Ms. Young spends years as an art historian, switches to teaching

Yazmin Martinez

“I did not grow up thinking I’d want become a teacher,” said Cyndi Young, current Visual Arts teacher. After being an artist, seamstress, fabricator, office manager, auto-body restorator, and a waitress, Ms. Young calls herself “the late bloomer.”

This year will be her fifteenth year as a teacher, after working as an art historian until she was about 34, when she decided to go back to the University of Louisville for her Masters. “If you’re an art historian, you’re sort of in a little cubicle sorting slides … that’s just what you do,” she said. “I had no desire to be in stuck in a closet sorting slides or anything like that.”

Ms. Young eventually started looking at other career possibilities such as a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree at U of L. “I started the Exploring Teaching class and I was assigned to Joan Stewart here at Manual,” Ms. Young said. Stewart retired a few years back, but her dynamic interactions with her students inspired Ms. Young. “She had murals in her classrooms and she’s teaching calculus and I’m understanding it; That’s what drove me into teaching.”

Ms. Young taught at Noe Middle school until she found out that she could have an opportunity teaching at Manual. “I loved the age I was teaching, at the time I felt like I could bring so much to the age group,” she said, “It took me 15 years to graduate the middle school age group. I felt like I had done as much as I could do with them. I didn’t want it to get stale.”

As a teacher from Noe, Young took her students back and forth from the galleries to her classroom. When she found out VA teacher Suzanne Sidebottom was retiring, she decided to request a transfer. “I didn’t know if I would get the position or not, but I wasn’t going to get if I didn’t try,” she said, “I feel extremely lucky.”

Working with high school students is different, she said. “It’s not even close. The students’ focus in high school is much better. I spend more time getting out information rather than waiting on them to settle down.”

Ms. Young is looking forward to this school year and all the lessons she can take home to her grandchild, daughter, and son.

Accompanying the new school year were 11 new teachers in a range of magnets and academic departments. This story is part of a series about each of them.