Ever since I was four years old, I wanted to be an educator. I remember making my younger sister sit for hours with my toys and I would “read” out loud to her, while also, trying to “teach her” the alphabet. My mom bought me a giant chalkboard easel I was very proud to own. My sister now has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology, so I must have been doing something right! Hah!
I am the product of Tucson Unified School District’s Fine Art Magnet program, which gave me the opportunity to explore fantastic youth programs, like dance, visual arts, advanced orchestra, photography and stage design. I was able to be bused out of my central Tucson home school boundaries to attend these schools.
Being a Tucson native, I am extremely passionate about our community. I was in Girl Scouts from 1st grade to 12th grade and later, while I lived in Washington D.C., became an assistant leader, working with middle school-aged girls. The scouts offered such phenomenal programs, like horseback riding, backpacking, camping, scout leadership, First-Aid, wilderness survival, business, and travel.
During my elementary and middle school years, I was heavily involved with ballet, jazz and modern dance lessons, as well as with viola lessons. I played viola for about 12 years. In middle and high school, I was chosen to play with the Tucson Junior Strings. Personally, having the opportunity to perform in front of an audience was invaluable. It filled me with such joy to be a part of a group of young artists, expressing themselves. As an adult, I cherish these opportunities.
After going to Utterback Magnet Middle School, I attended Tucson High Magnet School. The following four years were exceptional. Imagine the show, “Glee!” During that time, I met a group of fantastic friends from diverse backgrounds, who I still keep in touch with today. I also took a variety of classes, including astronomy, German, modern dance, AP English, AP Government, and Marine Biology.
I was awarded an academic scholarship to the University of Arizona. At this point, I already knew the campus extremely well, since Tucson High is basically across the street. And my high school provided us with multiple opportunities to see musicals at Centennial Hall, participate in Science Days for Tucson youth, etc. Plus, I had the opportunity to participate in the UofA’s Museum of Art middle school docent program. During that time, I learned about all of the masterpieces in their permanent collection, prepping to potentially lead small groups of visitors around the museum.
My college experience was fantastic and provided me with essential, lifelong tools to succeed in the world. I was initially an Evolutionary Biology and Ecology major. I have always been passionate about nature and our environment. However, after taking numerous studio art and art education classes, I completely fell in love with Art Education as my major. This career trajectory was inspirational and exciting because it would allow me to foster a child’s creativity.
My first job after graduation was in the Sunnyside Unified School District at Los Ninos Elementary School. It was a challenging and rewarding job. Most of my students came from difficult home situations. This fact made my art classes an even more valuable commodity for my population. Based on my experience, art seems to heal and be a very therapeutic tool.
After a few years in Sunnyside, I decided to move to Seattle, Washington. To this day, I absolutely love that city and the Pacific Northwest. During those three years, I led the Boys & Girls Club art department and created a large, colorful mural with the help of 1st grade through high school-aged students. This mural was across a small street from a retirement center. The joy it provided to the residents was profound.
After three years, I then moved to the Washington D.C. area. The east coast was foreign to me and it was exciting to live in a new area of the country. During my time there, I was able to enjoy all of the museums, substitute teach art education and teach art for one year at Flora Singer Elementary School. Montgomery County School District is one of the best in the country. That experience was incredible. I was also able to learn more about my trade, participate in conferences and workshops and collaborate with exceptional educators.
Fast forward to 2016! I moved back to Tucson and was able to land an incredible art teaching career in Vail at Esmond Station. I think I have a dream job! It’s great to be back home. I love hiking, camping, backpacking and going to local restaurants. My favorite part of living in Tucson is enjoying the local artwork, murals and the beautiful desert landscape. And being back with my family! Currently, I am creating large desert landscape paintings and creating clay sculptures.