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Teacher Profile: Jason Lips, Upper School Art

Posted: May 22, 2017

Upper school art teacher Jason Lips’ love of art began at a very young age. “When I was five, we moved to a house out in the country (in Indiana). There was a neighbor down the road who was into art. We spent most of our time drawing. I had some natural talent, but I think that friendship sparked my interest in art.”

An admissions counselor from the Kansas City Art Institute visited his high school in South Bend, Ind., and his teachers encouraged Jason to apply. “They gave a great presentation, and my high school art teachers were convinced KCAI was the place for me to be,” he said.

Jason participated in the ceramics program at the art institute, working alongside the founders of the school’s acclaimed ceramics program, artists George Timock and Victor Babu. “Ceramics, as an art form, is still sort of young, so it feels special to me to work with those who forged ceramics to be viewed as an art form, rather than as a craft.”

After graduating from KCAI, Jason moved to Philadelphia where he taught and worked on ceramics at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, while receiving his master's of fine arts degree. After a stop in Chicago, he found his way back to Kansas City, along with his wife, Haley, and son, Judah.

A friend of his found an opening at Pembroke Hill. Although he didn’t foresee himself as a “high school” art teacher, Jason applied, and it has been a great fit for him and his family. “I never had that fantasy of making it as an artist. For me, art was always intertwined with being a teacher,” he said.

Jason currently teaches AP art history, visual art and several art electives. He uses some of the guidance he received from his past teachers such as encouraging his students to create art everyday and ask yourself, ‘What do I want to do, today?’

“I think that question is one that the visual arts are especially well suited to address,” he said. “Students answering that question for themselves is an important one. It’s important for us to allow students to be out there in total ambiguity and not be guided until they first act. We, as teachers, can then come around and say now that you have made decisions about what you want to do, let me give you a little guidance or ask you some questions about it. For me, having a teacher ask, 'What do you want to do?', was really exciting.”

Jason appreciates the freedom teachers at Pembroke Hill are given and that students are engaged and willing to work. Jason said, “I think putting in the effort is half the battle. When you work, growth will happen. If you put in the work, and you are open-minded and present in class, both mentally and physically, you will be successful.”

Last Updated: May 25, 2017