Humans of SFMOMA: Theresa

Photo: Jolene Torr

Here we talk to Theresa, a teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District.

What subjects do you teach? And how do you integrate arts education into your curriculum?

Theresa: I teach U.S. history, leadership, and AP art history at Burton High School. I have always infused art into my history curriculum. When I taught modern world history, I created a unit on romanticism and art during the interwar period. The response was overwhelmingly positive, so I decided to try and open a section of AP art history.

Why is arts education an important part of your curriculum?

Theresa: The best class I ever took in my academic career was art history, when I was a senior in high school. The administration at Burton was open to having an AP art history course if I could recruit enough students for a class. I ended up recruiting more than enough, and now I am teaching it for the second time. Only two schools in SFUSD besides Burton offer AP art history.

The arts are so important for an individual’s education that I feel compelled to ensure that students can take a class exploring the history of art. The connections made in art history to physics, calculus, and literature often take them by surprise. The arts is the best way to teach this interdisciplinary synthesis.

How long have you been a part of the Teacher’s Institute at SFMOMA? What workshop or activity stands out in your mind as being especially useful for your classroom?

Theresa: I’ve been a part of the Teacher’s Institute for about eight years. Two recent workshops stand out in my mind: one at KQED where we made art illustrating a community superhero, and one where I was able to visit the SFMOMA storage space and participate in a very interesting activity on portraiture.