"Protected" by Susan Fisher is a tryptic created with sawdust fired masks surrounded by foam pieces. "The writing represented all the terms and words we have been bombarded with during the pandemic," Fisher explains.
Longtime Lesley faculty member Susan Fisher is the Massachusetts Art Education Association’s 2022 Early Childhood Art Educator of the Year.
“I was very excited. It’s an honor, especially during these times, to be recognized,” says Fisher, who was nominated by a colleague in our Graduate School of Education.
Fisher began her career in arts education more than 40 years ago and has taught every age group from kindergarten through adults. She is a certified arts specialist for K-12 students and has worked in public school settings in addition to sharing her knowledge at Lesley as an instructor, mentor and advisor. She has held artist residencies with VSA Massachusetts, which works with differently abled people, and in Worcester public schools. She spent the six years prior to the pandemic working in schools, a residency funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Fisher says her own art practice has helped her become a better teacher.
“Being a practicing artist makes you aware of the process continually. I think when you remove yourself from the process it’s really hard to guide people,” she says.
Since 1989, when she began teaching at Lesley, Fisher has worked to impress upon future and current K-12 educators the need to nurture children’s creativity.
“The most important thing is to encourage the curiosity and the wonder,” she says.
Fisher emphasizes the importance of creating a hands-on, multidisciplinary experience with kids. For example, sharing the history of Native American pottery before teaching students how to make their own clay vessels by hand.
“I want them to understand that there are other cultures that have made discoveries, and we can learn from that and appreciate it,” she says.
The lessons Fisher teaches her young students also apply to her grown up students at Lesley.
“With adults, it’s getting them back to that curiosity and exploration without judgment,” she says. Once they get there, it’s easier to remember why art can have such a deep impact on their young students.
“I see the power of the arts, and I think that you can nurture students’ voices no matter what age they are,” Fisher says. “I try to model that with my students that are teachers and with my work with children.”