Saida Fagala, Art Specialist (Bissonnet Campus)

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan (USSR). My father was an artist, so I spent most of my early childhood in his studio drawing and painting along with my two brothers.

I graduated from the Baku State Art College, then continued my education and studied ceramics in the Baku State Institute of Culture and Fine Arts. I hold a bachelor’s degree as an art educator and a master's degree in fine arts.

I actively participated in local, regional, and international art exhibitions, and at the same time, started working at the Creative Ceramic workshop as a ceramic artist. In 1990, I became a member of the USSR Artists. I was also invited to teach ceramic classes at the Baku Pedagogical Institute, which I did for three years.

In 1998, I moved to the United States with my husband and son. I was working as an art instructor at the private Art-4-All school in Sommerville, New Jersey. Soon enough, we moved to Houston. My teaching career was continuing in a private after-school program at City ArtWorks school. I worked there for many years before deciding to shift my career to teaching arts full time.

I am also working as a full-time ceramic artist, collaborating with local art galleries, and participating in exhibitions.

Why did you choose to work at Post Oak? (And how long have you worked here?)

It has been seven years since I started working for Post Oak. I am an artist, a free spirit, and an independent thinker, and for me, the Montessori method reflects my personality—to be creative, resourceful, and disciplined at the same time.

What does Post Oak’s saying “Challenge the Norm” mean to you?

Being a member of The Post Oak School is a privilege because it makes you feel like a member of a big family. We are all connected and are moving in the same direction, supporting each other and our students.

I believe the new norm is a willingness to accept the current situation, to be aware and prepared, and to step out of my comfort zone—to be able to take care of me and to be a role model for my students.

How did you get started in your profession? How did you know you wanted to do this? What are you most proud of?

I always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, except for the fact that I loved art since I was very young. So, art was my first choice. I am happy to combine both dreams in one. Teaching arts and working with children are my biggest passions.

I am proud that my students not only enjoy my classes but create amazing artwork that makes me very proud.

How were you introduced to Montessori?

While working at City ArtWork, I started a contract to teach drawing and sculpture classes at the School of the Woods. I loved the Montessori world. When I had a chance to work full-time in this world, I was ready. Lucky me, I got the job at The Post Oak School, becoming a member of this beautiful family!

In your opinion, what’s the best part of teaching? What’s the most challenging?

When I was young and started teaching arts, it was mostly fun and experimental. Teaching arts now is more like giving my students all the skills—all the knowledge and experience—that I acquired.

The most challenging part is to be always one step ahead of my technically advanced students!

What's your favorite part of working with children or adolescents? What makes a “good day” at school?

Simple: when my students create fantastic art pieces, and it happens all the time! Every day is a good day, as long as we have art.

Who or what inspires you? What has influenced you most in your work?

My inspiration is all around me: I notice a beautiful sunset, a green leaf, or a red cardinal in my garden.

I love nature, the wind. I am from Baku, the City of the Winds. The sound of the wind makes me feel creative and like part of the world. I love the night skies, feeling like a small part of the universe. My students inspire me all the time; I give them ideas, and they are suggesting some corrections—it’s inspiring!

What do you do for fun? What are your hobbies? What do you like about Houston?

I love crafts, sewing and knitting, crocheting. And I love everything about Houston! Great food, my favorite basketball Rockets team, my friends, and the art community. Houston is a multicultural city that makes me feel at home, and at the same time, exposed to so many great cultures.

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