DVSA or Dundas Valley school of Art is the artistic hub of Dundas, Ontario.
This vibrant school for the arts offers courses catering to children, adults and everyone in between. Whether you’re enrolling as an adult that wants to do beautiful landscape paintings, a teen that wants to learn the stylistic qualities of anime, or a child that wants to build a dinosaur out of clay, DVSA has something to offer you.
I taught here, and I want to take a moment to tell you about the school and I’s time together.
It was just nearing the summer of 2013 and i was just finishing up my first year of college. During the summer students often take the time to find part time work to help pay for tuition fees. I was just starting to apply for jobs, when my grandfather sat me down for a conversation. He told me that he was going to try and get me into an art school in Dundas. Seeing my enthusiastic reaction he encouraged me to visit the school after he handed my resume to a friend of his that worked there. By the time I visited, the lady at the front desk informed me that my grandfather had stopped in 3 times asking if I had gotten the job. She said I got the job and that I should tell my grandpa so he would stop showing up (thanks grandpa ❤ ). This was the beginning of my first summer at DVSA, and it was a blast.
Work to me before. meant serving food to cranky people all day long, but at DVSA work was creative, self-paced and fun. I started as a summer assistant, and the job description was having fun with students, helping students in need, directing students to and from classrooms and just making art. I was so hyped up with joy my first week I thought I was going to get fired for annoying teachers or something. When a staff member walked up to me at the end of the day yelling out my name, my heart sank. I worriedly turned around thinking I was going to get canned, but when she told me that I was doing an amazing job, I fell in love with the school!
For 3 years I worked as a summer assistant, painting, sculpting, drawing with the students. Sometimes I questioned whether ‘I should have been paying’ for the classes rather than ‘be paid’. Each year there was a healthy mix of new and old coworkers, and to this day I can say that I liked every single one. DVSA is an art school, but at the same time it’s a community. The school builds strong art skills, but it builds strong bonds just the same. I’ve met friends that I’ll keep in contact with the rest of my life.
Freshly graduated from college with my bachelor degree, the director of DVSA reached out to me to teach some kids classes. I excited emailed back “yes” (it doesn’t read as that excited, but I had a huge smiled on my face as I typed it out, trust me). I became Graham Stoltz, Art Teacher.
Being a summer assistant and being a Teacher are two different ball parks. I loved both equally as much though. My first couple classes I showed up 3 hours early to make sure everything was set up, and sometimes just because I was excited. That sounds crazy and probably is, but teaching is such a methodical and precise art that takes some time to perfect. Projects need to be thought out in advance, materials need to be collected, and examples have to be made. One project could take days to plan, and with kids one project might not be enough. KIDS CAN BLAST OUT PROJECTS FASTER THAN JETS TAKE OFF. I welcomed these challenges and grew to be a better instructor because of them.
These are some of the projects we did…
Some words of wisdom I can share during my time teaching would be…
Always be prepared, but never expect things to go as planned. In fact some would say one should never make a concrete plan, and let the class take the projects in their own directions. Always be positive, and encourage even the smallest success a student has. If you plan to have students show their work to the class, make sure they’re all confident in their work for their own reasons; if students are forced to present something they aren’t yet confident in, they may grow resilient to your teachings. Know that each student will have their own levels of engagement; every student won’t like every project you give, so don’t take it personally. Always listen to what your students say or ask for; they will respect you way more and potentially work harder. Finally just have fun with it.
Sorry for that detour, I’ll go back to talking about DVSA!
Even though my time with DVSA has come to an end, I have nothing but complete respect and love for the institution and the people that keep it running. The school has an atmosphere to it like no other. I think that other employers and institutions can learn a lot from this art school. People are warm and openly friendly. Someone is always working on the next big artistic craze, and has a group of people supporting them while they do it. Finally everyone just works together like one big family. Its a spectacle to see, and if you’re looking for a great place to take art lessons in the Hamilton area, or a place to work, DVSA is where you should start!
Here is a link to their site…
All the best,