Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Stanavage


By Griffin Prushinski, Assistant Reporter

With the recent retirement of our long-time art teacher, Ms. Vitale, the Xavier community is excited to welcome Ms. Stanavage as our talented, new art teacher! The second you walk into her room you get a feel for what her class is all about. Spread out across the rooms are incredible drawings and paintings done by Ms. Stanavage herself! I was lucky enough to sit down with her and learn about her high school art teacher, her aspiration for learning Dutch, and some of her favorite artists.


What inspired your passion for art and made you want to teach it? Any artists that really inspire you?

“I was always inclined to art and I just naturally found myself making art or opting for projects that involved art. Then when I got into high school, my art teacher, Ms. Gibson, was just a fun art teacher that I looked forward to going to her class and challenged me as an artist. I found out that I really liked to draw animals and life. I got introduced to painting through one of the classes I had with her. Then in college, I ended up taking a lot of painting classes and I worked with a lot of wonderful professors that influenced my style of more realistic, accurate paintings. If I had to narrow it down to artists who currently inspire me it would be Kehinde Wiley, who did Obama’s presidential portrait. I think what he does and what his work stands for is really amazing and thoughtful and so necessary right now. It’s also absolutely beautiful in terms of detail and technique.


What were you doing before you worked here at Xavier?

“I guess we can start with high school, so I went to an AgroSciences program, where I majored in plant science and animal science, that’s where my passion for animals and plants came from. From there, I went to Central Connecticut State University and I majored in Art Education with a concentration in painting. During my time at Central, I worked at the Princeton University Art Museum in the education department, and then I worked at the New Britain Museum of American Art in the education department as well. I’ve had a little bit of museum experience trying to figure out if I wanted to work with museums. It’s really a whole different scene, but you get to interact with artwork all the time. And then also seeing the other side, seeing it as a student-teacher. It was a nice comparison, I definitely liked working with students and watching projects develop over time.”


Tell us a little about your background? Family, where you live, etc….

“I grew up in Colchester, Connecticut, and I still live there. I have an older sister, who is an AgroSciences teacher in Southington, and then a younger brother, who is a digital media design major at UCONN.”


What classes do you currently teach here?

I teach a variety of classes. I have an online art appreciation class, drawing, foundations of art, graphic design, illustration, and an AP Art class. Art Club is also almost becoming a teaching thing too. It’ll be great because I think it’ll be a nice opportunity for kids who can’t really get instruction of art into their schedule.


What are you looking forward to here most at Xavier and how are you liking it?

Well, something that drew me in was the community and the rigorous learning environment that they foster here. It really aligns with my philosophy of education and as someone who loves learning, that’s an environment that’s really enticing. So, I guess it’s the whole community of what Xavier means, and being your best person is what essentially tried to evoke in their students. I’m loving it here, it’s great!


What are your outside of school hobbies/activities?

I enjoy baking when I have the time. I’ve been picking up Dutch but, it’s been on pause though, with school and everything coming back. My little Duolingo owl misses me, he tells me that every day! Then I guess unrelated to art, trying to learn something new or gardening. I have house plants. Do I have success with them? Not really… There’s been a couple but there’s been a lot of deaths.


What is your favorite art piece that you’ve done?

I would say my favorite work of mine is my painting of my brother holding a sunflower that we grew. To me, it’s what feels most complete. Many people try to find a deeper meaning to it, but I just thought the flower was cool.


Once again, we are happy to welcome Ms. Stanavage to the Xavier community and are looking forward to her impact here. If you are not currently an art student, feel free to join Art Club, led by Ms. Stanavage in room 402 every other Tuesday. Hope to see you there!