Classroom Spotlight for Mrs. Gaglio

By Sofia Winer

Mrs. Gaglio (A.K.A Mrs. G) teaches all levels of Studio Art, humanities, AP Art History, all levels of Photography, and Women’s Studies. She has taught at Shorecrest for 20 years, and her first dark room was the shower where the dogs from the greyhound racing were washed. Mrs. Gaglio earned her undergraduate at Colorado College, her master’s in fine art at Colorado State University, and her master’s in education at Harvard. Mrs. G’s classes focus on improving art skills, as well as allowing her students to see art in a different perspective, which she has done an excellent job in. I had the delightful opportunity to take her introduction to studio art class this year, which has been an outstanding experience. The studio art classes range from painting murals, to linoleum block printing, to charcoal, to portraits, etc., which is a form of therapy during your stressful school day. Mrs. G loves to spend time following up with her students, and she likes making sure no one is jumping out windows while she’s gone… She’s one of the most down to earth teacher’s at Shorecrest, and if I were asked the question: “Who is your favorite teacher?”, I would immediately respond with Mrs. G, a role model of mine. 

All over her classroom, Mrs. Gaglio hangs up inspirational quotes, paintings, photographs, plants, and practically anything else aesthetically pleasing you can think of. Her decorations add to the creative atmosphere, and if during class you need inspiration, all you need to do is look at the closest wall. 

I had the pleasure of asking Mrs. G a few questions about her classes and COVID protocols:

What are your COVID protocols for keeping your students safe?

“Well, it has been very interesting. For me, I always wore a double mask and shield before receiving both Covid shots. Then, for the classroom, we did plastic dividers between the units to help protect the kids. We opened the windows all the time and had fans turned on, so trying to keep as much fresh air circulating as possible to keep everyone as healthy as possible. It was a strange thing because with what I do, you know because you’re in my class, you’re talking to people, or you’re picking up their pencil, or you’re teaching them how to paint, but currently you’re not able to do that and stay six feet away. You had to come to terms with the fact that you had to be as careful as you possibly could be. I’ve washed my hands thousands of times, as well as sprayed my hands with alcohol, and that’s now what you have to do to stay safe.”

What assignments do you believe are the most challenging for your students?

“I believe the thing my students find most challenging is how you are bombarded with images. With what I do, you’re surrounded by them, whether it’s on your phone, or any type of social media, and things along that nature. You’re constantly bombarded, and so the idea of creativity and doing your own thing that you care about, I believe it must be difficult and challenging now because you see so much. And so when someone turns around and states, ‘I want you to make something that is just originally yours’, that’s hard. We spend more time now consuming others’ work than creating our own, generally speaking. Before, people spent more time drawing, thinking, and writing about creation. Now, people don’t do that quite as much, I don’t believe, as they used too. It becomes more of a challenge because people want you to tell them what to do, or they want to copy someone else. And so it’s difficult to get them to say ‘now I want it to be yours’. As we move through the different levels of the class, by the time you get to AP it has to be yours, and anything that you send to competitions has to be yours. I believe the idea of figuring out your own voice as an artist is the hardest part for my students.”

If you could give one piece of advice to your students, what would it be?

“I don’t feel my job is to create artists. What I feel my job is, because this is not an art school, is for people to get in touch with that part of themselves that can love and appreciate art. Whether they are looking at it and studying it in Art History, or whether they are making it in Studio Art, so, as they get older, and there is an opportunity for them to support a local museum, or to go into a gallery and purchase a work of art, or things like that, whenever that opportunity arises, then they will remember art as something positive. That’s my goal because I desire people to exit my classroom and feel that art is a part of them, and that it’s fun, and that it can be challenging, and that they can learn about themselves from it, and what their limitations are and are not. Many people come in and state ‘I can’t draw’ or ‘I can’t paint’ or ‘I can’t, I can’t, I can’t,’ and I tell them, well, just try. And so that’s my goal, which is for people to see art as something that can be a part of your life, not just when you are in school, but as you go on in your life.”

After having the opportunity to interview Mrs. G, I was also able to interview a few of her students. I asked the questions:

Would you recommend others to take (the class they are in) next year? Why or why not?

What are your thoughts on Mrs. G?

First, I interviewed Avery Manfrey, a 9th grader at Shorecrest. This is her first year with Mrs. G, and she is currently in the introduction to studio art class.

“I would definitely recommend this class to other students interested in getting into art. Studio Art has seriously helped me improve my artistic abilities, and it has also allowed me to try out new styles of art that I hadn’t previously had hands on experience with before. The course is astounding for learning about, as well as getting a hands on experience with art.”

“I really enjoy having Mrs. G as a teacher and look forward to her class. It’s stress free, and it allows the chance for me to relax. She’s an incredible role model, who’s super encouraging about my ideas. I sense like I can always be creative with my thoughts, and she doesn’t give restrictive limits on projects, which is a great quality in any art teacher.” 

I then interviewed Lillie Burkett, a 10th grader at Shorecrest. She has taken studio art with Mrs. G for two years now, and she is currently in advanced studio art.

“Yes, I would highly recommend it. The class is an easy A that you can truly enjoy and get to explore your creativity. Mrs. G is also always open to any idea you have for creating something you love.”

“I’ve known Mrs. G for a long time now because my sisters and I have had her in everything, so she and I had a good connection off the bat. But even if we didn’t know each other, I still would have loved her. She is incredibly sweet, funny, and she always helps someone out with whatever they need the most she can. I also learned a lot from her, even with just two years of art. My art talents have grown tremendously these past two years, and I never would have thought I could be doing what I do now.”

Lastly, I interviewed Isa Steadman, a 10th grader at Shorecrest. She has taken studio art with Mrs. G for two years now, and she is currently in advanced studio art.

“I would recommend that students take Mrs. G’s studio art class next year because of the range of art you’re allowed to pursue– from charcoal, to oil painting, to linoleum blocks, and more. But what makes the class better is that you don’t need to be super skilled, or extremely experienced, in any of those mediums because Mrs. G is a wonderful guide and teacher, so you can still enjoy making art even if it isn’t your biggest strength. It’s also always exciting to see your final piece after working hard on it. Even if it isn’t perfect, the effort you put into your pieces, with the help from Mrs. G, gives you a sense of pride that I believe inspires you either to do better, or to have an experience to look back on. I believe the course is worth taking, and it’s exciting to see your work change, or improve, through your year no matter your skill level.”

“Mrs. G is a wonderful art teacher because of what a passionate and skilled artist she is herself. But more importantly, her ability to apply that same passion towards her students, while helping them grow. It’s always wonderful entering her classroom and immediately being engulfed in her positive attitude and classroom’s atmosphere. It makes it at least a little better, even if you have a project you’re frustrated with that you need to work on. I love that she’s always laughing and connecting with students. It makes it so that you’re not afraid to ask her for help, or any other questions you may have. When it comes to the help she gives students, I appreciate her accurate honesty. She truly does give useful and constructive criticism, showing her years of skill and experience. It’s a great way to learn, and it’s practicing, while being taught, but still being allowed to make mistakes that you grow from as a student. I’m so incredibly glad that Mrs. G is Shorecrest’s studio art teacher because she does truly brighten and welcome the students that enter her class, and it makes me so thankful to be her lucky student.”

I am so grateful to have been able to take Mrs. G’s class this year, and I will continue to do so. Thank you so incredibly much to Mrs. Gaglio, and to the students I was able to interview for this article. 

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