Life After the Classroom

By |2023-03-31T12:09:25-07:00January 5th, 2023|


Life After the Classroom

Ever wonder what’s out there beyond teaching in the traditional classroom? Tune in as Arts Integration Certification alum Molly Lucareli shares her experience and what she’s learned along the way.

Resource Download

Enjoy this free download of the Arts Integration Certification Program resource.


All right. Hello Molly. How are you today? I’m great. How are you? I’m good, I’m good. So for people who are listening that may not know who you are, would you do a quick introduction of yourself, who you are, what you do, all that good stuff?


Absolutely. My name is Molly Lucarelli, and I have been a classroom teacher for 10 years prior to now, and I have started a new journey about five months ago in higher education.

I am a lover of all things art. Many people know me that I will break out into song, random musicals at various points out of my day, and I just, I really think there is a beautiful place in this world for art. It’s just so exciting to finally be a part of a community that also understands that as well.

I’m a proud level one graduate of the certification program and am in the middle of level two and learning so much. So it’s been a pleasure to be a part of this community, so I’m very excited to be here today.


I’m excited for you to be here too, because you’ve been with us for so long. So many different capacities cuz you were an educator in residence last year and did a lot of content work and workshops with us and then this year you’re working as a coach and prior to that you were in level one.

And so I kind of wanna backtrack a little bit into your teaching career and why you even started with arts integration in the first place.


Amazing. So I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a teacher. I fell in love with teaching. I went to a project based elementary and middle school and just knew that that was like, I wanna do this as well.

And so I went to college, got my degree and my actual first teaching job. On paper it was my, like a dream job. I went over to a neighboring state and helped them start their middle school dance program at their at their academy that they had. And, you know, it definitely was a little bit different in action versus on paper, but it definitely taught me right off the bat to be flexible and knowing that art can look and feel very different than what you plan for and what actually happens.

In the end ultimately though I knew that, you know, I think I wanna get more with a smaller, I had like hundreds of students and I wanted to be a little bit more of a smaller community in a classroom myself. So I spent time, the last 10 years in middle school, first grade. Fourth grade, then third grade, and then my last four years have been in fifth grade.

But I really felt that in my classrooms that I’ve had that I was creating, I was already actually doing a lot of the foundational arts integration steps because that’s how I wanted to learn and that’s how I found that students wanted to learn as well. So integrating art projects, I helped one of the school districts that I worked for, we put on our first musical social studies musical in third grade about the 13 colonies. And I, of course, every school I go to, I become best friends with the music teacher, because that’s just, it’s just what happens. Yeah. And I went to her and I said, Hey I wanna do a musical. She’s like, yes, done. Let’s do it. So we co, we co-taught, we were doing the, have the music specialist teaching the music portion, have the teacher teaching the social studies content.

We put it together and they actually continue to do it today, even though I have, you know, moved on from that school district. So it was so cool to have that. So my last 4 years of teaching, I found myself at a school that really wanted to really attempt to have a focus on the arts and their students.

And I felt like, oh my gosh, I can just go and reach my full potential at this particular place. And I really tried many different things and it was in my journey with the Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM as well that I was far reaching going, oh my gosh, I, I can do so much more than I thought I could do before.

So lots of novel studies, lots of theater arts. I got a grant to have my whole class or the whole fifth grade go and see the touring cast of Wicked when it came to our local performing arts center, just, I was always trying to reach for opportunities for students because we as educators need to advocate for them to get those experiences as well.

I guess that was a really long way of answering your question. 


No, I love that the, those details, because I think so many teachers will resonate with that, right? So the idea that we wanna do this and often, and I know that you’ve, I know that you’ve subscribed to this mantra, I’ve subscribed to this mantra of sometimes you just have to close the classroom door and just do it, even if it’s not necessarily something that everybody else is doing or everybody else is comfortable with, or it’s not the prescribed curriculum.

