Gettin’ Fired in the ISD Pottery Studio


Getting fired is not always a bad thing. Especially when a week ago, you were just a lump of clay.

Students in Sarah Wiberg’s pottery classes this fall have learned firing is the important last part of the clay process. They know the pottery vocabulary. They know the clay-to-creation process. They understand this art takes lots of practice and patience.

What they may not know is that they are learning a great deal of other skills in the process.

“Concentration, motivation, expression… I could go on for days,” says  Wiberg, the ISD art teacher, who is listing some outcomes students gain from the new campus clay studio. The space opened this fall in an unused area formed when Long Hall Science Center was opened in 2010.

Wiberg, an experienced itinerant teacher of the deaf, joined ISD’s faculty in the fall of 2017. She began pitching the benefits of a clay art component almost since last school year began. Wiberg discovered ISD previously offered ceramics for students, and saw evidence of greenware molds, an old kiln and other supplies still existed in storage on campus.

After much research and presenting cost estimates to school administration, Wiberg’s dream was a reality. “It was a lot of work, but I felt it was important for an art program to include ceramics,” she said.

The space includes a separate kiln room (to prevent fumes from entering the classroom), several pottery wheels and the essential clean-up sink.

Open to students 4th grade and older, Wiberg said the younger students ask to go to the studio every day. “I can’t imagine what the 4th graders will be making when they are high school seniors!” she said.

Whatever those future seniors create, during the process they will be learning vocabulary, using math skills, thinking critically and communicating.

“Even with clay all over our hands, we ask questions, provide ideas and more,” says Wiberg.