By Sophia Wang

As a freshman entering East for the first time, the art room was a stark contrast from the rest of the classrooms I’d been in. The walls were covered with artwork and painted signatures of students. Unlike the desks in the other classrooms, we sat around large worn-down tables splattered with colorful paint and various other materials. There were scattered supplies and miscellaneous still life objects covering a metal cabinet. Ms. Wilson’s classroom was exactly what I expected an art room to look like. Aditi Arun, a fellow classmate from AP Art, described the room as well, saying she enjoyed its bright, energetic atmosphere. 

Along with Aditi, I’ve had Ms. Wilson as my art teacher all throughout high school. From Freshman to Senior year, I’ve spent a period every school day, whether it be virtually or presently, in that classroom. Getting to have conversations with friends while working on projects was one of my favorite things about taking art and overtime. I’ve gotten to befriend and learn a lot about the classmates I sat with every day. Through those four years, however, I’ve never gotten to learn much about Ms. Wilson herself until I had the opportunity to interview her.

Ms. Wilson graduated from Williamsville East High School. As a student, something she never expected was to come back to her old high school as a teacher. In fact, the career wasn’t even on her mind. In college, she’d studied for a BFA in painting, but hadn’t persued teaching. That thought had come into her head later and Ms. Wilson recalled it as a sudden thing. “A couple years later it was like this lightbulb went on saying ‘you should be an art teacher,’” she said. She then pursued that idea and after college, looked towards Williamsville for a job. She ended up teaching in the district for just short of thirty years. She spent a year at South, six years at Transit, and for the rest of the time, she settled at East. 

As a child, art was Ms. Wilson’s favorite class in school. She didn’t go to any art classes outside of school, but early on, she was identified by others as one of the “artistic kids”. She was drawn to the subject immediately. Ms. Wilson wasn’t the only artist in her family. Her mother had studied to be an art teacher and her great great grandfather was a painter. Ms. Wilson is grateful that both her parents were supportive of her career, acknowledging the roadblocks that some students faced from parents or other people discouraging them from pursuing art. For students facing those difficulties, her advice was to “try to pursue what you can”. She recalled past students and how there had been “a lot of success stories coming out of Williamsville East”, involving art students following their interests and having successful and fulfilling careers.

Ms. Wilson can’t imagine having a job that she didn’t enjoy. For her, one of the most rewarding things about being a teacher at East is having the chance to connect with her students and to see their personalities and talents. She spoke about some memorable art pieces from past students, saying, “when you see the combination of talent and motivation…it’s incredible what you can do when you have that drive to succeed.”

Over the years, Ms. Wilson has done a lot to help her students develop as artists. When I asked Aditi about how Ms. Wilson helped her improve her skills, she mentioned that Ms. Wilson has consistently pushed her to develop her own style and refine her technique. “She has a keen eye for detail, and especially has helped me form a good sense of composition,” Aditi said. She “most enjoyed art class because it was one of the few classes where [she could work standing up or sitting down.” She also enjoyed the freedom that Ms. Wilson gave her students. I’d agree with that as well. Many class periods were dedicated to time to work on projects. In the rest of the classes, Ms. Wilson taught students how to use materials such as acrylic paint, pastel, clay, and watercolor, and led critiques where students looked at each other’s pieces, giving each other feedback on ways they could be improved. 

Outside of school, Ms. Wilson enjoys spending time at her house in Canada. Her grandfather bought the house in 1949, and it was passed down to her from her mother. As a child, she’d moved a lot, so for her, the cottage was a “constant”, somewhere she’d been going to for her whole life. When she was younger, Ms. Wilson would go water skiing and swimming in the river. After inheriting the house, she did a large renovation and changed it to a four season home. Out of curiosity, I asked her if she’d made any artwork to decorate the house. Ms. Wilson said she didn’t, but that she did work on painting some of the furniture there. Because of her job and other things she’s had to do, she didn’t have the time to work on her own artwork. After retirement, however, she looks forward to being able to spend more time on that. 

