Spotlight on Humanities Alumni: Sarah Altone

altoneName: Sarah Altone ’09
Education (UR and additional): BA (Studio Arts and Art History), University of Rochester, 2009; Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T. – Art Education), Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Current city/state of residence: Boston, MA
Job Title: Elementary Art Teacher
Employer: Dedham Public Schools
Job Title: Teacher and Studio Assistant
Employer: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


When and how did you choose your major?

I procrastinated a bit on declaring both my majors, but I knew what I wanted to major in by spring semester, freshman year. I had been extremely focused on studio arts in high school, but I didn’t want to go to an “Art School.” I thought I might be done with making art academically… so I played with the idea that I would double major in art history and Classics/anthropology/philosophy/English, etc. However, it turns out that most art history courses are cross-listed with those departments, and I started craving some studio art classes again. Listen to yourself, and pursue your passions.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

I applied to art education graduate programs during my senior year, and had to make a tough choice between Columbia University’s Teachers College and Tufts/SMFA. Eventually Boston won, and I made the move about five days after graduation. My graduate program began that summer, and I feel like going from undergrad to grad school without a break was helpful for me. I stayed focused on what I wanted to accomplish. I graduated the following May, and landed a mostly full-time art teaching position. The next year it turned into full-time.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I teach 1st to 5th grade art at a public elementary school just outside of Boston. It’s an easy twenty five-minute commute and my students are amazing! I discovered during college that I loved teaching and working with children… I already knew I loved art. When I did ArtNY my junior year, I was an intern and then the teacher for after-school art classes with 6th and 7th graders. That experience really solidified my goals for the future.  This summer will also be my fifth year working at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I work with the studio art classes for children and teens during the summer program. And recently, I’ve been teaching children’s classes there on Saturdays and during school vacation weeks.

This summer will also be my fifth year working at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I work with the studio art classes for children and teens during the summer program.  And recently, I’ve been teaching children’s classes there on Saturdays and during school vacation weeks.

I’m excited for work every day – and my students are always excited to see me. I hope everyone can experience a job like mine. It’s incredibly fulfilling… and challenging.

How do you balance your work and personal life?

It’s hard. Keep your college friends around and make friends with your coworkers. College is such a unique time to be with these amazing people in one place – after college everyone spreads out and you don’t have the same opportunities to be with such a large network of your peers.  

Where would you like to be in five years?

Where? Maybe Boston, maybe somewhere else. I’d like to write/illustrate children’s books. I also can’t decide between another masters in early childhood education or special education – or both.

What advice do you have for current students?

Hang out in Starbucks and socialize. Write your papers in a secret spot in the library. Go to parties and wear ridiculous things. Make all your friends wake up before noon on Sunday and have a two-hour long brunch.  Go to Aja Noodle, a lot. Go to the gym.