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Timmy Rodriguez

K-8 Art Teacher at Chandler Woods Charter Academy in Belmont, MI


2013 graduate

I've always been an artist, I just didn't know how I


could fit that into a "career". One day, after studying film and
history in college, I realized I should have studied Art the
whole time. Art, and I say Art as a wide array of mediums
(2D, 3D to writing to music), is the only thing that has ever
made 100% complete sense to me.

I had a few doubts. I was a quiet, introverted college student


when I started. So Cindy Todd scared the hell out of me. I
almost switched majors because she took me out of my
comfort zone so much. But it was through her pushing me
out of my comfort zone and the guidance and mind(styles)
of Donna St. John and Peggy DePersia that I found myself
as a teacher. Also having awesome professors like Gypsy Schindler and Boyd Quinn helped as
well.

I certainly cherish my time in undergrad with all my education professors, but I spent the most
time under Donna St. John. She opened my eyes beyond expectations on what a teacher is,
and most importantly, what I could be as a teacher. I was pushed to the absolute max in that
program but I saw myself become something more than I ever could have imagined. Anyone to
have those ladies in that program teach you, you are certainly blessed.

I still teach my classroom expecting Donna or Cindy to pop in and critique me. 5 years teaching
and I still expect it.

Q: What are some unexpected challenges you’ve run into/things you feel unprepared for/things
you can’t learn in the classroom?
Learning the management styles and the theory behind it is one thing. But putting the entire
practice into motion is something you have to learn yourself. You can't learn how to be a
teacher from someone, you have to learn yourself. You watch other teachers and listen to these
theories and practices, then you pick and choose which ones work for you the best. It is literally
being thrown to the sharks when you are a first year teacher. It is up to you to be successful.

Q: What do you wish you had done/hadn’t done while at KCAD?


I wish I would have been more involved with the program. I met a lot of cool people while there,
but ultimately I wouldn't change anything. Everything worked out perfectly.

Q: What advice would you give incoming freshmen? soon-to-be- graduates?


Freshman, get ready. It sucks, but it is also awesome. Best of both worlds, but the positive
outweighs everything else. Graduates, always remember the students are what’s most
important. Not you. If you get grumpy, learn to get over it. There is nothing worse than a burnt
out teacher.

Q: What was your interview process like?


The first interview was really scary. Luckily, I only had one or two before I had a job. The last
one I did for this job was laid back, I just was me.

Q: What was it like to take over a classroom from another teacher?


I've done it a couple times. I always remember the story Donna told about getting a job and
throwing the other teachers old lessons out immediately. I did that. It was awesome.

Q: What was it like your first year in your classroom?


Crazy, hectic. I decided to get married that year as well, so double whammy.

Q: What’s the best thing about teaching?


Every day is a different thing, no two days are the same.
Marissa (Carter) Krantz
full time art teacher in the Needham, MA public schools
2008 graduate

I’m a native of Boston, MA where I now work and live.


I started at Savannah College of Art and Design. I was
at KCAD from my sophomore year on.

As a child, I always loved creating; crafts, drawing


painting. As I grew, I made an assumption that I had no
skill as an artist. In HS I got in involved (outside of
school) in graphic/ web design. The love of creation
had stayed with me. I had a teacher who encouraged
me to not be afraid of drawing (vs. tech) so I enrolled in
a summer program at the Art Institute of Boston. What I
learned through professors at AIB, is that art is
teachable and learnable. This is the moment I knew I
wanted to be an art teacher. I happily continued saturday school there til my HS graduation.

I am an full time at teacher in the Needham, MA public schools. My work history after KCAD
includes the following: I made a brief stop in GA, but I’m now back home in Boston. I was a sub
in my hometown for a few weeks, then a SPED Instructional Assistant for a year and a half.
Then I was a long term sub in an MA burb for an art teacher in Grades 6-8. This landed me in
my forever home in Needham, MA where I started out teaching 0.70 sixth grade art (our building
is one of two in the country that teaches just sixth grade). I was getting my masters at Boston
University and planning my wedding so I was totally ok being .7 (our contract gives full HMO
benefits at .5).Over the years I grew an arts integration program through grants funded by the
Needham Education Foundation. I did two pilot cycles starting with the social studies
department. Eventually, it was opened up to the whole staff and three years later I am a full time
art teacher and integration specialist that collaborates with almost everyone in my building. The
program is fully funded by the district.

Q: What were some of the best parts of your KCAD experience, and of the Art Ed program that
helped you get the job you have? What helps you day-to-day?
I came to MI by the way of MA and GA and I knew no one. I still make a point to revisit MI
annually to see friends and enjoy the gorgeous coast. Michigan was the ideal college
experience for me, The Art Ed program definitely helped me get the job I want. It was rigorous,
and Cindy made sure you wanted to be there, which trumps any other prerequisite. I loved that
it was challenging and I heard strong feedback about my personality that helped me as a job
candidate, wife and mother. Also, working at a SPED Instructional Assistant was super valuable
experience. I collected the data the IEPs were written with and learned how to support kids who
will arrive in the art classroom without support (in many states including MA, IEPs do not include
support for “elective” classes). I’m very comfortable working with SPED staff/ students and am
often asked for input when a child is being assessed for services.
Q: What are some unexpected challenges you’ve run into/things you feel unprepared for/things
you can’t learn in the classroom?
I have to say I didn’t feel unprepared. I felt very well prepared which is why I was totally ok with
getting a FB message to answer questions about my college experience. I also collided with my
ex boss (he just retired) who worked in partnership with me to bring more art to the kids, I
always felt supported and compensated. I’m lucky.

