New art teacher Ripley believes ‘art is for everyone’

Kristen Ripley loves how art engages the body and mind.

Kristen Ripley is a new art teacher at ARHS who is excited to teach Drawing with Pen and Ink, Watercolor Painting, Digital Photography and Sculpture.

Ripley starts her day by dropping her kids off at their own school and comes to ARHS at 8:15 a.m. to set up for her classes.

“I gather my supplies, check my email and tabs for the day that I need, and drink water, then the students come in!” she said.

She has a goal of trying to “help all students” to be successful in her classes. Ripley grew up in Smithfield, Rhode Island and went to public school there. She then moved on to college at Mount Holyoke and later earned a master’s degree at Harvard Graduate School of Education in studio art and education. 

Ripley has been a teacher for most of her career being known from former students as their middle school art teacher from ARMS.

Ripley loves art for a lot of reasons. “I love how it engages your body and mind, there are so many different types of art-making and it feels personal,” she said.  It really is a gift to be an art teacher and to learn alongside people.”

For Ripley, another plus is “you never really master anything” and you can continue to grow as an artist. “It’s also very flexible and I feel we need to be more flexible these days,” she said.

Ripley’s mission as an educator is simple. “I really believe art is for everyone. I hope to present art so that students can reflect on themselves,” Ripley said. 

Ripley wants to change the way people think about art. “I’m always trying to balance the big conceptual ideas and the practical. I want people to know there’s all types of ways to be creative and be knowledgeable and I seek to expand those narrow ways of thinking,” said Ripley.

Ripley loves navigating her way through ARHS. “I am so happy here. I love the bright hallways and physical space. I love learning how to navigate through high school life,” she said.

When not teaching, Ripley loves to hang out with her 4 and 7 year old kids. “I’m a single mom with kids that are with me part-time and their other mom the rest of the time,” she said. 

She said she lives in a neighborhood in Amherst where she has met some really wonderful friends that feel like family; blood-related family live in other states.

Ripley also enjoys her many hobbies, everything from reading to taking robotics classes to learning about coding. 

“I love to read mysteries and magazines,” she said. “I do crossword puzzles when I wake up or go to bed. I also love to ride my bike, do yoga, knit and do fiber arts.”

Ripley is also learning to sew and is raising chickens.