Featured Faculty Profile
Teresa Assenzo, Instructor of Visual Arts
- Director of Visual Arts, Instructor of Visual and Performing Arts
- M.F.A, Painting and Drawing, California College of Art
- M.A., Psychology/Counseling, Western Michigan University
- B.F.A, Drawing and Painting, Kendall College of Art and Design
Teresa Assenzo, Instructor of Visual Art, has been teaching at Saint Mary’s School since 2004. Graduating from California College of Art with her MFA in drawing and painting, she has taught art in a variety of settings including Western Michigan University and the Kalamazoo Institute of the Arts. She has exhibited work nationally as well as locally in group and solo shows. Ms. Assenzo has illustrated three children’s books. In addition to creating and teaching art, Ms. Assenzo is also interested in art and pet therapy. She has presented at the North Carolina Art Education Association as well as the National Association of Independent Schools.
What do you love about teaching?
I love helping girls to explore their creativity, tap into unknown talents, and discover their own unique voices. It’s wonderful being a part of their creative journey and seeing the girls develop as artists as well as getting to know them as people. It’s incredibly rewarding, and I feel very thankful to have work that is meaningful and fulfilling.
What do you most value about teaching at Saint Mary’s as an all girls’ boarding and day school?
We really have a wonderful community at Saint Mary’s. I value the relationships we develop with the girls and their families. It’s just incredible to watch them grow into young women and be a part of that transformation. Our girls are very creative, eager to learn, and just so much fun to work with. I’ve also been impressed with the kindness and compassion they show toward one another, our Saint Mary’s community, and the community beyond SMS. I also value my colleagues, all the people that we work with who make up this terrific community.
How did you adapt your teaching in the virtual environment during the pandemic?
Luckily, we already had a lot of technology at Saint Mary’s which made the transition easier. All the art girls had Photoshop on their computers, so we were able to work digitally. We created digital portraits inspired by Andy Warhol and Shepard Fairey. The girls shared their works with each other on the Microsoft Teams and Canvas digital platforms. For fun, we also did some virtual art museum tours.
Of what class project/initiative are you most proud?
Virginia Boyd, instructor of English, and I developed combined art and English classes, Art of the Remix and Journaling. It grew out of a collaborative project between classes. It’s been really exciting to co-teach and have the girls combine writing with visual art. In Journaling, we recently completed a still life as self-portrait project. The girls created still lifes and wrote about why they chose the objects and the meaning the objects held for them. For inspiration, we looked at Dutch still life paintings through to contemporary works. The girls also looked at the Wall Street Journal which publishes still lifes accompanied by writing that are created by artists and writers.
What do you do to keep learning?
We place value on professional growth at Saint Mary’s. So, there are plenty of opportunities for professional development. I attend conferences and workshops on a variety of topics including diversity and equity, grading, project-based learning, and, of course, art. I frequently take courses from the North Carolina Museum of art and do lots of webinars through the North Carolina Art Education Association. I have also attended painting workshops such as Art New England through Massachusetts College of Art as well the Kansas City Art Institute. I also enjoy keeping up with my own practice and continuing to make art.