April 5, 2018

Friends School Names Bryn Pennington as our New Art Teacher

Friends new art teacher Bryn Pennington
The following photos are examples of
the work Bryn's previous students have created.
It is with great pride and pleasure that I let you know that we have hired Bryn Pennington as our next art teacher at Friends School.  Bryn is a parent at our school, has been our long-time sub in 2nd grade since January and had already been named interim art teacher for late April until the end of the school year. Now she will be here teaching K-8 art permanently beginning in August.

Although we knew and loved Bryn’s work, we cast a wide search for a new art teacher so that we could be confident in bringing the very best teacher to our students. Our hiring committee read more than a dozen complete applications, met eight semi-finalists, many of whom were very strong candidates, and brought finalists on campus for demo lessons and in-depth interviews.  Bryn’s interview, portfolio and student lesson far surpassed all other candidates and exceeded our expectations with her richness of experience, her passion for teaching art, her connection to Friends School’s teaching philosophy, and her desire to integrate art into all aspects of school life.

Bryn is a credentialed, experienced elementary classroom teacher with several years experience teaching K-5 art. She holds an M.A. in curriculum and instruction from San Jose State University.

The rest of this article showcases Bryn’s own words, which will give you a better sense of who she is as an art teacher and why she is such a great fit for our school.  Congratulations to Bryn, and thank you to our hiring committee for their excellent work: Mandy Stepanovsky, Shelby Pawlina, Erika Norman and parents Thom Teten and Kaelin Kelly. Honor Taft was also included in our process.

Here’s Bryn…

Dear Friends,

I am thrilled to become part of the Friends School faculty as Art Teacher for next school year. When I toured Friends' School in the Spring of 2016, both Harper and I LOVED what we saw in the Art Room -- vibrant, lovingly created works of art, the utilization of diverse media, culturally rich and relevant work, the intense focus and happiness of students at their work.  

I feel the potential for the Art Studio program at Friends School is limitless. So many families are passionate about the arts at our school. Parent involvement and new community arts opportunities are two of my goals to develop for next school year.

I bring lessons developed over years of teaching in both the elementary and arts setting, lessons that echo the mission of Friends School. Here are two examples of what to expect next year. First, 
Peace Angels are a project inspired by artist Lin Evola, who melts down guns and weapons of war, recasting them as huge sculptural angels who carry messages of peace. As my 5th graders learned about her work, they decided peace may begin with self-forgiveness. So, while sculpting their peace figure, they wrote messages about something they needed forgiveness for, and placed them inside their figure. These messages burned away in the kiln, an invitation to personal transformation. 
In a second project called Storyboxes, student partners shared a powerful personal story. After learning about the art of Joseph Cornell, students created a mixed media “storybox” that represented their partner’s story in non-literal ways. Students then exchanged their storyboxes, and shared how they interpreted important elements of each story. Such deep listening and creating a gift of art to give to a friend invited trust, respect and care into the class communities. 
From these two examples, I hope you can see my three main art studio goals. First, to teach students the skills and techniques of diverse media; second, to use the arts as a medium for social emotional learning and community building; and third to offer children opportunities to communicate their important ideas about the world in a creative way.
The art studio offers a venue to realize the Friends School mission of head, hand and heart. I can't wait to be part of each student's journey into the arts. What an incredible honor to be part of this flourishing school community. 

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