Molding the arts at KO: Mr. McDonald’s Masterpiece

Arts

Art is a deeply personal and sometimes profound way of expressing yourself, showing one’s deep-seated dreams and emotions – inspiring others. Art helps people communicate and as an art teacher, Scott McDonald believes in these fundamental principles, and uses them to inspire his students.

Mr. McDonald’s interest in art began in his senior year of high school, even though he remembers his high school art class as “nothing special.” His passion for art flourished when he was at the University of Hartford. While he was there, he explored all forms of art. Art teacher Katherine Burnett shared interesting facts about his time there. “The professors still talk about him, and how unique it was to be so crazy talented in so many different medium – sculpture, drawing, painting,” she said.  

Mr. McDonald enjoys sculpture and it is a passion of his. “I grew up building things because my father is a builder, I loved carpentry and woodworking, so while in school I went the sculpture route to create/build 3 dimensional art,” he said. After graduating college in 1990, his intent was to continue art training in graduate school, his desire was to “spend his life making art.” Lucky for KO, he has spent his life not only making art, but helping others to develop their own creative spirit.

Following his graduation, Mr. McDonald spent a year working with his father as a carpenter, but it was not fulfilling. He was compelled to return to art and started teaching as a part time sculpture technician/teaching assistant progressing to become an adjunct professor of sculpture. While applying to graduate school programs, he was made aware of a teaching opportunity at Kingswood Oxford. He never thought about teaching as a career, but was intrigued by KO because it was possible for him to wear multiple hats – teaching, coaching and advising;; and like with different mediums in art, at an independent school he would get to explore different ways to interact with and bring out the best in his students.

Although teaching was never part of his life plan, he described how teaching has become his artistic passion. “…an outlet for creativity as it is like making art, because I get to invent assignments and work vicariously through my student,” he said. “I can nurture their creative instincts helping them develop their own creations.” In addition to being the chair of visual arts, he teaches foundations, drawing, and all of the sculpture classes. He also advises and coaches (he has coached the ski team, women’s volleyball and other sports) and has been an integral part of the KO community for almost 25 years.  

Mr. McDonald is an inspiring teacher and actively tries to create an environment much like his college art experience to bring out the best in his students. He tries to instill freedom and foster independent creativity and passion.  “I want my classes to be more like a college art experience where I teach the technical skills and expect the students to work through their ideas,” he said. “I want to be responsive and supportive as the students find their way.”

Ms. Burnett said that he truly cares for his students, and wants his classroom to be a comfortable place to explore.“Art is such a vulnerable thing and having a safe, supportive environment is the best way to bring out creativity,” she said. Mr. McDonald has found his passion in bringing out the artistic passion in others.