Q: What advice would you give incoming freshmen? soon-to-be- graduates?


- See below about parent interactions.
- Don’t be afraid to be a person and a teacher and share what’s appropriate with your
kids.
- eAssessment in the arts is a slippery fish, get in the conversation.

Q: What was it like to take over a classroom from another teacher?


Oh boy, a massive mess? What can I say. Just expect the unexpected. And if you work for five
years and have your classroom looking like a Harvard Archive, kiss that goodbye when you go
on maternity leave.

Q: What was it like your first year in your classroom?


This is a complex question. I think it was often anxiety about grades. I worked in a high
performing district in MA and I had a kid who was failing at the midterm of first quarter. I told my
headmaster and he said, “Figure it out, people don’t fail art here.” It was stressful, especially
because I was asked to teach with someone else’s rubrics. Also, if you can fail math, why “can’t”
you fail art? I also had a student create a painting of violent images so I called home. The
mother informed me she was an attorney and asked me, “Who did the district hire?” and wanted
to know if I was a “real teacher” and she told me our conversation was an “insult and waste of
her time” because I was “an idiot who didn’t know anything”, and those were the nice things she
said. I had an interview for my current job a about an hour after I hung up the phone. I walked to
my principals office and just asked him (while having a few tears) if I was alone in struggling
with this parent, I wasn’t. She had a reputation. This stuff happens, tenfold. I wrote that out
because undergrads should know, you will have some tough nuts to crack, to say the least.

Q: What’s the best thing about teaching?


The best thing about teaching for me is not making a generation of artists. It’s about making
self-aware, critical thinkers, who respect themselves and others. They know their strengths and
weaknesses and feel free to be themselves in whatever they do.

My favorite moment in teaching is when a child raises their hand and I give them a non verbal
sign that I will be with them soon. Once I get there, they brush me off and say, “I figured it out on
my own.” Thank god, kiddo, that’s why you’re here.

Megan Talmage
CA Frost Environmental Science Academy Middle High School in GRPS
Blandford Nature School and Zoo School
Melissa Lauren
Art educator at Saugatuck Elementary and Middle School
2016 graduate

Q: Why did you study Art Education?


I wanted to be in a position where I could make a positive impact on lives as well as
incorporating my love of art.

Q: Were there times you wanted to quit or had doubts?


YES! During school, because of feeling overwhelmed or having to worry about state testing, and
things like that.

Q: What made you want to keep going?


The potential of having my own classroom with my own projects and ideas!

Q: What were some of the best parts of your KCAD experience, and of the Art Ed program that
helped you get the job you have? What helps you day-to-day?
My student teaching placement, and all of the experience in classrooms that we get. The
connections you make through those things are really important.
I still use many of the techniques and management strategies that I learned from various
placements that I had.

Q: What are some unexpected challenges you’ve run into/things you feel unprepared for/things
you can’t learn in the classroom?
Managing materials, it really depends a lot on your classroom and what resources you have
available. Everyone has their own way of doing things and it is hard to figure that out before
you have your own space.

Q: What do you wish you had done/hadn’t done while at KCAD?


I think how I went about my education worked for me. I would have liked to explore with more
studio classes but my schedule did not allow for it.
Q: What advice would you give incoming freshmen?
Stay excited, there will be a lot of challenges but it is worth it in the end.

Q: Soon-to-be- graduates?
The right job will come along eventually, if something does not work out the first time, something
more fitting will come along.

Q: What was your interview process like?


Interviews are always a little scary! Mine wasn’t that bad because I had met most of the
teachers that were in the interview beforehand. You just have to be super prepared with visuals
and things that make you stand out. I practiced a lot and had friends ask me questions that they
commonly ask in interviews.

Q: What was it like to take over a classroom from another teacher?


My experience has been great, I am friends with the last teacher and I talk to her quite a bit
about the way things work. It is a lot of pressure for me because she was an amazing teacher.
It may be different for people who take over for someone who was not as good.

Q: What was it like your first year in your classroom?


I am still in my first year, I had a little extra experience because I long-term subbed in two art
classrooms after I graduated (highly recommend that!).
It is chaos. You will cry and have moments of pure frustration, but I never have days where I
think that it is not worth it. I have to remind myself that it is okay to not be perfect and most
everyone realizes that a new teacher needs time to get it together. I absolutely LOVE what I do,
I always tell myself it will get easier as the years go on.

Q: What’s the best thing about teaching?


Definitely the students. I love building relationships and getting to know them.
I also love the “Crazy Art Teacher” label. I get to play it up as much as I want and it is just
accepted throughout the school, it is great!