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Spotlight on Art with Ashley Cavadas
Spotlight on Art with Ashley Cavadas

During her time student teaching at Gillen Brewer in 2016, Ashley Cavadas found herself staying late most days in order to explore new materials and test new project ideas. Art has always been part of her life, and after an internship in Art Education at the Guggenheim Museum, she knew she wanted to teach art, bringing together two strong interests. Yet it was truly surprising to work in a place such as Gillen Brewer-- somewhere where art was a big part of the picture-- and where her ideas were welcomed in order to support students in accessing art despite challenges. She liked the close-knit community at Gillen Brewer, and the way that small classes allow for a deep exploration of a wide variety of art projects.

After several years at a public school with hundreds of students, she began to feel that it was not the right fit. She couldn't see every class or work with every student, and art was not essential to the program. Just as she was reaching out to her supervisor from Teachers College, seeking new opportunities, Kate Gugliotta contacted her to let her know of her plans to relocate out of New York City. This past July, Ashley joined Gillen Brewer as our new full time art teacher.

Ashley describes that from day one, she has felt completely welcomed into the school community, and has been thrilled to see growth in all of the students who she'd worked with previously. Taking on new challenges and trying new projects is invigorating in an environment where she's given the space to do so.

In discussing the role of art in education, Ashley explains that art gives students a chance to explore, in every possible way. Whether it's feeling paint between your fingers, or imagining yourself as a designer creating buildings in the future, or discovering how colors look when mixed together, art class is a place for students to freely express themselves, with limitless possibilities. The creativity of our students dictates much of their work in art, and she describes how, given the same direction, ten different students will create ten completely different projects at any time. To nurture art exploration at home, she recommends letting your student guide the way. Open-ended art explorations and freedom to use materials will inspire our young artists. She says, "You will be amazed with what you can do with a piece of paper and guided exploration!" Don't forget to check your child's backpack for all of the amazing artwork she sends home!

Ashley holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and Art from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and a Master of Art Education from Teachers College at Columbia University.