Opening Minds Through Art at SJPIICA

“It’s a magical oven thing!”

First grade students at St. John Paul II Catholic Academy (SJPIICA) aren’t exactly sure how a kiln works but they know it is fun. And thanks to their innovative art teacher who introduces them to all of its functions, they are stretching themselves in new ways.

Meghan is the kind of art teacher who sees art as a way to transport students outside of traditional boundaries. Aligned with SJPIICA’s belief that art opens minds to endless opportunities, she teaches young thinkers that their feelings can be channeled and expressed through art. She inspires them to dream big and reach beyond expectations. “I see my students letting go of fixed mindsets, learning how to problem solve, and taking risks in new ways.”

SJPIICA is known for emphasizing music, theater, and art as a way for students to discover their own potential, develop stronger leadership skills, and experience the power of self-esteem and self-discipline. The art classes are expansive and include studies of various media, as well as instruction in art genres and art history. Under Meghan’s tutelage, students explore visual and tactile aspects of creating art through drawing, painting, and pottery/sculpture.

Meghan grew up in a household that encouraged art – the art of getting messy, that is. Being creative and tinkering with common everyday items were her pastimes of choice. Fast forward to college and Meghan found herself drawn to sculpture, printmaking, and woodworking. “These art mediums really made me happy,” she realized. “Most of my artwork during those years had interactive elements to it and my favorite classes were Carving and Installation Art.”

A graduate of Tufts University’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Meghan carries with her not only a fine academic pedigree and an appreciation of different types of art, but also an understanding of the creative empowerment that art can bring to a young mind. “Students know that my favorite clay tool in our classroom is the humble toothpick. You can do awesome detail work with just a toothpick… I teach students that every day items can become clay tools.” With her encouragement, SJPII students use dry pasta pieces, toothbrushes, and most importantly, their imagination, to produce both functional and sculptural objects. This positive push to “create and innovate” allows students the license to follow their own vision and freedom of expression.  

“Art can heal and work through emotions,” remarks Meghan when reflecting on the positive effect it can have on students’ lives. “Art allows the artist to say something without actually saying anything at all. I’ve been here for nine years, and I can attest to the fact that I see students who are more confident in their creative abilities. Art can be a universal language for students to communicate and understand.”

With her enthusiastic approach to teaching and to her craft, Meghan assures SJPII students that successful outcomes truly do come down to a fine art. 

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Robert G. and Michelle Cooke Atchinson Fund for Teacher Support 

Artie and Judy Boyle Scholarship Fund 

Nellie M. Brownell Scholarship Fund 

Cameron Family Scholarship Fund

Paula Crook Clifford Annual Scholarship 

Dorothy Holt Connolly Endowed Scholarship 

Jack Connors Jr. Scholarship Fund

Doris B. Cooke Scholarship Fund

Susan E. Dawley Endowment for Teaching Excellence and Scholarship Support

Vernon F. DeGabriele & Mary A. Orton Memorial Scholarship Fund 

M. Christine Driscoll Scholarship Fund 

Thomas F. and Gertrude C. Flynn Scholarship Fund 

Corey C. Griffin Scholarship Fund 

F. Beirne Lovely, Jr. Scholarship Fund

Edward T. Mulkern Scholarship Fund

Edward and Katherine Naughton Family Endowment Fund

Sister Cecilia Leonor Navas, O.P. Scholarship Fund 

Pero Family Fund for Catholic Education 

Rose M. Pesce Scholarship Fund 

Lawrence Eugene Sullivan Scholarship Fund 

James T. A. Vanderslice Scholarship Fund 

Mary Cullen Walsh Endowment for Capital Improvements

Richard and Margaret Walsh Scholarship Fund