I haven't always been a teacher.

            For years I worked in the banking industry in Los Angeles and throughout California.

            But the most important thing for me is that I did become a teacher.

            I answered that call and left banking forever in 2000.

            Initially, I taught 5th grade at Leland Street School.  (Yes, in San Pedro!)  Next it was 6th grade Honors English at Dana Middle School, then History, until finally…finally, I became an art teacher.  An art teacher at last!

            It had been a journey, and I felt I had arrived because art is my passion.

            I am, and always have been, a lover of art, drawing and painting and “making things” as far back as I can remember.

            As a child, I’d race to the library for books with pictures.  Gloriously inspired, I’d write and illustrate my own, such as The Green House and Other Stories. (I was seven!)  I bound my books with needle and thread, painted covers for them, made them dust jackets.  This is how I spent my summers.

            Come fall, I went to school and there I’d dream. Never an hour went by during which I wasn’t at some point thinking about what I might draw or make as soon as I got home!

            I admired art, created art, and studied art throughout my corporate career.

            It is an honor now to teach it.

            Supporting me all the way, then and now, are my wonderful husband and two amazing sons. When not teaching, I enjoy traveling with them, hiking with them, learning foreign languages, and creating books.  Yes!  Thanks to all that practice, I’ve illustrated a real book, The Night of La Befana, in 2014, together with my sister.  And there are more in the wings! 

            But most importantly, I love teaching art to young people. Genuine, handmade art.  While digital art does have its place, what I personally wish to impart to my students is an awareness of the human joy and satisfaction that can be achieved through creating art by one’s own hand.  Expressing our human feelings through a chosen medium (paint, clay, cloth, wood…things we touch, hold, move…) and sharing our humanity with others through our creations, is what forges the connections we all need to truly live.                        

            I share the sentiment of the late writer and artist Tomie DePaola who from his first little box of crayons till his passing at 85, did all his work by hand.  He said: 

            “I have a great reverence for life… And I think I can draw that reverence.”  

            In our digital age, kids need to know that only they, not their computers, can uphold the reverence for life which is the only thing that will keep our world going.

            I hope, through art, to help them know their power.

 Ms. Centofanti