November 16, 2023

Kaye Blankenship ’18

Secondary Art MAT ’18
Additional degrees: MFA, Visual Studies, Pacific Northwest College of Art ’23
Current position: De La Salle North Catholic High School in Portland

Kaye Blankenship, Secondary Art MAT '18 Kaye Blankenship, Secondary Art MAT ’18

Why did you choose to earn your MAT from Lewis & Clark?

I wanted to be able to live in Portland, and I had attended LC for my undergrad, so I knew the quality of the program would be high. I was also deeply drawn to the focus on social justice in the classroom, and was pleased with how it was incorporated into both our studies and our student teaching.

How prepared did you feel as a first year art teacher?

I think the combination of my classes and the large amount of student teaching prepared me very well for my first year as an art teacher. And I felt confident that if I needed help, I could always reach out to LC for support (which I did on several occasions and it was warmly given).

I love the “aha” moments for students who don’t view themselves as artists. It often happens with the messiest activities, but at some point the light bulb will go off for a student as they realize that they can make something incredible, and express themselves in a way that they thought was closed to them. Seeing students evolve past that creative block is one of the most incredible things.

How do you incorporate social justice into your day to day classroom?

I teach primarily non-white students at DLSNC, which puts me in an interesting position as a white educator. I work hard to make sure students see themselves in the artists we study, that they are able to express all parts of themselves, and that my classroom is a welcoming place for students of all identities. It is constantly on my mind and a part of my planning process.

Do you keep in touch with your cohort?

I have many life long friends from my cohort. We do not see each other as often as I would like since COVID hit, but when we get together for a picnic or a party it is a wonderful experience. We do regularly keep in touch via texting and social media, so the connection is still there even after 5 years!

Did you receive support during the job application process from your program or faculty? What was that support like?

I received coaching on my various application documents, like cover letters and resumes, and was given several opportunities to talk to school districts on campus. This was excellent practice for the large educator job fair at the convention center in the spring, which is where I landed my first job before I had even graduated.

The strength of this program lies in the students who enroll in it. It is a collaborative experience, and working with teachers in different content areas is both necessary and beneficial. Incoming students should have a team mindset, in addition to building their own skills, and be ready to learn from each other.

What would you tell a prospective student who is considering applying to the MAT program and becoming an art teacher?

Teaching is not easy, and it is a skill you will constantly have to hone and develop. But the magic of teaching art is undeniable. You get to be the safe haven for so many students in their school day. You get to have fun and create alongside your students. You get to watch artists emerge and grow confidence. And I think the struggles of being an educator in America is well worth that kind of magic.