You never know how far you can go in life with brown paper bags and Crayola crayons from the A&P grocery store.
My first mentor was my mother. My second mentor was my big brother Charles who gave me my first drawing lesson with those Crayola crayons. Influenced by my family, I learned the importance of mentorship as the foundation for being a good teacher.
For me, mentorship is the backbone of my teaching methodology. The most influential mentor in my life continues to be my seventh-grade art teacher, Ms. Ellen Kuenzel. She still offers advice and guidance. Other than teaching drawing and painting, she provided life skills that helped me survive the streets of Brooklyn. Ms. Kuenzel also helped me navigate the High School of Art and Design in New York. She was present when I attended Pratt Institute for my undergraduate degree as well as Syracuse University throughout my graduate studies. After receiving my MFA, I started teaching at the Kansas City Art Institute and moved to Woodbury University in California. While teaching at these institutions, I started mentoring students. I applied my mentorship skills to classrooms around the US; from the Pratt Institute, to Virginia Commonwealth University, and currently Mississippi State University. Although I was educating and mentoring students, I learned a great deal from Dr. Murray N. DePillars, Dean of the Arts, and Jamie Miller, Chair of Communication Arts. If not for them, I would not have taught for over 40 years.
I enjoy teaching students to be confident in their work. I educate students on how to start their own business and/or enroll in grad school. I do not just offer skills to better themselves; but to continue their education and learn to build relationships with other artists in the U.S. and abroad.
A good mentor and teacher encourage students to step outside their comfort zone and push boundaries. Throughout my life, I met many of my goals and traveled around the world to teach and mentor students abroad. I would like to think that they in turn will be teachers and mentors. I hope that my students continue to apply skills learned from my teaching and critical and creative methods. Thank you, Mom and Ellen, for encouraging me – I am proud to receive this outstanding teaching award from the Society of Illustrators.
– Alex Bostic