By Matthew O'Connor
While some people are busy playing Words with Friends on their iPhone or playing Farmville on Facebook, English teacher Constance Myers-Kelly is putting her glue to the paper and organizing photos as she is busy scrapbooking.
Mrs. M-K has had the scrapbooking bug for ‘’about 10 years.” Even though it is a hobby, she spends a lot of time on it, creating all sorts of different books, such as one about her husband, and one for each of her kids. This is her favorite hobby because she is able to use scrapbooking to tell stories. One way she tells stories, and organizes her photos, is by making a book about each year since she has been scrapbooking.
Whenever she is stressed, she turns to scrapbooking as a stress reliever, as it lets her escape the stresses of her everyday life. “It’s my creative outlet,” said Mrs. M-K. She never took an art class in high school, as she was a music person and so focused on music classes. She also didn’t take art because she couldn’t make things come out the way she wanted. As an adult, Mrs. M-K uses scrapbooking as a means to make her ideas come out through words pictures, patterns, and paper.
Mrs. M-K, however, doesn’t consider herself an artist in real life. “(I’m) not an artist in everyday life. I consider myself a pianist, but I don’t play as often as I used to,” said M-K. “I can’t play when my kids are asleep,” she also said. There’s a rule in her house that the piano can’t be played when someone’s asleep, as they live in a ranch and so the piano is on the same floor as the beds.
Besides being a creative outlet and a stress reliever, scrapbooking is also a way for her to have fun. “I don’t worry about getting them perfect. I want them to look nice,” said Mrs. M-K. What she’s more concerned with is getting the story told, as it is a good way to remember the moments she has with her family. On occasion, her kids or mom ask about her pages, and she hangs them up in the house. Sometimes showing her daughter the pages causes a skirmish because her daughter can’t read the cursive she writes in. Mrs. M-K also uses scrapbooking as a means of bonding with her kids, as they also scrapbook.
“My children love to scrapbook,” said Mrs. M-K. “My daughter doesn’t use pictures,” said Mrs. M-K. Her daughter only draws. “My son glues random stuff,” said Mrs M-K. although it’s not what she would do, Mrs. M-K thinks that it’s okay for them to express themselves in whatever way they please.
Although her favorite book is constantly changing, she does have favorite pages. “One of my current favorite pages is a picture of my kids’ (daughter Megan, 6, and son Alex, 3) feet,” said Mrs. M-K. That is a picture of when one summer, her kids walked with her in the neighborhood every day. Her kids chose the direction to walk in, and they walked until they were tired or hungry. This picture shows the let alone style of Mrs. M-K’s scrapbooking, as she just tries to live in the moment, have fun, and record it. Another one of Mrs. M-K’s favorite pages is a picture of her making pizza with her kids. She likes this picture because it is a means of her kids getting to remember the moments they have together.
Mrs. M-K does admit that there are pitfalls to being a scrapbooker. “I think the danger of being a scrapbooker is that you try to photograph everything, so you end up forgetting to enjoy the moment you’re experiencing because you try to photograph being in the moment,” said Ms. M-K.
Although Mrs. M-K loves scrapbooking, she doesn’t do it every day. She usually scrapbooks once a week, but sometimes takes short breaks during busy times, such as when grades have to be entered. Although she takes breaks, she can’t resist her paper and glue for too long.
Although she likes to scrapbook, she has to teach in order to put food on the table. Mrs. M-K has been teaching for either 14 or 15 years. She doesn’t know the exact number because she spent two years in Colorado, two years at another school in the area, and two years in the Green Hall, but she has since spent so many years in the Red Hall that she can’t remember.
She says scrapbooking has helped her teach. “I definitely have a greater appreciation of visual arts. I never considered myself an artist before I started scrapbooking, so (now) I feel like I can have different conversations with my students about color,” said M-K. “I understand more about the way colors can be used.” She also thinks that “everybody’s a potential scrapbooker,” as anyone can discover their love for it, and because many people have a phone on their camera.
“I do enjoy teaching,” said Mrs M-K. “Some of my days are tougher than others. She finds her days to be tough when she is unprepared for class, or when she starts to lose her patience.
When did she decide to become a teacher? At age “7, maybe 5,” said Mrs. M-K. “I think like a teacher.” She, however, didn’t decide to become an English teacher until senior year when she found out that she couldn’t take calculus. Her creativity and love of kids makes teaching the perfect job for her.
What will happen when her kids become the age of the students she teaches? Mrs. M-K thinks it will be interesting, because she has a different perspective on the variety of teenagers The fact that she is a teacher has been proven an asset already, as she knows more about her daughter’s school than her husband. When her kids are teenagers, she’ll know what goes on in their heads, as well as what they need.
What do her students think about her? Freshmen Zach Marji, Carson LaRussa, and Jan Ramirez all agree that while Mrs. M-K is nice, she gives a lot of homework. “ “She’s an awesome person (but) she takes off points for extremely small mistakes,” said sophomore Simone LaVallee. Sophomore Jess Wipper liked the way Mrs. M-K taught. “I liked how she made the class kind of entertaining,” said Wipper.
Is she a helpful teacher? “Very much, yes.” said Marji. LaRussa said that Mrs M-K has helped him with writing. “She helped me with reading Romeo and Juliet” said Ramirez. Ramirez’s favorite thing about Mrs. M-K is that “She’s nice and fun.” Larussa likes her enthusiasm. Mrs. M-K also helped LaVallee with her reading a lot.
Do students think her scrapbooking helps her teach? “I don’t know much about the life of scrapbooking but I would have to say probably not” said Marji. LaRussa also doesn’t think scrapbooking helps Mrs. M-K teach. Ramirez agrees with the two of them, in that there isn’t a difference in her teaching because she is a scrapbooker. Wipper thinks scrapbooking helps Mrs. M-K teach because “her mindset is active.”