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In high school, every student makes a life-altering decision. They embark upon a path from which there is little chance of coming back. You see, they decide their major. Some choose to go into science, while others choose business or education. All the teachers at Earl of March made their decision to teach. Let’s look at Ms. D'Alessandro’s - one of Earl’s amazing art teachers - journey into teaching.

Choosing Her Path

It all started at Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School, when Ms. Frances D'Alessandro realized that after filling up her courses with the “requirements” (Math, Science and English), she had very little space left for the classes she loved - gym and art.

However, after realizing that she already participated on a lot of the sports teams such as soccer and volleyball, she decided to fill her timetable with art.

In Ms. D’Alessandro’s last year of high school, it dawned on her that “students who really love biology were going on to do biology, students who love math were going to do math...what I really love to do is art”.

With her parents fully supporting her decision, Ms. D began her journey majoring in the Fine Arts at the University of Ottawa

Journey In OttawaU

Throughout her four years at OttawaU, Ms. D’Alessandro had a blast. She had many wonderful experiences, including learning how to weld, use an impact drill, learning to draw from “real life” by way of models and real skeletons, and develop film using chemicals and dark rooms. In her last year of school, she prepared to be a lawyer.

When selecting her courses, Ms. D’Alessandro was careful to pick a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts over a Bachelor of Arts, allowing her to have many wonderful art-specific experiences, which turned into some of her favourite memories to date. She found that the course offered her a wide variety where she got to try many kinds of visual arts and learn many new skills.

Ms. D’Alessandro loved the experience she got during her 4-year journey. She got to work with professors who were working artists and curators of photography. In her final year, Ms. D’Alessandro even got to work one-on-one with one of her professors who was both a curator of Photography for the Museum of Modern Art, in NYC AND the director of the BFA program at OttawaU. Although she loved all that, Ms. D’Alessandro says that her favourite part was that in her class of 33 students they were “a really nice small cohort...and we graduated together...and I still keep in touch with a lot of them. In fact, one of my oldest friends is someone who I met in my first year sculpture class, you folks know her too, Ms. Hillary”

When first choosing to get a BFA, Ms. D’Alessandro was considering pursuing art as a hobby and being a full-time lawyer, working with art dealers and copyright law.

Luckily for us Earl of March students, Ms. D changed her mind.

While studying for the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), she was also working as a lifeguard and teaching high school kids the higher-level classes, like First Aid and NLS. She realized that her passion laid with teaching. She had always had a special place in her heart for the arts and her interest for teaching had recently spiked. Ms. D’Alessandro realized she might as well put the two hobbies together and make a career of it. After all, she preferred spending the rest of her life doing something she loves rather than some boring old job.

Life as Arts Teacher

Now Ms. D’Alessandro is a part of the amazing Earl of March Arts community. Ms.D’Alessandro loves that the school offers a variety of arts classes. She loves that even students who consider themselves ‘not artistic’ find an arts course that inspires them and lets their creativity flow. That is probably why she has been teaching here for over 11 years.

“I feel like I have the best job in the school”

Ms.D’Alessandro loves coming to work everyday and teaching her students various ways the world can be portrayed through art. In her point of view, one of the most important lessons she teaches is Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson’s take on Van Gogh’s 1899 painting “Starry Night”. This is one of her favourite lessons because, not only does it bring in photography, but it also sums up the one message she wants her students to learn pretty nicely. Ms.D’Alessandro believes that every student should learn one quote by Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up”. Ms.D’Alessandro points out that as children, we all make scribble drawings - there has to be some creativity for that to happen. However, as we grow older, people tend to suppress that trait and no one really knows why. This lesson teaches the students that everyone is an artist. Tyson is an astrophysicist, not a conventional artist. His take on Starry Night makes the non-artists believe that they too have a creative bone in their body. After all, drawings do not have to be accurate, (we have photographs for that!) - they should share with the world how the artist feels.

Follow Your Dreams

If nothing else, Ms. D’Alessandro’s journey has taught us to follow our dreams. Ms.D’Alessandro is excited to go to work every morning. “I think that I have the best job in the school”, she says. Ms. D’Alessandro is doing something that she loves and is proud of how far she has come.

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