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Creating ‘a-ha!’ moments

Outstanding Alumnae Award for Professional Achievements 2017

By Anissa V. Rivera

Vanderlip Taylor

Even as a kid, Kristin (Vanderlip) Taylor ’97 had always loved everything about art — “the creative process, the artistic challenge, the imaginative explorations.” So after her first term at the Mount as a psych major, she decided to pursue her true passion and switched her major to art.

Now, Vanderlip Taylor is a visual arts teacher at the K–8 Sylmar Leadership Academy and has designed curriculum for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the California Art Education Association (CAEA), the Natural History Museum and other groups. She is also an instructor at California State University, Northridge. The CAEA named her the state’s art educator of the year in 2016. The National Art Education Association, Pacific Region, named her its top elementary arts educator for 2017.

 “I’m energized by watching students (at all levels) work through their own creative processes,” she said. “I love seeing their discoveries and ‘a-ha!’ moments as they plan and create from their own interests and ideas. Seeing students navigate their way through artistic challenges, collaborating and giving each other meaningful feedback, always makes me feel so lucky to be an observer of their imaginative explorations.”

At homecoming festivities in October, the Mount will recognize Vanderlip Taylor with the Outstanding Alumnae Award for Professional Achievement. Also that day, her mother, Mary Lou (Starr) Vanderlip ’67 will be inducted — along with the rest of the Class of 1967 —  into the Golden Grad Society on the 50th anniversary of her graduation.

For Vanderlip Taylor, professional success has come from “saying ‘yes’ to opportunities, which have led me to people and places I may never have encountered otherwise,” she says. Her first opportunity came at the Mount.

Because the University didn’t offer a graphic design program in the ’90s, Vanderlip Taylor said her professors created independent study opportunities and internships for her.

These experiences paved the way for her to work as a production artist, art director and freelance designer before earning her teaching credentials in 2003. Vanderlip Taylor completed her master’s degree in art education in 2007 and became a National Board-certified teacher in early/middle school art in 2008.

She’s also learned that “success is realizing that once you achieve something, there’s something more to learn, to aspire to, or reach for.” She is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership, administration and policy from Pepperdine University.

For Vanderlip Taylor, the big picture always includes new adventures on the horizon.

“It amazes me to think that 20 years have passed since leaving the Mount,” she says. “Sometimes I feel like it’s not possible, until I think of all the projects I’ve worked on over the years. Along the way, I’ve gained mentors, colleagues, friends and family who have made my life richer. I’ve learned a lot of lessons, which have helped me grow both personally and professionally. The funny thing is, I really still feel like I’m just getting started!”

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