Ms. Sides brings real-world design experience to the Design and Engineering Studio

Ms. Jill Sides – photo by Index staff

From working on geometric domes to building Christmas trees out of reclaimed pallet wood, the newest addition to the art department, Ms. Jill Sides, arrives with a unique backstory that she hopes will give the students in her Woodworking I and II classes the best experience possible.

     Born and raised about thirty minutes away from Haverford in Alden, Pennsylvania, Ms. Sides attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, with plans of earning a degree in illustration and painting. Not far into her time there, she found that the school was not creatively stimulating and shifted her ambitions to the third dimension.

     “Someone at the time suggested I take one of the furniture classes, and so I dropped all the classes I was scheduled for, and I took one furniture class. I instantly knew,” Ms. Sides said. “I just got this feeling and I was like, ‘This is what I need to do, this is what I’m meant to do, I love this.’”

     By the time Ms. Sides graduated with a B.F.A. in furniture design, she noted that her classes “were pretty much all woodworking.”

     After earning her degree, Ms. Sides obtained a position at her alma mater, where she worked for five years before returning home to work at the Philadelphia-based company Anthropologie, owned by Urban Outfitters, whose immense catalog of items features home furniture and décor.

     As a display coordinator, Ms. Sides worked on many different creative projects and showcased them on a massive scale. Some of the items she highlighted working on during her eight years at the company were a twenty-foot high geometric dome made of aluminum pipes and covered in hard canvas and some large platforms used at the Devon Horse Show.

     Ms. Sides is excited to use her experience in college and at Anthropologie to help in the classroom.

     “I’ve done a good cross mix of things and I’m excited to be able to bring that into a school setting,” Ms. Sides said.

     Although being a mother of both an eleven-year-old and a five-year-old has given her plenty of teaching opportunities at home, Ms. Sides did not plan on moving into academics.

     “I have a five-year-old who is starting [at Haverford] in kindergarten, and I was there for a new parent reception and kind of wandered off at one point to find the woodshop and afterward told the school how impressed I was with it, and then one thing led to another,” Ms. Sides said. “Coming into it too from a parent side and faculty side was a little scary at first because I thought, ‘Oh, am I going to see things behind the scenes I don’t want to know about?’ but I’ve been really impressed seeing the school from both angles.”

     Finally, Ms. Sides cannot wait to begin working with the students on not only their artwork, but also being able to explain and understand what it is they are creating.

     “[The art department is] starting to bring in more of a discussion about the artwork and the pieces as well as the process, which is something that we focused on a lot when I was in school, so I’m eager to bring my experience of that and talking about it and the creative process and walking kids through that verbal part of it,” Ms. Sides said. “I’m excited to get started, to work with [Mr. Greg] Ressler and Mr. [Mark] Thorburn, I really feel like I’m in a great department there and I’m grateful and thankful for that as well.”

Author: Matthew Schwartz '21

Editor-in-Chief Matthew Schwartz has written for The Index for three years. He previously served as Managing Editor and News Editor.