Campus Connections: Elise Bentley

Many new staff members are on campus for the 2023-24 school year, and in Campus Connections, Wingspan introduces you to the newest Redhawks.
Campus Connections takes a look at some of the newest staff members on campus.
Campus Connections takes a look at some of the newest staff members on campus.
Maddie Owens

The newest art teacher on campus is Elise Bentley. Bentley went to the University of Texas where she majored in radio, television, and film.  She grew up in Rowlett and taught for six years at Lake Highland High School in Dallas. She is teaching Advanced Art 1, Ceramics, AP 3D, and Art 3 classes. Wingspan sat down with Bentley to find out more about her road to becoming a Redhawk.

Wingspan: Who inspired you to teach art and why?

Bentley: “My high school art teacher inspired me to teach art probably the most because it was the first time that I felt like I could really express my thoughts and feelings through something and that was a very empowering feeling to me. To be able to express yourself creatively was such a freedom for me and I love the idea of helping other kids do that in the future.”

Wingspan: What were your expectations for teaching and were they met?

Bentley: “My expectations for teaching were definitely different than I thought going in, maybe I was a bit naive. A lot of stuff is not as easy as you think it’s going to be but that’s what makes it even more rewarding. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I’ve learned so much and the kids have taught mr stuff just as much as I’ve taught them so, its been good.”

Elise Bentley joins The Nest as an art teacher for the 2023-24 school year. Wingspan sat down with Bentley to find out more about her road to becoming a Redhawk. (Zeynep Dalkir)

Wingspan: What advice would you give to your students who want to pursue art?

Bentley: “Just be yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other artists or other people. Just be yourself, because that’s the beauty of art. You should be able to express yourself however you would like to express yourself.”

Wingspan: How did becoming an art teacher have an effect on your life?

Bentley: “Teaching art has changed my life because not only has it made me a better artist, its made more creative. It also has changed me in many ways where I think it’s made me a better person. Teaching art has made me more patient and just a more open minded person across the board because I’ve experienced so many things through the eyes of kids and it really just opens your mind.”

Wingspan: What is your daily weekday routine?

Bentley: “Every morning, I have to have my coffee otherwise I will not be happy. So every morning I wake up, drink my cup of coffee, and listen to music on the way to school. Then once I get here I have to prepare for the day and get all the materials out. I love the mornings where it’s quiet before everyone gets here and then as soon as kids get here, it’s game on go go go. Were doing so much stuff and then I feel like I don’t get to sit down until the end of the day.”

Wingspan: What do you enjoy most about being an art teacher?

Bentley: “I enjoy creative expression, just getting to be creative every day and watching someone else be creative is so fun. It’s never boring. I’m always doing new things and the kids are always teaching me new things. I feel like I grow every single year and it’s just the best thing about being a teacher.”

Wingspan: What is the most difficult aspect of your job and how do you overcome it?

Bentley: “I would say the hardest part of my job is not having the time to really connect deeply with every student. So I really try to make all the time between all of the lesson planning and grading. I really try to make time to get to everyone to know everyone throughout the year and make those connections because I think that’s one of the most important parts of this job is making these connections. So the hardest part is finding the time and I just try to organize and keep everything on schedule so I can make that time.”

Wingspan: Did you always want to be an art teacher, if not, why?

Bentley: “I didn’t always want to be an art teacher. Growing up I tried a lot of different things, but all of them ended up being boring to me and I didn’t want to sit in an office and be bored at the computer all day. My aunt is a teacher and my high school art teacher was super inspiring, so I made the change from the other things and this has just been really good. Though I never really thought I would do this, but now that I do, I love it.”

Wingspan: Why did you decide to teach high school instead of middle or elementary school?

Bentley: “As a high schooler you are at such a point in your life where you’re becoming who you are. You’ve experienced enough to where you kind of have your own opinions about yourself and the world. That’s just super exciting to see y’all right at that beginning point of your adult life, so we can have good conversations together. Also, elementary schoolers are always sticky, and middle schoolers are always smelly, so I didn’t want to deal with that.”

Wingspan: Has any of your family or friends had an interest in art?

Bentley: “Yes, I met one of my best friends in my high school art class and she’s still my best friend to this day. She mainly does painting and drawing but surprisingly no one in my family is an artist. They love looking at art and they like looking at my art but they don’t do it. So now I just really have one friend who makes art.”

Wingspan: What is your favorite art medium?

Bentley: “My favorite art medium is probably painting, I really like to paint.”

Wingspan: What is your least favorite art medium?

Bentley: “My least favorite, It’s a hard choice because I like most art but probably something with wire sculptures because it cuts you.” 

Wingspan: Who inspires you the most?

Bentley: “So, I had a very inspiring art teacher when I was in high school, who I really loved and learned a lot from. He inspired me to pursue art.”

Wingspan: Who is your favorite artist?

Bentley: “I have a lot of favorite artists but the one that comes to my mind is a woman named Alice Neel. She paints portraits and I just really love her work.”

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