I grew up in Birmingham, attending Mountain Brook schools and Birmingham-Southern College. I worked in the arts for 15 years following college as a professional puppeteer, picture framer, gallery manager, freelance artist, museum professional, and in wholesale and retail art sales and framing. These opportunities contributed to and enhanced my knowledge and awareness of the visual arts, and the friendships I established in the arena have accordingly served me in my profession. Having taught since the age of 13 in one capacity or another, it was a logical progression for me to return to school to obtain my Master's Degree and certification in teaching!
I have taught all levels from pre-K through adult education. This will be my 10th year at Thompson Middle and my 13th year in Shelby County. I previously taught at Oak Mountain Intermediate and Elementary schools and in Pell City, Hoover City, and Huntsville City schools in Alabama, as well as Temple Middle School in Carroll County, Georgia.
I love Art and I love to teach!
Mountain Brook High School
Birmingham-Southern College Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting
British Studies at Oxford, UK 18th Century British Art and Social History Studies
Student of Birmingham Portrait Artist Billy Wilson
Student of Birmingham Artist Les Yarbrough
UAB Certificate Course in Advertising and Public Relations
University of Montevallo MA.Ed. Art Education Coursework
Univerity of Alabama in Birmingham MA.Ed. Art Education, Concentration in Painting
I grew up in Birmingham near Cahaba Heights. My dad was a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine and my mom was a domestic engineer who occasionally assisted with my dad's practice as a receptionist (as my siblings and I did). My dad loved the arts and had a deep appreciation for the beauty of all things. He enjoyed painting as an intern in New Orleans but did not pursue it due to the demands of his practice. His mother (my grandmother) taught him, his two brothers, and sister to sew, because she did not want her sons going off to war and not being able to sew a button back on their uniforms.
Dad was an exceptional quiltmaker and an avid gardener, and delighted in exploring color palettes both in his planting and his sewing. He was also an avid historian and genealogist and belonged to many local and state historical societies. And in all these endeavors, he delighted in mentoring and teaching others about his knowledge and skills. So I guess you could say that I inherited his love of art, of history, and of learning.
Mom was an immaculate housekeeper who loved design and decor. One can step into the Art Room (or my home for that matter) and tell that I am not an immaculate housekeeper, however I do have an interest in interior design. I admit it - I'm an HGTV Junkie.
When the first medicine to treat hyperactivity was developed, my mom cut the article out of the paper, drove all the way to my dad's office, and walked in flailing the article in the air and saying, "Why didn't you TELL me this is what's wrong with Claire?!" It seems I was extremely mellow and non-participatory while at school. I had a comprehension problem - I would read 15 books a week, but if you asked me right after I read one what it was about - well, I couldn't tell you.
My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Arello, and my 6th grade teacher, Ms. Sue Vance, bless their souls, stayed after school with me on many, many days to give me extra special help....whereas once I got HOME -well, that was another thing entirely. I was bouncing off the walls...non-stop....couldn't settle down - couldn't go to sleep. This went on for YEARS. Bless my dear mom for putting up with me.
Waaayyy back in middle school ("junior high" back then), I was bullied. A classmate in my riding group to school would put gum in my hair on every day that I happened to sit in the front seat on the way to school, and she in the back. The rest of my neighbors in the car were too terrified of this classmate to say or do anything. I was late for first period at school on most days because I was in the restroom trying to pull all of the gum out of my hair.
In high school I was a "non-person." I did not participate in any activities outside of classes and had few friends I could relate to. They tended to be all older or younger than I, and members of my church youth group. When I attended Birmingham-Southern College, I "blossomed," becoming very involved in campus activities such as student government, the Art Club, the Greek system, and the college theatre. The campus enrollment at the time was lower than here at TMS - if you didn't know everyone, you knew who everyone was. I was fortunate to obtain a full scholarship abroad to study at Oxford in England, where I concentrated my learning on the Art and Social History of 18th Century Britain for a summer.
My dad and older sister were killed in a car accident in October of 2008, following my mom's death in 2006. I have never married, however I have a son, Studley (cat). My mom (were she not cremated), would be rolling in her grave knowing that I brought a long-hair black cat into her home with the off-white, wall-to-wall carpet. When asked if I have any children - I always claim in addition to Studley that I have 960 of them (depending how our numbers fluctuate at TMS). I enjoy describing Studley's daily antics to my students.
I relate this personal history simply because when you have experienced the very things that affect many of your students, and that they live through every single day, both at home and at school, and these things tend to be universal situations - well it tends to give you some insight into their own lives - struggles - experiences - and it increases the empathy that you have for each and every one of them.