Faculty Focus - August 2022
Entering her 8th year at Fenwick, Mrs. Tracy Carey fosters student creativity in the Expressive Arts Department!
What is your educational background?
TC: I have a bachelor's degree in studio art from Northern Illinois University. I received my teacher certification from Trinity Christian College in 2007 and I finished my master’s degree in art education June 2020 from Eastern Illinois University.
What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?
TC: If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would be a teacher, I would have thought you were crazy! In my ‘previous life,’ as I call it, I worked for advertising agencies and at an educational publishing company creating marketing materials and buying printing.
I then stayed home to raise my children for 10 years. I was active in my kids’ school; I was room mom and brownie troop leader for years, ran the hot lunch program, fashion show, etc. People kept telling me I should be a teacher and work with kids and my reply was usually ‘no way!’
When my children started school, I had my own little company painting murals and faux finishes for homes and businesses. It was great -- I could be creative and still be at home after school with my son and daughter.
After wall paper came back in style, the painting business went away and a friend of mine, who worked for a local school district, told me I should be a substitute art teacher because ‘nobody wants to go in there!’ So I did, and the rest is history. I was a sub at York High School [Elmhurst, IL] for about five years. It was during those years that I decided that I really did want to be a teacher and pursued my teaching certification.
My first job teaching was just down the road from Fenwick in the South Berwyn School District. I was a traveling art teacher for seven years (teaching at two to three schools per year).
What are you currently reading for enjoyment?
TC: While I must admit I am not the most active reader, I thoroughly enjoy keeping up with the Fenwick Faculty summer books each year. This year we are reading IGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood. I am also reading books on glass fusing. It's a new art medium I’m introducing in our 3D classes this year.
What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
TC: In my free time, I like to go bike riding and canoeing with my husband, Brad (Fenwick Class of ’75). I also walk my dog, a rescued lovable, pitbull named Ailis. I try to paint as well as make crafts (wreaths, cards, T-shirts, etc.). And despite my dislike for cooking, I love to bake!
To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?
TC: I went to an all-girls Catholic school on the south side, Mount Assisi Academy in Lemont, IL, and I loved it! Unfortunately, MAA closed in 2014. I played softball for one year (and not very well -- I only remember being in one game!); I was active in Student Council; I was the artist for the newspaper and also was a senior class officer.
Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?
TC: I have been the Art Club moderator for the last seven years; I am a eucharist minister; until last year, I was an assistant moderator for Student Council; I also love helping with Kairos (I hope to get back into Kairos this year!) and I am one of the chaperones for our fabulous Ecology of the Rainforest/Costa Rica class trip. (See Mr. Menich for more information on this great experience!) Lastly, I'm co-moderator of the Blackfriars yearbook.
What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?
TC: I have the unique experience of being a Fenwick teacher and mom to Fenwick alums (my son, Peter, is Class of 2012 and daughter, Brinne is Class of 2014). I saw firsthand how hard Fenwick students work. Staying up until the wee hours doing homework is not unheard of. At Fenwick, it’s cool to be smart, and we see that in every classroom in this building! Fenwick students have a wide range of interests inside and outside of the classroom. Our students are active in sports, clubs and charity work. I love hearing about our students’ outside interests (dancing, running, horseback riding, triathlons, tutoring -- you name it!)
When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
TC: As I stated earlier, teaching is not my first profession. I call myself a ‘mid-life changer.’ I will be starting my eighth year at Fenwick. I chose teaching because I love helping students see what they can really accomplish creatively. I love seeing students look at their work and smile! They’re proud of themselves!
What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?
TC: Overall, I’m a pretty happy/positive person. Life is too short to be crabby. I also am excited to be with my artists so I try to share that energy with them. I create a relaxed atmosphere in the classroom (students play music and talk while they work) and try to make my art class a great stress reliever, which is what every Fenwick student needs in their hard-working day. Happy, relaxed artists create better artwork! I also have been called a ‘school mom.’ Once you’re one of my students, you’re always one of my students. Students have come back to my classroom to get help with a safety pin, sewing needle, printing papers, helping with a class project -- all kinds of stuff! I’m a mom, all day, every day!
What are your favorite classes to teach?
TC: Painting! I love to paint, especially watercolor painting! As part of my master’s program, we had to do a summer art class on EIU’s campus. Eight days of watercolor painting for 10 to 12 hours a day! It was absolute heaven!
What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?
TC: When I have students tell me during our first week together, “I can’t draw.” “I can’t paint.” “I’m so scared.” And then I see them excelling and being so proud of themselves by the end of the semester. I’m even more excited when I see them sign up for another art class!
What challenges face students today?
TC: Technology! Teenagers today spend so much time on their phones and/or iPads. I worry that students are missing the real life around them because they are so busy staring at their screens. I try to use technology as little as possible in my class to get my artists a reprieve. The teen years should be a time to socialize, getting to know each other, yourself and the world around you. That’s way more fun in person than on a screen!