Rosario’s own life as an artist began at an early age. “I’ve been drawing since elementary school and it was always in the corner of papers or tests or wherever I could fit it. I thought of it as a nervous habit for a while. Then, in high school I discovered it was what I loved to do and wanted to do,” she says. As Rosario’s interest in drawing transitioned to painting to papercuts to anything she could get her hands on, she learned art was an immense stress reliever and something she could spend hours on top of hours doing. “I realized if that’s what I wanted to do all the time, I should pursue it professionally,” she says.
After getting her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at Maryland Institute College for the Arts (MICA), she went into the Masters in Teaching program. “What I loved about the MICA program was its focus on holistic education and art as a bridge to children understanding themselves,” Rosario says, “In an educational system where everything is so to the numbers and whether kids are proficient or not, art is the one place we have left where kids can express themselves and have it not be right or wrong but about growth and understanding themselves.”
Rosario started her teaching career in public schools in 2012 and has been teaching at Maryland Hall since 2016. During her first year of teaching in public schools, she made her mark in a school that had not previously had stability in its art program. From a classroom in a trailer with no running water, Rosario led her students to present a schoolwide art show at the end of the year. “It was one of the biggest events ever at the school and we got to display a piece of art from every single student. Everyone in the school attended.”
For Rosario, art is a way to connect with others. “Art becomes a bridge to talking with people you never would have spent time with before,” she says. Working with children especially is what drives her. “We don’t make enough room for emotional education and teaching children to be kind to each other and themselves. Having to critique art teaches kids to grow and be critical without thinking anything is their fault or a struggle to succeed; it’s not putting yourself down to see where you can go. The beautiful thing about teaching art is seeing that self-reflection and growth.”
Rosario’s classes focus on teaching skills, connecting with students and personalizing her teaching. “With the age level that I work with, the hardest part is getting them to understand there is a beginning, middle and an end to making artwork. And the most important part is the struggle that starts in the beginning. Getting the child to hold on, not crumple up their paper and see mistakes as part of the process – the struggle is the learning process. In the end, they’re so happy they didn’t give up! That’s when I’ve succeeded as a teacher,” she says.
Rosario gets animated when talking about the classes she teaches at Maryland Hall. “We get into really interesting classes like handmade animation. It’s really fun to see the process of animation and then see what the kids create on their own.” She’s especially excited for a painting class she’ll offer this summer called “Beyond the Brush.” The class is about being as experimental as possible with what goes onto the canvas and seeing where the skills go when students lose tight control. “I find it so fulfilling to see what their awesome little minds come up with,” Rosario says.