Art Teacher, Mastery Charter School, Shoemaker CampusSince converting the William Shoemaker Middle School into a charter in 2006, the Mastery organization has converted this formerly violent and failing middle school into an academically-charged, highly successful 7-12 charter school. Attendance is above 95 percent, violence has declined by 90 percent, and last year 100 percent of graduates were accepted into institutions of higher learning. Justin Rothrauff was hired in 2011 to widen the scope of the school's art curriculum. A young teacher, Justin brings both energy and an interesting collection of experiences to his position. "I graduated from Temple in 2006 and my first post-graduate year was spent working at a restaurant. Eventually, I decided to dive into teaching and thought that substitute teaching would be the best way to get my foot in the door. I became a long-term fourth-grade substitute teacher at William Cramp Elementary School in the Fairhill section of North Philadelphia. During my time there I applied for a teaching position in Chile and that summer, while teaching at an art camp, I got word that I was hired for a two-year contract in Chile. I left the United States and taught art and a little bit of science at a private school that served some of the richer families from the city. The school had a wonderful culture, with an emphasis on planning for big events." Justin has been able to use this experience at Mastery Charter Shoemaker helping to organize school events for parents and the community. "When I returned to the U.S. in 2008 I began teaching art to grades 9–12 at Hope Charter School in the Germantown section of Northwest Philadelphia, a disciplinary school where kids were struggling to get a degree. About three years later I applied [to Mastery Charter] and this is my first year here. At the Shoemaker Campus, I am the art teacher for seventh and eighth grades and the go-to guy for all of the art displays at the school—so I actually interact with every grade level. We have about 100 students in twelfth grade, a few more in eleventh, and about 130 in tenth through seventh." Justin's outside interests keep his art skills active. "Like every good art teacher, I try to do my own art, to make that a part of my life. I've recently gotten into stained glass. My grandfather made stained glass for about twenty-five years, and as a kid I thought it was too labor intensive, too many steps. You have to have a lot of patience to be a stained glass artist, as it might take a year to finish just one piece. But not too long ago, I became interested in it. My grandfather showed me the basics, and now I'm just doing a lot of the drawing. This summer I'll bring my drawings to him and we'll see where to go from there. Before this, my specialty areas have been in figure drawing, especially with charcoal, and printmaking. I'm classically trained in oil painting, but I don't really care for it." Justin also has an interest in the design of spaces, of arranging objects so that they interact in a pleasing way. "Also, I'm an avid camper. I love the outdoors and I try to bring the influences of nature into the classroom—to keep it simple, like the way nature provides such beautiful combinations of color and composition. I try to stay true to that."
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