Meet one of the new art teachers

Zack Richards , Student Editor

In 2017, Swampscott High School saw a huge overhaul to the art department, and perhaps one of the brightest focal points comes from one of the new faces of SHS—Ms. Byrne.

Before arriving in Swampscott, Ms. Byrne earned her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in Photography and minored in Sculpture at the University of Connecticut, then moved on to earn her Master’s in Art Education at Tufts University. After receiving her degrees, she began working part-time at Oliver Ames High School in Easton, Massachusetts. There she got her first true grasp at what it’s really like to be an educator; teaching Intro to Art, Sculpture, and Graphic Design to a wide array of students. But she didn’t stay at Oliver Ames long, since soon after she began to pursue a full-time position.

And that’s when Swampscott High School caught her eye. Swampscott was looking for two new art teachers to fill the recent void that Mrs. Balliro and Ms. Ganci, the previous art instructors, left behind.

When she looked further into the opportunity that Swampscott was presenting, she was drawn to two things in particular: the chance to teach 3D Studio Art and Photography along with the usual art courses, and a darkroom to go along with that. But outside of that, she was mainly excited for the rare freedom being offered. With two new teachers encompassing the entire visual arts department, they were given the chance to do virtually whatever they wanted with it.

Now teaching Studio Art, 3D Studio Art, Ceramics, and Photography, Ms. Byrne greatly enjoys the ability to teach her classes exactly how she chooses. Working alongside Ms. Grocki, they’re able to mold the thoughts of their students and institute an era of magnificent pieces that flourish throughout the school.

John Martin, a student who took Photography with Ms. Byrne earlier in the year, voiced “My experience in Ms. Byrne’s classroom was awesome. I was allowed to do my own thing while having her guidance at the same time, teaching me so many new things along the way.” He finished off with “It was without a doubt the best fine art class I’ve ever taken.”

Their significant impact on the school was showcased on December 14th of 2017, when a plethora of student art from their classes was featured at an art show at the high school. Swampscott has held this show biannually for as long as most can remember, but many have described 2017’s winter exhibit as one of the best the school’s ever seen.

Ms. Thomas, the Content Leader of the English Department at the high school claimed, “This was one of the best art shows I’ve seen, both in terms of quality and originality.” She added that “The staff as a whole loves seeing student work around the school, it really helps the school become a more welcoming community.”

However, when Ms. Byrne herself was asked about what is was like to be a part of the successful showing, she said “It was very humbling and satisfying to see all the great feedback.”

But she doesn’t necessarily want that to be their best art show. As someone who believes there is always room for improvement, she voiced “This is just the beginning. Ms. Grocki and I have many ideas and improvements to explore. I don’t think this was our best. If we label this the best, we leave ourselves no more room for improvement. We plan on steadily improving each and every time.”

Ms. Byrne now looks forward working along Ms. Grocki to push the art department to the best it can be. She shared her wishes to advance the department and get more levels to preexisting classes, such as Ceramics, Photography, and 3D Studio Art. She really wants students to have the chance to take their favorite art courses for all four years in order to better their talents. Not only that, but getting more art shows at the high school is another strong priority.

Ms. Byrne finished off by saying “We’ve been chilling in the corner for too long. It’s time to make some amazing work.”