Christina Sanchez Juarez
Animo Pat Brown Charter High School, 2019-Present
For the past two years, I have worked as a Visual Arts teacher at a public charter high school in the heart of South Central Los Angeles. I came to this school after spending seven years as an art educator in an urban 2nd-8th independent school. I made the shift to public school because I wanted to work in a community where I could use my skills to uplift and empower diverse working-class communities. Shifting to public education was the best decision I’ve ever made. My teaching practice has deepened and is profoundly informed by the equity and social justice issues of our time. I see access to a quality arts education as a fundamental equity issue. I believe that all students should have an opportunity to experience the libratory, healing, and transformative power of the arts.
The cornerstone of my teaching philosophy is Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB), a structured choice-based approach to art education that enables students to develop artistic habits through authentic learning experiences and responsive teaching. TAB emphasizes experimentation, innovation, and curiosity; students make art about the things they love (e.g. youth culture, fan art, brand design, anime, etc.) while concurrently practicing the studio habits of artists. From research, to sketching, to refining, students are taught how each phase of the artistic thinking process works through step-by-step guidelines and regular practice. The element of choice and emphasis on studio habits provides scaffolded entry points for students to develop their artistic voices and technical skills. Student choice keeps me on my toes and pushes me to constantly learn new skills, at any given moment I can find myself mentoring a budding architect, a fashion designer, and an aspiring animator all at the same time.
Park Century School, 2012-2019
For seven years, I had the pleasure of working for Park Century School, an independent school that serves students with language-based learning differences. Working in this specialized learning environment required me to consistently design differentiated learning experiences to make art accessible to all students. Many of my students were diagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning differences that made it difficult for them to thrive in a mainstream classroom. Because of these difficulties, it was imperative that the art room function as a sanctuary where students could flourish, heal, and find their artistic voices. Trained initially as a discipline-based teacher, the experiences I had with these students pushed me to look for alternative teaching methodologies that would allow me to craft a curriculum that put my students' interests and passions first. After extensive research and professional development opportunities, I transitioned to a choice-based teaching methodology called Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB) to reflect current art education trends and increase the student-driven curriculum happening in my classroom. This transition signaled a pivotal shift in my teaching career. My classroom transformed into an authentic studio space where students joyfully created artworks inspired by their interests, passions, and curiosities.