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Arts Department Welcomes New Ceramics Teacher

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Most students who have participated in various parts of the SHP arts program in the past few years have had the opportunity to get to know Mr. Schultz, SHP’s longtime ceramics teacher. In his over 20 years at SHP, Schultz became an important part of this community and a cornerstone of the arts program. After his retirement at the end of the 22/23 school year, he will be sorely missed by all. But artists, worry not for the security of SHP ceramics. Because while Schultz relaxes on the beach in the Bahamas, as we all hope he is doing, his position will be taken over by Margaret Haden, a ceramics expert who we hope will stick around here for as long as Schultz did.

Ms. Haden began her journey in ceramics in high school, at a small boarding school. She fondly recalls her school’s five-chamber wood climbing kiln, which people from all over the world would come to use. 

“That’s what really piqued my interest,” she said. 

A climbing kiln is a type of firing kiln, designed with a firing chamber, containing a firebox at one end, and a flue, or waste duct, at the other. The “firebox” isn’t actually a walled-off area, leaving the pottery space exposed to the stoking space.

Inspired to begin working in ceramics, she then went on to get a BFA from the University of Wisconsin in ceramics, as well as an MFA from Alfred University in ceramics. She joked earnestly, “I always say that ceramics is the only thing I was ever good at.” Ms. Haden has spent years honing her skills in ceramics, and has begun to experiment with incorporating mixed materials into her work. For example, she uses collage, wood, and resin to enhance her projects.

When asked what led her to teaching, Ms. Haden said, “The most honest answer is that it’s really hard to make a living as a ceramic artist. Teaching, in the beginning, was a way to make a living.” Luckily for SHP’s art program, she fell in love with it. “Teaching makes me a better artist,” she said. She got plenty of experience before coming to SHP, teaching at a boarding school in Southern California, but she missed the Bay Area, the place where she went to high school and discovered her love of ceramics. At SHP, she immediately felt at home. 

“I was really impressed with the organization,” she remarked. “The school functions like a well-oiled machine, and I’m so happy to be part of this community.” Ms. Haden is looking forward to getting to know her fellow teachers as well as getting to know the students. She stated, “I want to instill passion for ceramics to the students.”

If you’re a freshman who’s never tried out any art, or a senior who’s spent years practicing an art other than ceramics, or anything in between, feel free to check out ceramics. Ms. Haden’s room is next to the HEART Lab on the first floor of William V. Campbell Academic Arts Building, and she’s open to anyone who wants to try something new. Anybody who’s taken art classes at SHP can tell you that SHP arts is a great thing to try out in high school.

“Art gives students an opportunity to use their brain in a different way,” Ms. Haden said. “It takes their mind off of more traditional academic courses. I want it to be the fun part of school.” SHP academics can feel very overwhelming and difficult to manage for some students, so art is a fun and accessible way to find passions at school and give an otherwise rigorous schedule something fun and challenging in a unique fashion.

The fact is, though, art can be difficult. It takes a lot of time and practice for someone to perfect their craft, and at times it can feel impossible to reach the level of more practiced artists. But the amazing thing about art is that it is subjective. There is no definition of “good” in art. Very few people are naturally amazing at any given art. Anybody who is motivated and has a passion for art can become an artist.

“What makes a good artist is dedication: trying to learn the craft to its fullest,” said Ms. Haden.

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