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The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Stephanie Ellis continues to inspire students

Ceramics+teacher+Stephanie+Ellis+attempts+to+help+a+student+with+their+project.
Sofia Ruefli
Ceramics teacher Stephanie Ellis attempts to help a student with their project.

Starting her 23rd year teaching ceramics, Stephanie Ellis inspires students with her impressive wheel skills and inventive art pieces. Over the years, ceramics classes have continuously been filled to the brim by WJ students.

Ceramics students experience a unique class where creativity and collaboration between students are constant.

“Can you, in any other class, make something physical and then eat ice cream out of it?” Ellis said.

During the pandemic, Ellis still taught students how to make ceramic sculptures and multimedia items, which was very difficult over the computer.

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Senior Luca Server is now taking her second year of ceramics after taking it online her first year.

“Ceramics in person are definitely so much more fun but challenging. Overall, I’m having so much fun and I wish I took it last year, too,” Sever said.

Ellis’ original plan was not steered toward the world of education. However, at a funeral, her aunt came up to her and told her that she needed to teach. This inspired her to go back to her home at the time in Austin, Texas, where she started teaching at Westlake High School. Ever since then, Ellis has been actively creating art and teaching students.

Ellis uses the internet to get inspiration along with different cultural aspects to inspire her.
“I really like making inanimate objects but also big sculptures – making them out of coil pots. But it is hard to say… I’m also really into textures. I always include a sculptural element,” Ellis said.

Junior Isla Bartholomew also enjoys ceramics classes.

“I’ve taken ceramics for the past two years and I’m not a very artistic person and I’m so happy I’ve been able to learn from Ms. Ellis,” Bartholomew said.

Ellis has big plans for the future when she decides to retire from teaching. She has had a great desire to travel the world for some time.

“I plan to not get up at 5:30 every day since I’ve been doing that for 23 years to get to WJ and then I plan on doing a lot of traveling… I’d like to go to Kenya,” Ellis said.

Over her past 23 years at WJ, Ellis has achieved many things such as sculpting totem poles in Strathmore with her more advanced classes. This was a lengthy process since her team was creating multiple statues. Ellis thinks of this project, which she achieved with 16 other MCPS schools, as one of her all-time favorite memories of teaching.

“That was a lot of fun because it was a big project and my students became my assistants… I had to test the clay and the glazes to make sure it could withstand being outside and my students were right there with me so that was really cool,” Ellis said.

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Sofia Ruefli
Sofia Ruefli, Staff Writer
Senior Sofia Ruefli is excited to start her first year with the pitch as a Staff Writer. In addition to writing for the pitch Sofia enjoys playing soccer and hanging out with her friends.
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