Journeys of art teachers: how they got here


Jake Klugerman
profiles editor

Teachers in the art department all specialize in a specific skill and they all have backgrounds in their subject matter. They have been all been involved in the arts for extended amounts of time, some of them since the young age of three. Their experiences contribute to what they teach their students.

For music teacher Keith Schwartz, his passion for music started here when he was a student. “I am a graduate of Wootton, I was in chorus all four years, I was in the Supertonics, and then I went to college and grad school for voice, so all my education was around music,” Schwartz said.

It was not until grad school that Schwartz connected his love of music with a desire to teach. Than good timing gave him the opportunity to teach where his love of music originated. “In grad school, I started giving lessons to undergraduate students and realized I liked teaching. I had stayed close to my high school choir teacher here, so I reached out to her, and it just so happened that she was switching to ESOL so I took her place,” Schwartz said.

Theater teacher Jessica Speck developed her love of the stage through school productions. “In middle school we had plays, and in high school I did all the plays and took theater class. Then I double majored in theater and education,” Speck said.

For Speck, a family background of teaching gave her the idea of combining her passions of theater and teaching. “I was tutoring some friends in college and it occurred to me that my grandmother had done a lot of teaching and it could be something that I could do, combining my love of helping people and theater,” Speck said.

Studio Art teacher Jessica Coleman discovered her passion for art at a much younger age. “I have been drawing since age three. I always loved it, and I can not remember doing anything else,” Coleman said.

Coleman was influenced by some of the art teachers she had when she was in school. “ I took art all through middle and high school and I had one of the best art teachers in Montgomery County. I had art class all afternoon, and he pointed me to the right place to go to college. I went to American University and I had the best teachers ever, and I loved the program,” Coleman said.

Coleman’s love for art was also impacted by the chance to live in Europe for a large portion of her childhood. “I lived in Europe for a lot of my growing up so I saw a lot of wonderful art by wonderful artists all over Europe,” Coleman said.

Being an art teacher was not on Coleman’s radar until she was in graduate school. “I never set out to be a teacher, I just wanted to study what I loved. When I was at Penn State in graduate school, I taught undergraduate students and discovered I loved teaching,” Coleman said.