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Graphic Design, Art Education

Year Graduated

BFA in Art, major Graphic Design; MA in Art, concentration Art Education

Noteworthy campus activity or achievement
VAEA Blue Ridge Region Middle Lever Art Teacher of the Year 2015
Other: Master of Design Award, Harrisonburg Art Lotto 2016

What are you up to now?
I am in my first year at Harrisonburg HS, after 12 years of working in elementary and middle schools. I am a practicing artist, currently working on a series of 10 oil paintings for the Larkin Arts CSA. I am also serving on the board for the Arts Council of the Valley. My husband and I have 3 kids and a new kitten, and we recently bought a house in Harrisonburg. 

How does your art major/minor inform your career? How did it help you get to where you are now?
I am in my 13th year of teaching art, and still use my graphic design skills for freelance and volunteer projects. My master's degree has given me access to resources that I can use to better my instructional practice, and the know-how to begin to tackle research for specific areas on my professional development that I need, and in some cases are lacking the research community at large. 

What are some of the most valuable skills you gained from the School of Art, Design and Art History?
I learned to see multiple solutions to a problem, which is critical in successful art teaching. I gained experience in several media and developed a curiosity for materials and techniques, which I try to convey in my classroom through encouraging my students to play with materials and discover new properties of them. I learned to accept constructive criticism, and value the expertise and perspectives of my fellow artists in order to improve my craft. 

What is your advice for JMU students knowing what you know now?
Take classes that are out of your comfort zone. Take Spanish as a second language if you plan to work in public schools. Study abroad if you are able, because opportunities to live in other countries for long periods of time are few and far between after college. Volunteer if you have the time and financial stability to do so, in an art related capacity if you can. If you have had to take out loans for college, and you are planning to work in public schools, apply for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program as soon as you are can get thousands of dollars forgiven after you make 120 payments.

Website, Blog, Instagram, etc. of yours you want to share?
Instagram: @ellteemakesart 

a picture of one of Laura Thompson's paintings  a picture of one of Laura Thompson's paintings  a picture of one of Laura Thompson's paintings
artwork by Laura Thompson

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