A Creative Escape

Join us each Tuesday as we feature a short conversation with one of our exceptional faculty or staff members so that you can get to know a little bit about them.

Meet Middle School and High School Visual Arts Teacher Alan Ordoña

Alan joined Eastside Catholic in 2014. Prior to EC he spent eight years teaching middle school art at a public school in Las Vegas, Nevada. He graduated from the University of Washington, studying art and received his teaching degree at California State University-Chico. He grew up in the north Seattle area and attended Cascade High School in Everett. He lives with his wife and son in Burien, Washington. 

In his spare time, he enjoys playing the mobile game Pokémon Go. “It may be silly, but I have met a lot of people through that game, and found it is an active community and even culture,” he says. When asked if he could take his students on a field trip anywhere in the world Mr. Ordoña shares, “As an art teacher, I would say an art museum in Europe (because that would be cool). But I would really like to take them to an animation studio like Disney and so they can learn more about being an “Imagineer” or animator so they are aware that art could be a great career.” 

Q: What is your philosophy on teaching and education? 
My teaching philosophy is simple . I want my students to be comfortable with art and understand that everyone can make art. I don’t expect our students to be the next Da Vinci or have a career in art, but I  want my students to know that anyone can learn art and art techniques. My goal is to have students appreciate the medium and not be uncomfortable with the craft. Art is supposed to be fun, a creative escape and a way to unwind. If that’s not happening, then I am not doing the subject any justice. 

Q: What is the greatest success you've had with teaching? 
There are many stories that I would call success including receiving a thank you note from a student . That recognition to me means that student values me as their teacher and in some way, I have made an impacted. Before Eastside Catholic, I was a middle school art teacher in Las Vegas. A student of mine went to one of the best art schools in Las Vegas for high school. I attended her senior year art show and as I admired how her artistic talent had grown, I also noticed a thank you section. She thanked a lot of people, her parents, loved ones, and her current teachers and me as well. She noted I was the one individual that helped ignite her passion for art and if it weren’t for her middle school art teacher, her path could have been very different. Reading that made me feel proud. To this day, she continues to correspond with me and even invited me to her Master of Fine Arts show in college.

Technology is another artist tool, like a paintbrush or pencil.

Q: Explain your experience with a particular teaching strategy or technology. 
When I began working with technology in art, I found it a bit intimidating at first. But once learned and mastered, I have grown to appreciate technology as a new method to express my teaching. If technology is efficient and a source to introduce new material—I go all in. Let’s face it—technology is fast paced and ever changing, and art is changing too. Technology is another artist tool, like a paintbrush or pencil. During the pandemic, I’ve been able to use Zoom and Microsoft Teams to add more technology tools to my artistic toolbox. I think video demonstration might be in my future teaching repertoire.  

Q: If I walked into your classroom on a typical afternoon, what would I see going on? 
Before COVID-19, if you walked into my classroom, you would see students creating art. It would be a busy room and students would be getting supplies, working on their current art project , having conversations with their classmates, and occasionally, some popular music would be playing in the background. I should say, music that is popular to me, but not necessarily to my students! Although I did have students share  on their teacher evaluations that I play the best music.

Q: Besides lecture, what methods of teaching do you use? 
Visuals! Of course, I am guilty of this because I am an art teacher. I like to show my students a variety of ways to appreciate what the end product might look like in their upcoming art projects. I also like to demonstrate ways they might encounter challenges when creating art. Visuals are everywhere for them—in their OneNote, in my PowerPoint demonstrations and on the SmartBoard. 

If you have questions for Alan, you can reach him at aordona@eastsidecatholic.org.

Read Additional Blog Posts