Lining the Lower School halls are sculptures you could find nowhere else. Every year, Ms. Jenny Waring’s first project for her students is a collaborative monster. Made out of PVC pipes, cardboard, and papier-mâché, students from each grade create the annual sculpture. This year’s monster is called “JW Fang,” named by her protégés to commemorate Ms. Waring’s final year at Haverford.
“In 1999, some of the kids were finishing up early, and I had a bunch of junk in the corner that I hadn’t decided what to do with,” Ms. Waring said. “My third graders wanted to do something with it.”
Twenty-two monsters later, Waring’s project has become a hallmark of Lower School art. Students love this project, but they really love Ms. Waring.
“All of the art teachers here are actually artists on their own, so the school trusts us to teach in the way that we like to teach and whatever fires our inspiration,” Ms. Waring said.
One of Waring’s teaching strategies is incentive-based. Each time students have a productive and transformative class period, she rewards them with a jump up the “free drawing day” ladder. Former lower school students remember the excitement of reaching the tenth rung of the ladder, when Ms. Waring would announce their prize.
Complementing her own creativity, Ms. Waring learned new teaching methods from two fellow artists: lower-school colleague Mr. Antonio Fink and her husband Mr. Jeff Waring.
“Mr. Fink and I, we spend a lot of time together between classes. We’ll just visit and bounce ideas off of each other,” Ms. Waring said.
“My husband has been teaching lower school art at Westtown as long as I’ve been teaching here. We’re very different artists, so I see what he teaches and thinks. That’s so amazing.”
Ms. Waring’s students appreciate her energy, creativity, and willingness to expand her curriculum; the warm feelings are mutual.
“This is an amazing place to teach,” she said.
While Ms. Waring helped her students mature both personally and artistically, she noticed similar development in herself.
“I’ve kind of grown up a little bit. In my relationships with people and my understanding of myself, sometimes you don’t really understand yourself until you’ve got to be there for someone,” Ms. Waring said.
She also made an impact amongst her colleagues, who reciprocated the love she filled the hallways with every day.
“I had a crisis myself a few years back where I had breast cancer. Both the kids and the teachers really rallied around me. Some people that I had not gotten to know yet were some of the biggest supporters that I had.”
Her 1996 through 2021 tenure at Haverford has come to an end, but the encouraging, creative energy she brought will remain a staple for the art room.
Now, she will pursue a goal that sparked her love for art, bringing her professional career full circle. In 1985, Ms. Waring graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a bachelor of fine arts in illustration. She worked as a freelance illustrator, a skill she’s still working to perfection.
“I’m a little wary of having a specific goal, but writing and illustrating a children’s book has definitely been in the back of my mind for a long time…I really connect to my creativity the strongest is when I’m drawing with a simple pencil.”Ms. Jenny Waring
“I’m a little wary of having a specific goal, but writing and illustrating a children’s book has definitely been in the back of my mind for a long time,” Ms. Waring said. “I’ve done clay and multimedia, but my big love is drawing. I really connect to my creativity the strongest is when I’m drawing with a simple pencil.”
She has created several rough sketches on the side during her time as a teacher, but the time has come for her to pursue this life-long goal full time.
“I would tell my younger self to just be open and really try to break out of those traditional ways that you’ve always gotten a pat on the back about,” Ms. Waring said. “Don’t be afraid to try new things.”
Ms. Waring is tackling this new chapter with determination, but only after a relaxing outdoor summer in the Adirondacks with family and friends.
“Keep your focus,” Ms. Waring said. “Think towards the future, and remember to enjoy yourself along the way.”