JANICE MERENDINO ’74
Janice Merendino, the Founder and Director of The Branch Out Project, is a professional artist, college professor, and one of five founders of Philadelphia's Clay Studio, an internationally recognized center for ceramic arts. As director of The Branch Out Project, Janice designs creativity workshops for major corporations and government agencies, community non-profit groups, schools and professional development for teachers. She has exhibited her works on paper and porcelain pottery in a solo exhibition in Tokyo in 1982 and continues to paint and study Japanese calligraphy.
Janice has taught undergraduate courses (1980-2014) at Rosemont College in the fine arts and continues to teach visual literacy courses for the MFA graduate studies program in Creative Writing. Since 1998, Janice has designed and taught workshops for Accessible Programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for people with learning and physical disabilities. She co-authored an article for Museums and Social Issues entitled Accessible Wellness Programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and two articles on how drawing can enhance creativity and the practice of law for Altman Weil, Inc.
- Your students will teach you most of what you need to know. Listen and watch them carefully. Observe more than their work; be attentive to how they treat one another, where they stumble and how they seem to be feeling. Remember what it felt like to be that age.
- Don't give your students a project you wouldn't want to do yourself. Find the thing that excites you and build on that.
- "I'm not sure how to do that" are very powerful words coming from you as the teacher. Showing that you are never too old to learn will break down the artificial barrier between teacher and student.
- Make mistakes purposefully. Show your students you're comfortable learning from your mistakes. "Wow, I messed that one up" or "I really need to practice this" are important words coming from a teacher.
- Aggressively question the assumptions you make about your students and yourself. Which constraints and limitations are real and which are self imposed? Unquestioned assumptions needlessly limit the projects you attempt and your assessment of your student's capabilities.
- Make your respect for your students visible. Finding the connection between their interests and your learning goals is often the key to a successful experience.
- See yourself as a resource to be used as the students see fit, (not as you see fit, which may be different).
- The best way to learn something is to teach it to others. Give students the opportunity to teach you and their classmates something new.