Q + A with New Arts Teacher, Mrs. Staples


Wendy Staples. Credit: Williston.com

If you’ve spent any time on the second floor of Reed recently, you’ve most likely encountered Mrs. Wendy Staples, Williston’s new art teacher.

In addition to teaching Visual and Performing Arts, which include ceramics, 3D, and Digital Arts courses, Staples is the Yearbook Advisor, and advisor to the 9th grade program. Staples joins Williston after teaching for eight years at Wilbraham & Monson Academy. She earned a BFA from Alfred University with a concentration in painting, and an M.A. Ed. from Boston University.

The Willistonian spoke with Staples, who also facilitates the Arts Intensive afternoon program. The answers have been edited for space:

Why did you choose to become an art teacher instead of becoming an artist?

“The money!” she joked. “I would love to be my own boss as well as draw and paint everyday. However, I’ve always been interested in psychology. I almost went to school to major in art therapy – I love the way art can have an effect on one’s emotions, thoughts, spirituality and overall well being. It sounds cliché, but visual art is such a beautiful way to express emotions and tell stories.”

Where did you work before? What was your favorite thing about being a teacher? 

“I did my student teaching placements in two small schools in Western NY State and then taught from 2010-2018 at Wilbraham & Monson Academy [in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.] My favorite aspect of teaching is being able to see students improve (on a daily basis, or over a trimester) and see how happy they are when they realize they have the ability to create something they never thought they could.”

Was there any special project during that time that you were proud of or you wanted to share?

“I often worked in the art room during my free periods. I went to a small school and there weren’t many students who liked art as much as I did so it was difficult for me to feel comfortable in my art classes. I was most proud of a mural I worked on with another art student; she and I created an abstract scene with a portrait, all in blues, and purples, and pinks.”

Are you working on any art pieces right now?

“I have always loved to draw and have always been attracted to creating portraits. For many years, I have been struggling with perceptions of beauty ideas; mostly in today’s media and pop culture. Lately, I have been working in a grid format, inspired by the contemporary portrait artist Chuck Close. I am going to start working on adding depth to my portraits. I found a way to incorporate resin in between layers of these grid squares.”

What is the favorite piece that you have made?

“A portrait I call “Aquarelle” – it’s a bright, colorful portrait of a woman’s face next to a green orchid. I created a few years ago using colored pencil in an abstracted grid format.”

Is there any advice you give to students who want to study art for college?

“Don’t doubt your love for art. I was once afraid I would fall out of love with art if I studied it in college but I only fell further; I began to understand myself as an artist and am constantly finding inspiration in my daily life.”

What is your favorite thing about Williston so far?

“I love the studios in Reed! I also love how dedicated my students are; they’re ready to learn and I’m excited for the new possibilities this year holds.”