Alumni Stories: Meet Jessica Piren

Jessica Piren

Name: Jessica Piren

Graduation year & Degree: 2013, Bachelor’s of Arts

Major: Art Education

Marywood Clubs/Activities: PAEA, Campus Ministry Service Trips, Marywood Orientation Program

Current Occupation: Visual Arts Teacher, 2nd-5th grades

How long at current job: 6 years

Pine Tree School Instagram: @mrs.p_pinetreeart

What was your favorite part about studying art at Marywood? I think the best part about studying art at Marywood University is the variety of experiences that I got as a art education major. My schedule was always filled with different art and educational classes that gave me the tools needed to be a successful art educator. The Study Abroad program at (the now permanently closed due to COVID) Studio Art Centers International (SACI) was another amazing opportunity that Marywood University provided me to practice and study in the art capitol of the world, Florence, Italy.

How did your art education at Marywood help your career? From the variety of classes provided to me, it gave me the spring board that I needed to teach all medias. As a art teacher, it is vital to teach all ages a variety of art forms to create and foster the love of visual arts. My travels through the study abroad program as well as Campus Ministry ignited my love of helping others and spreading that passion to my students. Now as a art teacher, I provide the love of service and art wherever I can in my school district and within my art program.

What attracted you to this career path? Ever since I was a child, I always loved art class. Being able to create and express myself with different materials is what I always loved about art education. The art teacher’s that I also had growing up influenced me into this career path and I could not think of doing anything else!

Did your career path match your vision of a career path? What’s different? Everything I thought about art education has been accurate up until the last two years. Since the pandemic, teaching has been transformed in so many ways and how we implement art. Even though it was extremely difficult, I have learned a lot about myself as an art educator and the benefits to online learning and flipped classrooms. Also, my collaboration with my other art educators in my district is stronger than ever, and it has made me that much of a better educator because of it.

The Pine Tree Art Show!

What is your favorite thing about your current job? Compared to other education jobs, there is much more flexibility to be creative with your lessons. Thankfully, we are not tied down to state testing so we are able to craft lessons based on the sole needs of our students and art standards. I am also thankful for the flexibility of our lessons and how we can adapt based on each class we see.

Are you currently working on any interesting side projects? As of now, I am helping our PBIS team at my school district with their logo and visuals for our upcoming program “Pine Tree has Heart”. Personally, I am enjoying giving back to this program that is going to fully support our students in a positive way.

What are some of the biggest rewards in your career? There are so many rewards, it is hard to name a few. I think the biggest reward in art education is giving an outlet for students to create without judgement. As Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once they grow up”. It has been so rewarding seeing students time and time again enjoy art and coming to see me as their art teacher. Now seeing my students go up to the High School and continuing their art journey has made my career so fulfilling, and I cannot wait to see what is in store next.

What’s something that would surprise people about your day-to-day? I think what would shock most people about my day-to-day is how early and how late I stay at school. Being a art teacher is one of the most rewarding jobs, but it is also very exhausting. There is A LOT of prep involved and with over 800 students, it takes A LOT of time to prepare lessons.

What inspires you? Since the last few years, I am amazed by our students and my fellow colleagues. It is amazing what they have done over the last few years to adapt to the constantly changing landscape of education during a global pandemic. The perseverance, drive, and willingness to try when times got tough inspired me as a art teacher and got me through the hardest times of education.

Anything else you’d like to share? I am honored to a part of this blog, keep sharing stories within the art department and beyond!!

Any advice for current art students at Marywood? Get involved, participate in all things art within Marywood and outside of campus, study abroad, and take risks with your art! Take advantage what Marywood University has to offer and make it the best 4 years!

Visit Ms. Jessica Piren at the Pine Tree School on Instagram: @mrs.p_pinetreeart

“I think the biggest reward in art education is giving an outlet for students to create without judgement.”


The Art programs at Marywood University are designed to help students attain full development as creative persons through the integration of art studies with the total concept of a liberal arts education. It is through the creative, aesthetic dimension of human intelligence that greatness in culture is born. The human person communicates this dimension through the process of art. The artist, in his/her quest for a common abstraction or “truth” in nature and in humanity, functions to challenge and set standards of excellence in all aspects of human endeavor.

Through critical awareness and understanding of the physical world and its relationship to social, ethical, and economic conditions, the art student begins this quest. Artistic (creative) potential lies, often dormant, within every person from any cultural background or educational exposure. Once released, this powerful communication form reveals each individual’s cohesive relationship to the world in all its diversity and enables the artist as a more “fully developed” person to foster quality in and respect for, life.

By virtue of its diversity art applauds differences as well as similarities. It is also through this dimension that spiritual insights, social awareness, and dedication to personal, responsible communication develop and are expressed. As an active participant in the mission and philosophy of Marywood University, the goals of the Department of Art include preparation of individuals experienced in diverse creative processes through the various art media.

Students are involved intensely in self-discovery, self-evaluation, artistic research (affective and cognitive), and professional presentation of products. As a result, the art student develops a sense of responsibility, empathy and professionalism, which then should be reflected, upon graduation, by commitment and involvement as a professional in the larger community. It is this growing sense of responsibility for quality communication, balanced with creativity that will enrich future generations.

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