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Ms. Costas in the Same Building, Different World

23 September 2014 No Comment

By Lily Moore

Alice Costas is the newest addition to the Art Department, filling in for Lindsay Caplice, Art Department, for the first semester. As a Northside alum, Costas says she is experiencing the school in a whole different way, but the culture is still the same. Her dual perspectives of the environment make her attune to some aspects of the Northside community that we take for granted.

Hoofbeat: Where did you go to college and what did you major in?

Alice Costas: I did my undergrad at Brown University and was a guinea pig for the dual-degree program, majoring in American studies and creative writing. I continued my undergrad at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) where I majored in textiles.

HB: Where did you teach or work before Northside?

AC: I worked at the RISD museum and some different schools around Providence, Rhode Island. Then a bunch of different community art centers especially one called New Urban Arts which was a free afterschool studio space where the students actually hired all of the people who worked with them. I basically just hung out with teenagers and made art — based on their ideas as well as some more involved inquiry based projects. For the last two years I’ve been in grad school so I’ve had a couple of jobs in the interim especially ones related to the art institute, but this is my first big school-related job in that time.

HB: What classes do you teach here and are there any classes you are interested in teaching here?

AC: I ended up teaching exactly what I would have chosen. I teach Art 1, Drawing and Painting and AP Art History and I am pretty happy with that set of classes. I would like to do some digital imaging. I love digital imaging but I am pretty overjoyed with where I am.

HB: What are you most looking forward to this school year?

AC: So many things. I’m incredibly excited for the 20 hour show: seeing what the advanced art students produce for that. On the other end I’m so excited to be hanging out with three really big groups of Art 1 students while I watch them start out and get to know their different processes and ways of thinking.

HB: As a Northside alum, what do you think about Northside today and how is it different from your high school experience?

AC: So much of the manner in which you experience a school is based on the role you are occupying within that space. It is very different to be here as a teacher, almost like being in a different building. But I think a lot of the culture of Northside is the same. It is a place of inquiry and excitement and the students are really willing to try new things that are frequently sort of intimidating and risky. It’s really a pleasure to be back in that kind of culture, especially as a teacher.

 HB: Is it weird to be working with some of the people who taught you in high school?

AC: I think there is a minute where you walk into the lunch room and you see all of your former teachers sitting around and you are thinking “I do not know where to sit.”  It is the same feeling you have when you are a teenager with your friends. That moment was kind of a headspin but at this point, it is pretty much business as usual. I do not think I would have come back to teach here if I had not had a really good experience as a high schooler so it is a treat to be working with people who had such a huge impact on my education.

HB: When I look at some of the younger grades, I know I see younger “versions” of my friends and people I have gotten to know throughout my high school experience, do you feel like you see that here?

AC: Yeah and it is sort of magic, seeing people who remind you of someone who is really dear to your heart. I think it is like the nature of people, personalities repeat themselves, and it is really great to see those patterns happen. It happens anywhere too. When I was doing my student teaching, I walked in and there was a kid sitting on a bench and he looked exactly like one of my really good friends from grade school. My heart sort of jumped and I thought “You are here!” There’s something really beautiful about working with kids of different ages in that way. The same way that it is interesting to see your parents as kids.

HB: What do you think about Northside compared to other schools?

AC: It is very different from the other places I have worked; It is a very different school; It is a very different culture. It is a really amazing place that has a lot of privileges and that is something I hope people in the building recognize: you are getting something very different here than what you get in most of the rest of CPS and that is something to pay attention to and feel deeply grateful for. I do not think that is something to feel guilty for. I just think it is important to make sure we are supporting the idea that everyone should have access to the resources we have in this building. We can do that, we can make that world possible.

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