37 year career comes to a close, Mrs. Concascia retires


Mrs. Concascia alongside a portrait created for the Memory Project.

Musharraf Atik, Writer

Among the many teachers at Waterford High School, one of the longest tenured members remains Mrs. Concascia. For a grand total of 37, she’s spent 8 years at the elementary level in New London, 18 years at Clark Lane Middle School and 11 years at Waterford High School. This school year will be the last, as she’s retiring. Throughout this career, Mrs. Concascia has worked tirelessly to teach and educate students the fundamentals and intricacies of fine art, while also inspiring them with her dedication and effort. For Mrs. Concascia, “art is an easy tool, it happens naturally.” Whether it be painting, drawing, or any other medium, she views art as a way for her students to express themselves naturally in a form that no other subject can provide. It’s also a way for her to create a comfortable atmosphere and creative environment. One of the reasons she’s spent her career focusing on making this atmosphere is because of her own personal experience; as a student; she always felt encouraged to be herself walking into high school. “There was no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, only encouragement to try new things, take risks, and push boundaries in order to learn and gain confidence,” she said. 


As she has for many years, she views art as a tool for self exploration that she hopes to spread to her students. The process is simple: creative thinking, combined with problem solving, can lead to fun and exciting results. When a piece of art is created by her students, Mrs. Concascia says that on top of it being highly rewarding, it’s also an accomplishment for her to see students expressing and ‘impressing’ themselves. To put it differently, it’s crucial to her that young artists have fun in both creating art, but also sharing art with others. Above all, she views her job as preparing students for life and the real world, where the creative thinking process is essential.


Mrs. Concascia’s approach to teaching extends to making sure that students have more than one answer when it comes to any proposed question. “I’ll have a couple of different scenarios or I’ll direct them into multiple different ways,” she elaborated. For example, she detailed how one of her fundamentals of teaching is to not give students a specific answer, but instead to ask them questions to see what direction they want to take something. If this doesn’t work with the student, she’ll cater to their needs and figure out what suggestions she can give to “create a successful solution that they are happy with.” As a part of her problem solving and creative thinking approach to teaching, she emphasizes the importance of allowing students to make their own decisions by their own logic and reasoning. 


Reminiscing on old projects, Mrs. Concascia says, “thinks back to old special projects and wants to recreate that.” One of the projects she has spearheaded is the implementation of the National Arts Honor Society, which has allowed students to become extra involved in schoolwide, community, and global art projects. For example, the “Memory Project” connects internationally to students across the world to receive a hand painted drawing by students at Waterford High. Mrs. Concascia has also been involved in rewriting the art curriculum to include leveled courses and a wider variety of courses. Just a few years ago, she was involved with a special project in which mosaics were built for the sensory garden in the UCONN Avery Point campus. Despite being a tedious task, she helped make the process of adhering 50 pound pavers into the ground as steadily as possible.


Mrs. Concascia (left), alongside fellow art teachers Mrs. Bono, and Mrs. Brown (right).
Mrs. Concascia (left), alongside fellow art teachers Mrs. Bono, and Mrs. Brown (right).

The long lasting impact she is able to have on her students doesn’t go unnoticed, and she’s always working hard to figure out the next big project for her students. Speaking on what her legacy may be in Waterford, she commented: “I would hope it’s my connection with students.” One of her many influences are her own childhood teachers, who created such an impact on her that she continues to be influenced by them every day by trying to embody the same, if not, more passion into her work and job as she did. Mrs. Concascia grew up in Pennsylvania, where her gymnastic coaches helped her push boundaries and gain confidence to do things she never thought were possible. The connection she developed with those few adults helped her learn life long lessons that are still valuable to her today. As a result, Mrs. Concascia hopes to constantly build that ‘personal connection’ between herself, art and most importantly, her students. She often has students who come back to express their gratitude towards her commitment and enthusiasm during their time as a student, which to Mrs. Concascia, ‘means everything.’



Mrs. Brown, another long tenured art teacher at Waterford High describes Concascia as “happy, fun and a dynamo.” She elaborated that Mrs. Conascia is one of the most creative and excited individuals with whom she has an amazing time working. On top of that, she’s one of the most talented individuals when it comes to art. 


In her time, Mrs. Concascia loves to do anything outdoors. Exploring different areas, hiking and kayaking are a natural part of her hobbies just as much as art. She’ll also spend around 20 to 30 hours a week working in her pottery studio during the summer. Mrs. Conacascia will be retiring at the end of this year. Whether it’s through the National Art Honor Society or one of her many classes at Waterford High School, Mrs. Concascia pushes herself to take the extra step in order to connect with her students and leave a long-lasting impression and impact to the better of her community and students.