Tami Fujimoto, Secondary School Art Teacher
Tami Fujimoto is a teacher in the Visual and Media Arts Department at Toronto’s Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts. She’s been teaching for 22 years, having earned an Honours degree in sociology and English, and a Bachelor of Education. She has also studied jewellery arts, and has co-owned a gallery.
I went to Glendon College at York University. At that time, I thought I would become a psychologist, and would pursue a dream of learning to speak French fluently in order to attend art courses in Paris. My studies in France did not happen, as my father was diagnosed with cancer and I felt the need to remain home with family and friends during that very difficult time.
I did study art at the Ontario College of Art (now Ontario College of Art and Design University), and I fulfilled a desire to study jewellery arts at George Brown College. At that time, I spent countless hours making silver jewellery, origami earrings and all kinds of other pieces. I was fortunate enough to have my jewellery in a couple of retail stores, art events and galleries, including the Art Gallery of Ontario.
In the early 1990s, my husband, brother, friends and I decided it would be great to support local artists and to help develop the Toronto art scene, so we decided to open up a joint gallery/store. We called it “dzo.” It was tons of fun, and we lasted for about eight or nine months. I was teaching part-time, and I realized that I did not want to be trying to make ends meet as a gallery owner, so I pursued full-time employment as a visual arts teacher at the secondary level.
During my rookie year, I was an art and family studies teacher at East York Collegiate Institute, where I met a fantastic group of teachers who taught me so much. Following my time at East York, I taught visual arts at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute for about 14 years. I’m now starting my fourth year at Wexford.
Being creative and helping young people to learn about art and themselves are very rewarding tasks. Ultimately, it’s about keeping children and youth open to perceiving art in new ways, about teaching youth to appreciate art. It’s great to be able to help students learn art techniques and hone their skills, and then produce wonderful and meaningful works of art. My students are very talented, and they keep me open to new ideas every day. I like to be progressive, to keep up with new ideas and to share my passion for the arts with my students. Keeping them informed and having them participate in the art scene are important as well. It gives the art teacher a means to stay current and active in the art community, and it allows opportunities for students to become engaged in meaningful art-related events and to build their confidence to move forward. Teaching is a great profession. Go for it!