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Episode 12: Cassie Stephens: Being Fully Yourself

Back in March, I spoke with Cassie Stephens! Yes, THE Cassie Stephens, art teacher extraordinaire. If you don’t know her, just google her name. I have to admit, I was suuuuper nervous during this interview. Cassie is such an incredible art teacher and has been so generous in how she shares her knowledge and experience with the world via youtube, her podcast, her books, and now her instagram live series. 

I tried to ask her about things she hadn’t shared elsewhere and loved hearing about her own creative process and practice, including hesitation to just dive into new materials and techniques, learning to be ok with shifting passions, and the benefits of being a hoarder. Haha. She talked about scratching your creative itch and working your passions into your teaching to bring enthusiasm to the classroom.

It was also so refreshing to hear that despite seeming to magically produce an insane amount of content and fashion while teaching full-time, she is as human as us all and just has lots of projects going all the time, many of which take months or even years to complete. 

Andy Warhol inspired dress and collaborative mural by 4th grade students!

After spending entirely too long at Indiana University getting her degree in both painting and art education, Cassie Stephens did her student teaching in the magical land of Ireland. While she was away, her parents, fully aware of her slacker ways, sent out 52 art teacherin’ job applications to such far away places as Alaska. One such place that called her for an interview was Nashville, Tennessee. On a whim, she loaded up her jean-jumpers, resume and chain-smoking grandma to made the trip to Nashville where she landed her first teaching gig.

Fast forward nearly 15 years and Cassie had settled down with her husband and their three cats. Sadly, she’d fallen into an art teacherin’ slump rehashing stale art lessons, still wearing those sad jean jumpers and doing little creating of her own. It was then that she decided to create a blog that might help snap her out of her funk. She’ll be sharing more about that here in a moment.

Zip forward once more to the present. These days, you can find Cassie teaching in Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville. She’s written two books filled with sewing and clay crafts for kids and art teachers alike. You can also take a listen to her podcast where she shares all things life and art teacherin’. 

Kandinsky inspired concentric circles

Thank you so much, Cassie!! 

I loved hearing such encouragement from her, from art-making to teaching to just hitting record right now. The more I think about it, the more I feel that her superpower is encouragement. Every time I watch her videos, I feel it – whether intended for kids or other art teachers, she beams enthusiasm and getting things done. She talked about allowing her passions and interests to change over the course of her life – going from oil painting to fashion – and being open to continued change. 

Links:

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“Starry Night” dress with needle felting and real lights!!

I love this glimpse into Cassie’s process!

A peek into Cassie’s classroom
Colorful Village lesson demo pieces
Cassie’s skin tone lesson was one I looked at when developing my own skin tone lessons for TK-5th grades.
Cassie teaching kindergarteners about line. I love the snakes!
Kindergarteners painting
Kindergarteners painting
Student artwork
3rd grade tree weaving project

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