This article was written by Alicen LaPerle, a student in the U-32 Journalism class. This piece is part of a new series, Familiar Faces.
Adrian Wade-Keeney can almost always be found in the pottery studio. Today she is sitting at one of the tables in the studio with two of her students who are taking an independent study focusing on pottery. Annora Sylvester is sculpting a small statue of a man. She has a drawing next to her and Adrian is there to help and give advice. “Look at those hips. They’re happening” Adrian says as Annora continues to work on sculpting the lower half of her figure.
Adrian has been a teacher at U32 for 10 years. She has had one full TA that she had from 7th to 12th grade and her current TA group is sophomores.
“I’d been out of college for a couple years and realized I wanted to teach” She then got a job at NECI (New England Culinary Institute) and taught students how to “run the front of the house” and “communicate with the kitchen and customers.” After realizing it was teaching that she loved she decided to go back to school for it.
Adrian had a concentration in art and pottery and drawing and then went back to school at UVM to get her teaching certification. Not long after she got her certification, Barbra, who had been the pottery teacher at U32 for more than 30 years was retiring. “How fitting, it was like fate” Adrian applied and got the job. “I don’t know why but they must have liked you.”
Annora Sylvester working on her sculpture of a man in the pottery studio.
“I get to do exactly what I want all day, which is hanging out with kids. Make art play with clay.” She says that one of the big ideas she gets to go home with every night is the idea that “[she has] gotten to witness how students are inspired and become pretty much addicted to the craft of pottery.”
“I feel like kids have changed… there’s like a maturity that gets greater every year.” She explains how she thinks students mature every year and gain an understanding of the world. “Just like the beginning of art. The Egyptians made profile artwork … That’s all they knew how to do.” Over time the Egyptians evolved and taught each new generation more and more and their artwork got more advanced.
Something that changes when you are an art teacher is the way you view the world, “It’s like beauty and it’s all around us. It’s can be like the reason to just keep going and doing things and inspiring others and I feel like that’s a really huge lesson that you can take with you forever in a really cheesy way.”
One of Adrian’s favorite things about being a teacher here at U32 is the relationships she forms with students and seeing them evolve and change over time. “A student comes in, walks into my room for the first time, sits down, and I have a perception of that individual.”
Adrian Wade-Keeney trimming a mug on the wheel.
“He takes up space… I have a perception of him and he has a perception of me.” And over the course of the year, or a semester, or even a class period, those ideas and perceptions will change and develop.
Not only do the relationships between students and teachers change over time but there are also changes in staffing and the available classes. Amy K used to be one of the main art teachers and then changed positions to be a pilot teacher.**explain what pilot is** Now there were only three art teachers including Adrian. This caused a loss of variety in the art classes that U32 could offer to students. But U32 still has a strong art department with classes specializing in photography, painting, pottery, and drawing.
Three wheel thrown pieces made by Adrian.
“I feel like I was really scared in high school” Adrian attended a Co-ed high school for two years, then went to an all-girls school for the rest of high school and college.
She says that she would tell her younger self to “lighten up and stop doing stupid stuff.”
“I take things very seriously. I’m a very sensitive person” Adrian then says how she felt like she flew under the radar when she was in school. “I was the younger one… my sister was the smart one.” One of the first people that Adrian really remembers telling her that she was smart was Steven Dellinger Pate, our principal.
Adrian remembers thinking when she was younger that she could not wait to be an adult. “I cannot wait. And I still feel that way, I don’t want to be a kid again.” Now as an adult and a teacher of ten years, Adrian says that she would “tell my early 30s self that it just keeps getting better.”
Adrian’s signature on the bottom of a mug.