Sometimes you just know that it’s what’s best for your kids and so you close the door and you do it right. And so you found ways to do that in your school, and I think that’s amazing. Hearing about all of those different opportunities that you were able to do, talk to me a little bit about some challenges that you might have hit, because I have some that I know that most people hit with arts integration, but I’d love to hear what you might have struggled with.


Sure I, I know that there are many artistic people in the world. There are many creative people in the world, but sometimes when people don’t understand the vision or don’t personally have a connection to a specific art form or a hobby that involves an art form, whether it be music, visual arts, theater, dancing, acting, the whole gamut, it’s a little harder for them to see that it’s not just frills and extra and that there’s real meaning to it. 

And I always, I feel like my teacher voice grew over my 10 years and I was trying to start empowering other teachers to be like, no, you know what’s best for your students? You know what they’re learning day in and day out, and you’re the one that’s listening to them talk about that novel study that they did back in November as they’re still talking about it in, you know, April, when there was even one student last year that was preparing, you know, to do a written piece at the end of the year, and they were pulling from stuff that they had learned at the beginning of the year.

When people come in, whether it be admin, whether it be just guests of your school district and they come in to see your classroom, they see 20 minutes of a snapshot, of a slice. They don’t know the kids. They don’t know what they’ve seen before, what they’re getting after. 

It’s just that, it’s almost like if you jump in and watch one episode of a TV series that’s been on for 10 seasons, and you’re like, I don’t know who these people are. I don’t know what they’re doing, but I guess they know what’s going on, you know? So I feel like a challenge has been having others trust the process. Or come in and go, Hey, you know, Molly, you’ve showed that you are doing everything you need to be doing in your classroom, and somehow you’re making it work by bringing these experiences, right?

It’s been hard. It was hard to have that trust because yes, there wasn’t a concrete, well, here, this test or here this. I couldn’t give that to them in that moment, but I could say, I can tell you how these five students haven’t spoken about anything else, but if, if we didn’t have that opportunity, they wouldn’t have spoken at all.

Yeah. So it’s really that trust that no, no art is great and art teaches far surpassed just a lecture or just I’m gonna teach from my curriculum book as well. So yeah, big challenge as far as just trusting that somebody, it’s okay to let somebody try something a little bit different and maybe not judge it right away.


Yeah. I think that’s so interesting because it’s like an undercurrent, that’s an undercurrent challenge that people don’t talk about. Like the challenges that everybody always tells me all the time is, I don’t have time for this. I’m already dealing with a packed curriculum. I can’t fit it in. It’s too much work. There’s so much to do and I don’t understand the other content areas and all of that is, a 100% valid. And there are also ways around it, but I think what you’re talking about, which is really interesting, and I love that you brought it up, is this sneaky undercurrent.

That is, I think, goes beyond arts integration, but just in general, the idea of trusting teachers that they know what they’re doing. And I, I also understand the, the flip side of that. When we are, we also have a teacher shortage. And many people don’t necessarily have, who are currently teaching, don’t necessarily have the background and the credentials that others may have had in the past.

And so you, you have to walk that balance line. But the idea of coming into a classroom, and trusting that the person that you have placed in that position to work with those children all year long knows what they’re doing and trusting your own as a, as a leader, trusting your decision making process right around that person.

And also I think when teachers bring things to admin, Trusting that that’s done with a purpose, right?


Hey, we didn’t just go, ah, on a whim, I’m gonna do this. This has been cooking for a long time. I mean, I would lay in bed awake at night. When you should be sleeping because you get no sleep and you’re already overtired.

But I’m going, if I started doing this now in eight weeks, ooh, there goes my earring in eight weeks. I’m gonna, I’m gonna do this because then by then, okay, so I gotta start this now. Like teachers, we are constantly thinking and constantly planning what’s best for our students. And I think to your point, oftentimes a challenge is if people don’t understand, they go, well, why are you doing that?

