By Morgan Brang
As art is a requirement at Jamesville-DeWitt High School in order to graduate, it has led some students to take ceramics with teacher Steve Pilcher. Mr. Pilcher is finishing his career at J-DHS this June after 30 years of teaching art. “I am looking forward to having more time to pursue art on my own time,” said Mr. Pilcher, who is retiring at a relatively young age of 58.
This year the school district offered a financial incentive to teachers who retired early. This prompted Mr. Pilcher to retire, but there are certainly many things that he will miss. “One of the coolest things is seeing kids achieve more than they expected and watching a student solve problems on their own rather than me telling them what to do,” said Mr. Pilcher. Some of Mr. Pilcher’s former students are now pursuing careers pertaining to ceramics, which is something that Mr. Pilcher is very proud of.
Even though Mr. Pilcher loves the student interaction aspect of this job, there are some things he will not miss about being a ceramics teacher. “I will not miss the all the responsibilities, the clean up and constantly firing kilns,” he said.
Principal Paul Gasparini describes Mr. Pilcher as “a true craftsman.” Mr. Gasparini believes Mr. Pilcher’s best quality to be his passion. “He’s an incredibly gifted artist who is very passionate about his craft,” said Mr. Gasparini. This passion is shown through his love for pottery and the work he creates in the classroom.
Mr. Gasparini and Mr. Pilcher have been colleagues for 14 years. However, Mr. Pilcher and drawing and painting teacher Carl Wenzel have been colleagues for as long as Mr. Pilcher has been teaching: 30 years. Mr. Wenzel and Mr. Pilcher share the same goal when teaching their classes. “We want to be teachers and artists, not just a teacher but a real artist,” said Mr. Wenzel. Mr. Wenzel describes Mr. Pilcher as a “very competent teacher and a wonderful ceramicist in himself.”
Senior Bella Hylen, who has taken ceramics with Mr. Pilcher for all four years of high school, has really enjoyed Mr. Pilcher’s class. Mr. Pilcher creates his own pieces and uses them as demonstration and examples. Hylen finds this very helpful when creating her own pieces. “He really tries to make sure you are pushing yourself and your creativity,” said Hylen. Junior Maddie DeRegis has taken three semesters of ceramics with Mr. Pilcher. “Mr. Pilcher is a great guy and really knows what he is doing,” said DeRegis. Junior Melissa Murphy agreed with DeRegis and had a lot of fun in Mr. Pilcher’s ceramics class.
Mr. Pilcher’s love for art developed when he was in high school, but he expressed this love as a custom woodworker for the first few years after graduation. As he went back to college to earn his degree to be able to teach, Mr. Pilcher took “an amazing ceramics course.” This college course only increased his love for this from of art. However, Mr. Pilcher enjoys all forms of art. He was originally hired here at J-DHS to teach three expressions of art: drawing and painting, ceramics, and photography. Currently, Mr. Pilcher teaches five classes of only ceramics which shows not only his love for ceramics, but the also students’ love.
Now that he will have more free time, Mr. Pilcher wants to travel the world. But he will keep his love for ceramics. He plans to spend much more time in his art studio doing what he loves. Mr. Pilcher also wants to get into landscaping and building outside pergolas. “One of the cool things is that I will have the luxury to decide as I go what I want to do,” said Mr. Pilcher.