She’s Got [#Art] Class

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CAREER: ART TEACHER (CURRENTLY TRAVELING ABROAD!)

Name: Leah Gooch

Age: 30

College & major: SUNY New Paltz, Art Education

Graduate school & concentration: CUNY Brooklyn, Art Education

Previous jobs: Filer in my dad’s medical office, Bus girl, Waitress

Current occupation: Art Teacher

How did you become involved in art education? I always wanted to be a teacher. I used to play “dress up” and teach an imaginary class in my parents’ basement. I also loved coloring and painting so it was a logical college major.

What was your college experience like, and how did it prepare you for your career? The two things that prepared me the most for teaching was waiting tables at the local diner in my hometown and volunteering at a local library in New Paltz, NY. For a few months, every Sunday I would read books to children and do an art project with them. Each time I was incredibly nervous. Later, I realized that it was the best practice for the “real deal.”

What steps do you have to take to become an art teacher? I used art to understand the world around me and I innately want to share the things I learn. Once I started teaching I realized that the art of teaching was an entirely different beast, and I have spent the last eight years in New York City trying to enjoyably tackle the obstacles that arise.  

However, during the past, year yoga became a new form of personal therapy so I decided to take a leave of absence and move to Peru for a yoga teacher training for six months.

What do you love most about your profession? In my classroom a quote by Henri Matisse hangs on the back wall, and is the largest sign in the room. It says, “Genius is just childhood one can return to at will.” I have the privilege of fostering an environment in which that genius is displayed through visual art.  

What advice would you give to girls considering a career in the arts? Observe as many art teachers as you can. Take what you like, and leave the rest. Continue to practice yourself. You must remember why what you are teaching is important.

What would you wear to a job interview? Something that makes you feel comfortable and confident.

Any favorite websites particular to your field (or ones you just love for fun)? I go to museums and galleries to gain inspiration for projects and then research artists on the computer by reading articles and watching interviews or biographical movies.

Here are two valuable resources: Art21 via PBS and Harvard’s Project Zero, specifically topics in art design.

Looking back, what general life advice would you give to your former high-school self? Meditate for at least five minutes a day in the morning, before reading, listening to music, or eating.  

Any other words of wisdom? Before going on an interview for a job, find out the top ten questions asked for interviews for that type of job, and film yourself answering those questions.

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