Master of Arts in Teaching, 2009
School of Education
January 1, 2014
“To me, there is no more rewarding profession than teaching.”
Tiffany Huff, UC Irvine graduate with a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and a Single Subject Teacher Credential in Art, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The Ohio State University with a focus in ceramics. Currently in her 6th year of teaching ceramics at University High School in Irvine, she shared the following thoughts about her educational journey.
To me, there is no more rewarding profession than teaching. To be a teacher means to help develop young minds, to provide a positive role model and, hopefully, to develop an appreciation for the arts that will serve students well throughout their lives.
My father and mother were my first teachers as a child. My father is a professor emeritus and former dean at UC Irvine, and my mother (who was also my elementary science teacher) now teaches science at Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar. Some may say it is “in my blood” to teach, although I was not always convinced of that. Growing up, my interests lay within the field of art. I had special relationships with every art teacher I ever had and, although I had respect for their profession, I felt more inclined to make art, not teach art. After graduating from Ohio State with my B.F.A. degree, I was faced with the reality of life after art school. I wanted to give back to my community and to society, so I worked for over two years at The Buckeye Ranch, a residential treatment facility for troubled and at-risk youth in Ohio. I was very interested in the field of art therapy as a way to work with kids — making art while also making a difference.
After moving to California, I decided to take a big leap of faith and apply to the Credentialing program at UCI. Many friends expressed concern that this career change was a huge risk, but I knew that there would be zero possibility for success if I did not try. Upon entering the university, I immediatey became engrossed in research and the learning process. Re-immersing myself in an academic setting evoked a plethora of new questions and ideas. I became aquainted with a whole new group of intriguing peers and professors who offered a wide variety of world views. Several of the relationships I formed at UCI have developed into my closest friendships.
My experiences teaching at “Uni” (University High School’s nickname) have reinforced my conviction that teaching art is the satisfying career choice for which I had been searching. I love to get kids excited about designing new projects and learning new skill sets, and it is gratifying to help them develop the positive self-esteem that they will need to maximize their human potential. Arts teachers can help students in their quest for self-discovery and can provide them with information about both the arts and culture on a global scale. Art is an amazing tool for sensitizing youth to the world around them!
Since joining the Irvine Unified system, I have worked to support a diverse group of students in my role as Intervention Lead Teacher for my school site. I serve as an Irvine Teachers Association representative, participate in our After School Peer Tutoring program, and am a Lead Support Provider for our district’s Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) Induction program. The application of pedagogy and research-based instructional practices I acquired while at UCI is put into play each day as I support new teachers (and students alike) in Irvine.
I want to thank my exceptional methods instructor, Dalynn Malek, from Laguna Hills High School. At UCI, my “savior” was Judi Conroy, my cheerleader was Pat McCabe, and Bernie Jones was the one who told me to do it my way and that would be “right.” They, along with the ever-optimistic and encouraging Karol Gottfredson, all made an enormous impact on my teaching practice. The role of a teaching artist is one that continually requires seeking inspiration and being inspirational simultaneously!
Aside from teaching, I find that yoga is an essential component to a healthy lifestyle for me. I am also obsessed with my two-year old niece, Skylar, who lives in Atlanta with my sister and brother in law, and I continue to practice my own craft via a small business that I created last year, called Wabi Sabi Ceramics.