That’s not what we… instead of approaching it as a, could you tell me more about what you’re doing? I, my mother has taught me from a young age, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. So if someone’s coming to you saying, I wanna learn more, I’ve not seen this before. Could you show me? Or can I come back and see this a couple more days to fully understand what’s going on instead of making that smack judgment and being like, well, that’s not in the curriculum.


Yes. Yes. And I think, like I just interviewed Sarah Jane Herboldt, who brought up this great idea that I think so many of us miss because we’re moving so fast. But it’s simple. It’s the idea of approaching people, anybody with curiosity. Just literally coming at it from a questioning, not as an accusatory question, but true curiosity of why did you do that and what, what has caused you to have that kind of perspective?

Just getting curious, I think affords us so many open doors and opportunities that we would otherwise miss because we’re not asking questions, right? Just simply asking questions can help build that trust too, right? Because if you’re, rather than coming at it with accusatory tone, if you’re coming at it from the idea of, I don’t, that’s something different.

And rather than be afraid of it, I’m just gonna ask questions surrounding why this person wants to do it.


And, and doesn’t that lead, doesn’t that lead to your students though? You want your students to approach the world as a, I don’t know about this. I’m not trying to be disrespectful. I’m not trying to shoot down your ideas.

I wanna learn more about this. Could you tell me about that? And I’ve always been an educator that wants to practice what I preach. So it’s hard when you’re met with adversity of, well, that’s not what we do. I don’t understand. It wasn’t, or it wasn’t my idea. So therefore I don’t want it to happen kind of a thing.

Yeah. So I, as you said before, I got very comfortable with closing my door and being a part of my little tiny community in my classroom, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So let’s jump to the next stage. So you were in the classroom for a really long time. Yes. And you’ve had lots of different experiences.

So what led you to what you’re doing now? And, and tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing now so that, cuz I know a lot of teachers who are like, oh, I’m curious about what other people do when they leave the classroom


Sure, sure. If you had asked me two years ago where I’d be in two years, I would tell you I’d still be in the classroom.

So this decision. One of the most difficult decisions that I have ever had to make, and I know that leaving the traditional K-12 classroom, it will always be there. I can always go back if I find the perfect situation. However, I found myself getting my master’s degree in educational technology starting in April of 2018.

It first came from a place of, I’m a teacher and I wanna keep, you know, keep learning and keep doing things and having some, you know, different positives that come from also having a master’s degree. And I had wanted to do educational technology because I’ve always been interested in integrating tech into my classroom.

When I was in undergrad, I had an amazing professor that taught an educational technology class, getting iPads, robotics in the classroom, teaching us how to use flip cams to make videos to do. I mean, it was my cup of tea. We were making audiobooks that had like digital, like we made the pieces out of, you know, paper machê.

And I was like, so it was pretty arts integration as well. And I was so interested. So when it was time to choose my master’s degree, I was like, well, of course I’ll do educational technology. This will be amazing. So I did that and it was like one course at a time. It was a slow burn. Who has time to do things all of the time while you’re still teaching full-time as well.

And then I found that, you know, the pandemic hit and I was still doing my master’s degree and I also was getting my level one certification. I was learning integration and STEAM, and I was teaching at home full-time virtually. 2020 was fun. Let me tell you, 2020 was very fun.

I have a poster board that had the to-do list on it. I still have it because I was like, I, it’s a, it’s a okay. Anyway so I found that I was I was seeking more and wanting to kind of integrate that tech, have that piece in, in the attempts that maybe, perhaps like one day I would, maybe if I needed to transition out of the classroom, I could become a technology integrator for a building and you know, just kind of keeping my options open. You know, right now my family is just me, my husband, and our adorable dog, and it was kind of one of those things where it’s like, you know, you know, if we find ourselves at a different point of our lives that we need to change things up a little bit, I’ve got options. 

