Connect with us

ArtStarts in Schools Logo

October 03, 2018

Influencing Future Educators - Meet Our UBC Practicum Students

ArtStarts in Schools, UBC practicum student

ArtStarts offers several practicum placements for students in the fields of arts and education each year. This summer, we were lucky to welcome Sarah Laubach and Melanie Pierluigi, both teacher candidates participating in UBC’s Community Field Experience program. Sarah and Melanie each spent three weeks working on projects related to their field of study and goals as a classroom teacher - they were generous enough to share with us about what the experience was like for them!


  1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

[Sarah Laubach] I graduated from SFU with a BA in English in 2016 and am now pursuing my love of teaching through UBC’s Bachelor of Education program. I love working with kids, and am always in awe of their individual creativity and joy. In my spare time I enjoy hiking the North Shore mountains, painting and spending time relaxing with my family and friends, especially when a campfire is involved! I also love to cook and bake and can often be found baking scones or making chickpea curry.



[Melanie Pierluigi] Currently I’m completing my B.Ed in IB Secondary English from UBC, and finished my final placement here at ArtStarts. For the past seven years, I lived in Korea, China and Japan teaching English at various schools from universities in Korea to an International High School in Shanghai. I love to travel and I’m a bit of a vagabond, having lived in ten different cities since 2007, including Tokyo, New York City, and Toronto. I’m hoping to settle in Vancouver for at least the next few years, and then looking to teach in South America.


  1. When did art start for you?

[Sarah] In my childhood, I was fortunate to have parents that supported and encouraged various after school arts programs for me including dance, pottery, and band. In highschool, I loved being part of improv and drama programs. I had a dedicated teacher who was responsible for an amazing drama program and who made it possible for me to pursue my love of the stage. In my education program at UBC I had an art professor who encouraged his students to see art as a daily activity. We were given the assignment of “wrecking” a journal every day with various entries. Through this process I have grown to embrace art as more of a process than a final product and I now value the act of art in addition to the skill of art.


[Melanie] From a young age, I’ve always enjoyed arts-related activities and I believe most children are naturally drawn to the arts. I would say that art started in high school when I took classes in music, dance, art and English/creative writing. Although I first dabbled in writing short stories, I didn’t write my first freestyle poem until I was 17. I’ve been hooked ever since and began publishing poems a few years after that in various literary journals. Having a father that was a poet also helped to introduce me to the publishing scene.  


  1. How would you describe ArtStarts in 10 words?

[Sarah] Organized. Dedicated. Empowering. Relevant. Professional. Generous. Welcoming. Creative. Inclusive. Genuine.


[Melanie] Relaxing. Accepting. Diverse. Open-minded. Appreciative. Creative. Spatially organized. Colourful. Indigenous-focused.


  1. What was your favourite/most memorable moment during this practicum?

[Sarah] On my second day in the office, one of the artists that ArtStarts supports came into the office to show her appreciation with a bouquet of flowers. She was so thankful for all that ArtStarts does for the community and it was an opportunity for me to see all of the practical work and impact that ArtStarts has in the Vancouver community and in the province of BC.

In my time here, I have also had a chance to meet many wonderful volunteers that help with the gallery and various other projects in addition to the amazing team of staff. All of the volunteers and staff have been so kind and it is a joy to get to work alongside such lovely people.


[Melanie] First, I’m impressed by the calming ritual ArtStarts cultivates each morning with daily stretching/breathing, Wednesday’s kudos/kind words, and sharing of the day’s projects. I think this creates a great start to the day and helps with productivity. This was memorable since it’s something I’d also like to incorporate in either my classes or with other teachers in the future.


  1. What was the best advice you received while at ArtStarts?

[Sarah] I find the staff community at ArtStarts very conscientious, kind and welcoming. Every morning, the staff and volunteers take the time to have a meeting where they stretch, each person shares their goals for the day and then we read one of the calls to action of the TRC [Truth and Reconciliation Commission]. By reading the calls to action every day, the staff are keeping the advice of the TRC current and continuing to keep reconciliation at the forefront, as it is an ongoing process. The practice of checking in with each other every morning is a best practice for any workplace, and yet is not that common in many workplaces. As an educator, I would love to take this practice into my classroom as a way to set the tone for the day and show value for each student by listening to their goals for the day.


[Melanie] That art is a process rather than an end product. As a teacher, there is often an expectation of needing certain results, grades or a final end product. I believe this can have a negative effect on students.  It’s great to remind myself as a teacher and artist to appreciate the process involved rather than the pressure of needing that perfect end result or grade.


  1. What did you learn about yourself while completing your Community Field Experience?

[Sarah] My work at ArtStarts has confirmed my love for education and teaching in general. I love working with kids and this experience has helped to solidify my love for the classroom and given me ideas to enrich my teaching practice. Through the Saturday programming and resources that ArtStarts provides to the education community, I am thankful that my future students will be able to benefit from this experience. This experience has also solidified my love for working with others who value excellence and hard work. I am inspired to up my game in the classroom and think about how an arts integrated approach can be applied to more of the lessons that I teach in the future.


[Melanie] That I am fully capable of leading a workshop with 3-7 year olds! Having worked mostly with adults and teenagers for so many years, it’s nice to witness the uninhibited, innocent and creative playfulness of this age group. I think it’s a reminder not to take myself seriously, and to return to that place of newness and exploration that children naturally have.


We’re wishing both of these talented teachers-to-be best of luck out in the world of schools. If you are interested in contacting ArtStarts about a practicum placement for yourself or one of your students, reach out to our Program Manager, Leah, at [email protected].

Social Sharing

Past Stories