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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

A STROKE OF ART: New teacher paints her path to Sunny Hills

New+art+teacher+Chablis+Bates+holds+up+a+piece+of+paper+to+demonstrate+to+her+Drawing+and+Painting+students+their+next+art+project+in+Room+22+on+Friday%2C+Aug.+25.+
Sue Kang
New art teacher Chablis Bates holds up a piece of paper to demonstrate to her Drawing and Painting students their next art project in Room 22 on Friday, Aug. 25.

This is the second in a series of profiles on new, full-time instructors hired at Sunny Hills during or before the fall semester of the 2023-2024 school year. Expect more profiles to be posted soon.

She was “draw”n into a whole new world — one filled with paint splatters and empty canvases ready to be explored.

Playing sports all throughout middle and high school, new art teacher Chablis Bates said she yearned to step back from the world of softball gloves and soccer balls and commit to the vast field of art. 

While juggling junior varsity softball and club soccer outside of school, Bates said she picked up interest in the Academy of Arts at Fullerton Union High School [FUHS] after her photography pursuits peaked during her sophomore year. Arts and crafts projects for grocery stores were also something she enjoyed doing on the side.

“High school is when I actually got into art with all the different things I did like having a job at JC Penny as a photographer and also winning art contests at grocery stores,” she said. 

This passion has led to her transition into being an educator, filling the position that opened up when former art teacher Brian Wall retired last semester.

Being part of the Future Educators of America club at FUHS, Bates recalls attending a lunchtime seminar in her sophomore year that sparked her interest in pursuing teaching but wasn’t sure in what area to focus on. 

“I remember [the speaker] telling us that if we wanted to be a high school teacher, we had to have a subject that we really loved,” she said. “But I knew I didn’t want to teach English or history, so I didn’t know if I fully wanted to be a teacher because I didn’t think art and teaching could be together until later.” 

It wasn’t until FUHS Class of 2007 graduate Bates entered California State University, Long Beach [CSULB], as a photography major that she quickly realized her passion for the visual arts.

“I think about switching to art all the time because it’s hard to tap into creativity so being able to teach kids how to be expressive, use their voice and socialize with one another makes me feel thankful,”  said the new instructor, who teaches three periods of Drawing and Painting and two of 3-D Design.  

PICKING UP THE BRUSH 

Before college, Bates said she never considered art as a career outside of photography. However, she said her painting class opened her eyes to the world of drawing and colors.

“When I started majoring in art is when I had to take the drawing classes and that’s when I found out, ‘Oh, I can be creative in other ways, too,’” she said.

Within the art department, Bates said she entered her work in a few exhibitions that allowed her to showcase her skills and learn from feedback.

In class, I emphasize my little acronym I created: ART. A stands for ambition, R stands for respect because I want my students to respect their peers and T for trust because I think trust is really important between my students and me.”

— art teacher Chablis Bates

“I didn’t participate in a lot of exhibitions because I wasn’t a full art major but the few times I was, it was just to hang my work and have everyone look at it,” she said. “It was exciting because all the big portfolios I worked on over the year were finally being displayed.”  

PAINTING HER PATH IN EDUCATION

After switching majors from photography to art education, Bates completed her bachelor’s degree in 2012 and received her teaching credential from CSULB in 2014. 

In the fall of that same year, she got her first teaching position at John A. Rowland High School in Rowland Height, where she taught all levels of drawing, including Advanced Placement [AP] studio and International Baccalaureate visual arts. 

“In class, I emphasize my little acronym I created: ART,” Bates said. “A stands for ambition, R stands for respect because I want my students to respect their peers and T for trust because I think trust is really important between my students and me.”

Her time at Rowland also provided her the valuable experiences she applies to her classes today. 

“It was a whirlwind; it was a lot because I taught four different classes at four different levels there,” Bates said. “But I’m so glad I was able to handle everything and work with the students and faculty … because it really did teach me everything I needed to know.” 

While working at Rowland, she acquired her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in 2020 from an online course offered by Grand Canyon University.

“I wanted to embellish my skills as an educator, so I decided to get my master’s and of course, I wanted a higher salary,” Bates said.

SWITCHING TO A NEW CANVAS

Though she had taught at Rowland for nearly a decade, Bates said she was open to working in a new environment.

“I was told by two teachers in the district about Sunny Hills’ culture, and they both told me about how positive and spirited our school is,” the art teacher said. “It just seemed really fitting for my personality and the way I like to teach so ultimately, I thought it was perfect [to apply to work here].”

Bates’ friend, a teacher from Buena Park High School, told her about Sunny Hills’ need for a new art instructor, she said.

Principal Craig Weinreich said Bates had an advantage over others because of her knowledge of the Fullerton Joint Union High School District [FJUHSD].

“She has been teaching for a while now, and she has classroom experience, which is really huge for us,” Weinreich said. “She’s also from the district because she went to Fullerton [Union] High School, so she just has that connection with us already.” 

During her first year here, Bates said she looks forward to participating in the various activities on campus, such as Dancing With the Staff and spirit weeks, while growing closer with her students.

“I’m really excited to be a new addition to the school and experience all the fun little events Sunny Hills has,” she said. “I want to get to know all my students step by step and just become part of the school culture.”

I’m really excited to be a new addition to the school and experience all the fun little events Sunny Hills has. I want to get to know all my students step-by-step and just become part of the school culture.”

— Chablis Blates

Sophomore Jocelyn Cruz, who is in Bates’ fourth period Drawing and Painting class, said Bates has an approachable nature.

“I really love her class, and she makes it really comfortable to be in her class,” Cruz said. “I just look forward to being able to talk to her.” 

For senior Daniel Lewis, he said he enjoys the freedom Bates grants her students for their art projects. 

“I’ve come around to like drawing because it’s nice and relaxing compared to school,” Lewis said. “The thing I like about her that’s a bit unique is that she just lets us do our own thing and have fun.” 

Outside of school, Bates said she enjoys listening to music whether it be at home or at concerts with her fiancee. Since her father and fiancee work in the music industry, it has fueled her love for music from such artists as Kanye West, Fall Out Boy and Morgan Wallen.

“I love music playing at all times and I hate when it’s dead silent, it just doesn’t feel like my room,” said Bates. “I will play all my favorite music to avoid that awkward silence.” 

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Stacy Kim, Feature Editor
After her first year as staff reporter for The Accolade, senior Stacy Kim is eager to return, prepared to serve as the 2023-2024 feature editor. After working closely with the feature editors last year, Kim was inspired by the compelling stories within the section and hopes to further expand her writing skills. During her time on staff, Kim hopes to share more stories of life on campus and enhance her reporting skills.  Outside of The Accolade, Kim participates in various clubs and organizations such as the California Association of Student Councils and Cooperation Act. She also enjoys creating playlists, taking naps and eating Korean food.
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