Felicia Olds

Felicia is a very enthusiastic art educator who has been teaching for 30 years. She currently teaches at St. Paul’s Episcopal School and was recently named Alabama Art Education Association’s Alabama State Art Educator of the Year 2022. She enjoys creating a positive atmosphere for her students to work and watch them grow in their creative journey.

Interview with Felicia Olds

Can you tell us a little bit about your background in art and teaching?

My first ceramics experience was in college at Troy University in Alabama with the most amazing teacher Ed Walter. At the time, ceramics did not seem to be successful for me but it did open the door for me into the world of 3D Design. I have been teaching for 30 years now as an arts educator. I have served in both public and private institutions. 

Tell me about the types of clay lesson plans you use, and which would you say is the most popular? Where do you find inspiration?

I work with Laguna lowfire clay and my students seem to prefer the white over the red. I find inspiration everywhere! My local ceramic artists, Pinterest, Facebook, State and National conventions and the internet….I can see the works from someone halfway around the world from me in just a few seconds sitting at my computer…how great is that?!?

How do Mayco glazes and products fit into your classroom? What are your students’ favorite products to use?

My Ceramics students like to use the Mayco Elements Black Ice and Burnished Steel over white glaze to get some beautiful effects.

Is there a universal concept, theme or technique that you would like to retain as the foundation to your classroom?

Mr. Walter became my mentor and inspiration in how I am as a teacher now. He has sadly passed and never saw my success as an instructor. I truly credit him in many of the ways I manage my classroom and how I form my relationships with my students.

Can you tell us a little about your classroom/art space? 

I have only one wheel and one kiln and we do many non-glaze surface treatments. I use lowfire red and white clays and recently completed our very first saggar fire.

I’d love to get a glimpse into a typical day for you. How do you begin class, how do you set up and teach the project for the day?

My Ceramics program is only in its 3rd year. My 3D Design program is in its 7th year. This is my 10th year at St. Paul’s Episcopal School but my 30th year teaching art. I have two studio spaces…one for 2D and one for 3D and Ceramics. I am quickly outgrowing my space! My school is super supportive of me and the all of arts programs on our campus. Fine Arts is one of the four pillars of our school. We run a 7 period day and I teach 6 periods with one planning and a lunch. I teach 2 Foundations in Art, Advanced 2D Design, 3D Design, Ceramics I &2, AP 2D, AP 3D and AP Drawing

Do you have any advice on how you handle a student that is unmotivated in your art project of the day?

I have only 40-minute classes so students really come in ready to work and I rarely have students unmotivated due to the positive energy in the room full of creative students inspiring each other to do their best.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an art educator? Why are the arts so important to you?

My greatest joy is seeing the lightbulb moments during class when a student has a breakthrough or awakening. That moment of putting it all together and seeing the big picture is everything to me! Seeing my students continue their creative journey and them being able to share with me later all of the amazing things they have learned and produced after my class is extremely rewarding!