Michael Eder, Art Teacher

Q: How many years have you been at BCCS? What different roles have you played for the school since you joined the team?

A: I joined the school in 1999, its second year. I've always been the art teacher. I started with art in a cart, part time. It was once a week for fifth through eighth grade. It's grown from there. My second year, I got a sink, and then an art room. The arts have become an important priority at the school, mostly because of the work of the Art Council in the early years. It was a group of teachers that believed the arts should have a solid place in the school, even though its main focus is academic.

Q: How and why did you first enter the education world? Did you always know that you would be in education?

A: In college, I would volunteer at community arts programs. I then organized mural projects in different neighborhoods in New York, New Orleans, New Mexico - those were the beginnings of my teaching. BCCS was my first traditional teaching job. I wanted to teach because I loved kids - their energy, their excitement, their insecurity that you can guide them through as a teacher. I love giving them art. Art is such a different experience. There are no answers. There are no right ways to do things. But it connects to so many different abilities that everyone has.

Q: Why did you join BCCS?

After the interview, I felt it was an exciting opportunity where I could have an impact and play a big part in how the arts might play a role in the school, given how new it was.

Q: How does BCCS compare to other work experiences you have had?

A: I get more satisfaction here because I get it from the kids on a regular basis. They say thank you all the time. They show how effective I am as a teacher, as a worker. I get it by the dozens. It's not just the occasional boss saying you're doing great work. The feedback is really high quality, and there's a lot of support.

Q: You have seen the school change during your time here. What have been the most important changes?

A: I think the development of the leadership team - the principals, the Executive Director, the Dean of Curriculum - has been huge. The school has always had strong camaraderie between teachers, but the overall structure was initially dependent on an individual or a smaller group. To see it evolve in to a more self-sustaining team structure gives more support, confidence, and security to teachers.

Q: What has not changed?

A: The hard work, the focus on behavior and discipline, the energy of the staff, and the encouragement of the staff to come up with new ways of teaching.

Q: What are the most important lessons you try to teach your students as an art teacher?

A: I try to teach them to make an effort, to treat each other well, to find what they love, and to be hungry to move ahead in whatever that is. Art opens up all kinds of abilities that aren't always used otherwise. It gives a huge amount of self-satisfaction, no matter what a student's level is.

Q: What has kept you at BCCS?

A: I think the ability to create and build an arts program reaches music and dance and theater - all the arts. And my colleagues - it's their excitement for teaching and for reaching kids and for working in a school. Also, the success of the students makes me proud and happy to be a part of it.

Q: What makes your work meaningful?

A: I think it's the ability to constantly find new ways to teach art. It's the constant change in how I teach and what I teach in order to communicate the basics of art. And the constant feedback from the students of how excited and proud they are and how much they grow.

Q: 20 years from now, how do you think you'll describe your experience teaching at BCCS?

A: It's very dynamic, exciting. It's kept me very open as an artist myself to ideas and energy and interest. I think that role of being an artist and a teacher has been a big reason why I've loved working here. For reasons I'm not sure, I've been able to be very productive as an artist while being a teacher. In many subtle ways, the school has supported me as an artist as well as a teacher.

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