Ms. Wilson’s time as a teacher at East is coming to an end. Once she retires, she looks forward to moving somewhere with a warmer climate and volunteering her time to the cause of animal welfare, something she cares a lot about. Ms. Wilson has contributed a lot to the Art Department at East and she will be missed.

Along with Aditi, I’ve had Ms. Wilson as my art teacher all throughout high school. From Freshman to Senior year, I’ve spent a period every school day, whether it be virtually or presently, in that classroom. Getting to have conversations with friends while working on projects was one of my favorite things about taking art and overtime, I’ve gotten to befriend and learn a lot about the classmates I sat with every day. Through those four years, however, I’ve never gotten to learn much about Ms. Wilson herself until I had the opportunity to interview her.

Ms. Wilson graduated from Williamsville East High School. As a student, something she never expected was to come back to her old high school as a teacher. In fact, the career wasn’t even on her mind. In college, she’d studied for a BFA in painting, but hadn’t persued teaching. That thought had come into her head later and Ms. Wilson recalled it as a sudden thing. “A couple years later it was like this lightbulb went on saying ‘you should be an art teacher,’” She said. She then pursued that idea and after college, looked towards Williamsville for a job. She ended up teaching in the district for just short of thirty years. She spent a year at South, six years at Transit, and for the rest of the time, she settled at East. 

As a child, art was Ms. Wilson’s favorite class in school. She didn’t go to any art classes outside of school, but early on, she was identified by others as one of the “artistic kids”. She was drawn to the subject immediately. Ms. Wilson wasn’t the only artist in her family. Her mother had studied to be an art teacher and her great great grandfather was a painter. Ms. Wilson is grateful that both her parents were supportive of her career, acknowledging the roadblocks that some students faced from parents or other people discouraging them from pursuing art. For students facing those difficulties, her advice was to “try to pursue what you can”. She recalled past students and how there had been “a lot of success stories coming out of Williamsville East”, involving art students following their interests and having successful and fulfilling careers.

Ms. Wilson can’t imagine having a job that she didn’t enjoy. For her, one of the most rewarding things about being a teacher at East is having the chance to connect with her students and to see their personalities and talents. She spoke about some memorable art pieces from past students, saying, “when you see the combination of talent and motivation…it’s incredible what you can do when you have that drive to succeed.”

Over the years, Ms. Wilson has done a lot to help her students develop as artists. When I asked Aditi about how Ms. Wilson helped her improve her skills, she mentioned that Ms. Wilson has consistently pushed her to develop her own style and refine her technique. “She has a keen eye for detail, and especially has helped me form a good sense of composition,” Aditi said. She “most enjoyed art class because it was one of the few classes where (she) could work standing up or sitting down”. She also enjoyed the freedom that Ms. Wilson gave her students. I’d agree with that as well. Many class periods were dedicated to time to work on projects. In the rest of the classes, Ms. Wilson taught students how to use materials such as acrylic paint, pastel, clay, and watercolor, and led critiques where students looked at each other’s pieces, giving each other feedback on ways they could be improved. 

Outside of school, Ms. Wilson enjoys spending time at her house in Canada. Her grandfather bought the house in 1949, and it was passed down to her from her mother. As a child, she’d moved a lot, so for her, the cottage was a “constant”, somewhere she’d been going to for her whole life. When she was younger, Ms. Wilson would go water skiing and swimming in the river. After inheriting the house, she did a large renovation and changed it to a four season home. Out of curiosity, I asked her if she’d made any artwork to decorate the house. Ms. Wilson said she didn’t, but that she did work on painting some of the furniture there. Because of her job and other things she’s had to do, she didn’t have the time to work on her own artwork. After retirement, however, she looks forward to being able to spend more time on that. 

Ms. Wilson’s time as a teacher at East is coming to an end. Once she retires, she looks forward to moving somewhere with a warmer climate and volunteering her time to the cause of animal welfare, something she cares a lot about. Ms. Wilson has contributed a lot to the Art Department at East and she will be missed.

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