Monthly Member Mondays: Leah Hammond

High five to Leah Hammond (on left), our VATA Art Educator of the Month, from Mt. Abe Middle/High School, Bristol, VT. To learn more about her work and connect with her via social media, check out her interview below!

Where did you grow up and/or how did you know you wanted to become an art educator?
I was blessed to have parents who were both educators.  So early on I had a wonderful model. My mother was even my 7th grade english and social studies teacher.  I had always wanted to be an artist and around the time I entered middle school, I decided that I wanted to become an art teacher.  My high school art teacher, Marsha Muller was also an outstanding role model for me. She inspired me to be an artist who teaches, and truly modeled what in means to be a life long learner.  I’ve been truly lucky to have some outstanding women guiding me, as discovered my own path to becoming an art educator.   

2. What do you teach specifically?

I teach all middle school art classes as well as high school digital photography. If my schedule allows I also teach introductory high school ceramics.

3. What is your favorite medium as an artist?

I wouldn’t say I have a favorite medium, but the two that I’ve always connected most with are photography and painting.  My photography has shifted over the years, right now I’m really into digital and doing commercial jobs, though black and white process always has a special place in my heart.  As for painting I’m into acrylic on canvas, as that’s what I’ve been teaching, but I’d like to get back into encaustics and oils in my own work.

4. I have your IG account (@mtabearts), any other social media accounts you may have? Twitter?

The Mt. Abraham Art Department has an instagram that I manage @mtabarts.  I also have a twitter where I post on a range of topics from education, the arts, to technology integration and what it means to be educated in the 21st century. Twitter @Lbhammond

5. Could you share your thoughts on STEAM and its' importance in 21st century education?I see the fusion of art and technology as critical to a 21st century education, and that STEAM is a vital part of any child’s future.  Students today need art education more than ever, statically divergent thinking skills deprecate as a child progresses through school, yet the jobs they will hold rely on creativity and innovation:  skills that are fostered in the arts and project based learning.  STEAM as well as the New Media Standards provide great resources to help guide educators as we move away from the antiquated industrial model and transform public education to better support our students’ 21st century needs.  I’ve found some great resources through Create, Make, Learn’s summer institute with with Lucy de LaBruere as well as during the process of receiving my second endorsement in technology integration.  

5. Outside of the art room, got any secret loves or talents?

Well…believe it or not I used to be a competitive figure skater.  We moved to Wisconsin from Florida when I was 10 and my parents thought it would give me something to do.  Little did they know it would take over my life, I even used to skate before and after school.  I’ve got a box of metals and pictures of me in pictures of me in sparkly dress hidden someplace in my house.