It’s hard to imagine that teachers have their own lives and passions outside of the school setting. It’s even harder to imagine them jamming out to Led Zeppelin, creating entire cartoons and comic books or even taking beautiful photos of nature in action. Teachers have talents too and it’s time to recognize them.
Supporting students emotionally and educationally is a talent guidance counselor Matthew Baumgartner is familiar with. However, outside of school, Baumgartner’s area of expertise is performing rock music.
“I started playing in 1996 with three of my close friends. We started out playing covers of classic rock bands like Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin and others,” bassist and guitarist Baumgartner said of his band Rare Dirt.
Music, especially when played with close friends, is an opportunity for one to communicate their feelings. Though Baumgartner said the band has only played once in the last five years, a community of creativity and free expression was established that remains today.
“The guys I play with have become best friends over the years and just being around them makes me feel creative. I feel most creative when we are improvising because we can take the music anywhere we want to, and it never gets boring,” Baumgartner said.
Baumgartner is not the only staff member who has used music to express themselves. He also had a “one-gig band” that included other faculty members familiar to the student body.
“I had the opportunity to jam with Mr. Smith and Mr. Saiben over the summer playing acoustic guitar to bands like Tom Petty and Wilco,” Baumgartner said.
Photography is capturing moments in time that fascinate the photographer, moments of which represent the photographer’s perspective. One photographer in particular, AP Environmental Science and Anatomy teacher Jessica Timmons, demonstrates her unique view on the world through her passion for photography.
“With photography, I like that it’s a way to capture and freeze time. We’re all so busy and don’t take the time to stop and observe our surroundings. My work typically consists of nature because I love being outdoors and photographing something that catches my eye,” Timmons said.
Being an expert isn’t necessary to create beautiful art, which Timmons knows through firsthand experience. She took her favorite photo while she was still an amateur.
“I took a photography class in high school, and I had to use my dad’s camera from 1978, which had to be manually adjusted for everything. I took a picture of the Grand Canyon over winter break. It was partly cloudy which created beautiful shadows,” Timmons said.
Sometimes these passions can lead to careers outside of the school for staff members. Art teacher Stephanie Forney answers her artistic calling not only through teaching students, but also through creating comic books with her husband.
“I do a little bit of writing, drawing and coloring for comics. I also draw professionally—doing traditional drawings in pastel and charcoal. I'm currently working on a children's book, comic book series and a couple larger pastel drawings. For the comic book work, I co-created a character and wrote a series called ‘Scarlet Huntress,’” Forney said.
For Forney, drawing and writing outside of the school setting is useful as an outlet for emotions that have built throughout the day. However, she said that everybody can benefit from creating art.
“Teaching is amazing, but just like students needing an outlet for creativity, teachers need one too. Drawing helps me calm down, refocus my energy and take a step away from my busy, hectic and sometimes overwhelming life,” Forney said.