weekly, and playing dodgeball on the woodchips. I loved putting on "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" play during my 6th grade year. I was Aunt Polly. And I remember listening to a story during lunch every day, waiting to hear the magical word so that we could start eating...