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A Life Shaped by Creativity

Art teacher Cathryn Burroughs has led a lifelong dedication to pursuing her many artistic inclinations

Photo by Kyle Turner

Photo by Kyle Turner

Art teacher Cathryn Burroughs models a project for her ceramics class. Burroughs has taught a variety of art classes over the span of her career.

Kamden Miller, Sage Creek High School

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Students watched as she carefully peeled the plastic casing off the hunk of grey clay sitting on the table in front of her. She then took a thin strand of metal wire and sliced a chunk of moist clay off the top of the block. Next, she took the piece she had cut off and slammed it down on the table multiple times, kneading it with her hands in between each throw.

After the clay was nice and malleable, she put on an apron and sat down on a tiny stool behind the throwing wheel. She placed the clay in the center of the wheel, dipped her hands in a bucket of warm water and set her foot on the pedal. Her elbows were placed firmly in her hip sockets as she straddled the circular machine that began to whirl as she gently pressed down on the pedal.

Any student who has taken art, digital photography, ceramics or 3D design has most likely been taught by Cathryn Burroughs. This is her fourth year teaching at Sage Creek, and she has taught a huge variety of classes in that time. Currently, she is only teaching photography, and 3D design, and next trimester, she will be teaching art.

She feels strongly that “every school needs a place where [students] can work with their hands. Where they don’t only use their left brain. They should be able to dig their hands in clay and create.”

Students in her classes also get the opportunity to have their artwork showcased in the Del Mar Fair, where they are eligible to win prizes and people from all over can admire their work.

Burroughs, however, is not only an art teacher; there is much more behind the already colored canvas.

Toward the end of college, Burroughs found a passion for art. She discovered she not only wanted to do art, but she wanted to teach it. She got a job as the digital photography teacher at Carlsbad High School where she worked for many years. Despite her efforts to branch out in the art department, all the art positions at Carlsbad were full. She felt as though she had more potential, so when the opportunity to work at Sage opened up, Burroughs was ecstatic about the possibility of working here and expanding her creative palette.

Burroughs explained just how much the program, and she herself, has grown over the last few years.

The art department has been able to acquire more and more equipment, such as iMac computers, as well as 3D printers that students have access to. She personally works diligently to expand the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) program for her students. Burroughs shared that she takes classes outside of school and she brings those new skills back to school with her to teach her students. Her most recent class was taken at Oceansky Beads in Carlsbad were she learned how to make a beaded bracelet. She says this job “requires a lot of professional development…so I learn everyday, I love it.”

Senior Justin Mildenberger, who is currently taking a class with Burroughs, says that the class he took with her changed his potential career path.

“I liked photography [class] because it interests me and [Burroughs] made fun assignments. I see a future in photography now.”

Department chair Megan Herrick is one of Burroughs’s long-time close friends. They worked in the art department at CHS for eight years together before coming to Sage. Herrick shared that “[Burroughs] is incredibly talented as an artist. I always think of her as much more of an artist than I am. She is good at various things.” Herrick believes that they have “similar personalities but enough differences so that it works.” This is why she is certain they will be lifelong friends.

Outside of school, Burroughs states that her living room has developed into an art studio. She frequently has friends over for paint nights; she shared painting is her favorite type of expressive art. Contrary to what many may think, Burroughs never took a single art class in high school. She attended Cal State Fullerton where she took 3D design. It wasn’t until later that she developed an interest in the arts.

Burroughs enjoys spending time with her four sisters and her two kids. She is also a certified yoga teacher and loves outdoor activities.

As a teacher she “like(s) taking care of students and making sure, as a human, each student is doing O.K. I care for people.” Many others can attest to the kind and nurturing qualities Burroughs possesses.

Sophomore Mikey Moran says “[Burroughs] is very enthusiastic and she knows how to connect with the students.” He also states how the class is “relaxing and all [his] stresses go away.” He claims that he doesn’t “think about school when [he’s] here.”

Even a few teachers have taken interest in what Burroughs has been doing in her classes. For example, social science teacher Ron Cordell currently takes 3D design in Burrough’s fourth period class during his prep period. He states, “I have wanted to take some classes during my prep for a long time. I always felt too busy and I decided this was the year.” He also said how Burroughs is “ a master artist… an inspiration to all.”

Students can look forward to working with Burroughs and experiencing the art world through her well-trained eyes.

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