After the pandemic and the teachers, I still will. Just kiss the ground. All teachers walk on through pandemic and even post dealing with, okay, how do we kind of try to rebuild from here? I was met with a lot of different challenges, not from my own kids in my own classroom, but just some outside kind of how things were run and just some general questions that I had about how education was going.

And I allowed myself to start exploring just other options of what that could mean while grappling going, oh gosh, I have this guilt. I wanna be with the students. I want to do this. But what’s truly best for me right now, which is something that I don’t think I ever allowed myself to think about the last 10 years in the classroom.

Cuz everything was always focused on the kids, which it should be. It absolutely should be. But it was a moment where I’m like, Hmm, I should maybe choose something for me right now. And as fate would have it over the last year I reconnected with that college professor that made me wanna get my master’s and she said, Molly, I have a job open on my department in its at, you know, at the college, the college that I went to, and I was like, what is going so I went through the whole, the whole regular process to get interviewed, made it through all the different levels, and I made it, and now I’m an instructional designer at the college that I graduated from.

So my primary job is to work with faculty on their coursework, help them integrate technology into it, help them use our learning management system and kind of keep the higher education curriculum. Kind of keeping moving and I’ve learned so much in the last five months about things I never thought I would ever learn about.

I have a coworker teaching me bash scripting right now. I know 0%, maybe 0 0 0, 0 0 0 0 1% of it so far, but it’s something that I never, ever thought I would ever do. So I am very excited to kind of keep learning and keep growing and I still miss the kids. Yeah. I still miss the kids a lot, but what’s actually exciting is we’re having conversations that potentially fall of 2023, my role could also involve teaching some courses. In our teacher ed department as well. So it’s kind of that I’m getting the best of both worlds potentially, and I’m just excited to allow myself to figure it out.


I love that. You know, none of us do that enough, Molly, and so I’m so glad that you were able to slow down enough to think about what’s right for you right at this moment, and know that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re locked into it for the rest of your life, right?

That you allow yourself to have a different experience. And wherever that takes you, it takes you. That is.


And that’s why, and this probably lends itself to maybe a another topic that we’ll talk about, but that’s why I was so interested when it came time for level two for the certification program knowing that, no, I’m not directly working with students right now, but now mentally I can support so many teachers in a way that I couldn’t do that before. And yes, I can still be connected with teachers and students. I still have a small pocket of wonderful teacher friends that I, I still am like, Hey, have you, do you remember this thing?

And they’re like, oh my gosh, thanks for reminding me. You know, we’re still supporting each other even though we’re not all at the same building necessarily anymore, but, the opportunity to learn level two and the coaching aspects of things not only is helping with my job at the college, cuz I’m coaching faculty, I’m coaching adults, I’m coaching adult students.

It’s gonna help with connecting with teachers who wanna go, I wanna do this in my classroom, but I don’t know how. So I’m kind of excited to see how those worlds can kind of.


Yeah, I, and that is a great point because level two, for those people who do not know, cuz we haven’t talked about this yet, so certification in, in our arts integration certification programs, we have two levels. So one is level one where everybody begins. And I think it’s the most intensive of everything we offer because we now also offer a steam certification. Where we learned a lot from Arts Integration Certification. And I think out of all of the certification we offer Level One Arts integration certification is the most intensive.

It’s also the most tactical and practical probably of everything that we offer. And then once you’ve graduated from level one, you are eligible to then move to level two after a yearlong hiatus so that you kind of apply what you learn, right? And in level two, it’s really about coaching. You’re working with our arts integration coaches who are working with level ones and level two.

I always thought of it as student teaching. It’s like the best portion of your teacher ed program when you get to like junior, senior year and you’re working on kind of watching a little bit and then stepping in and taking over for your, your teacher supervisor. And so and I didn’t create level two. So our Chief Academic Officer, Typhani Harris and Shawna Longo, they created level two. And so I would love to hear more about your experience in level two and how you feel about both levels and how they might work together and what you’ve learned in each.


Absolutely. When you said level one is like the one where it’s like, it’s tactical, it’s pretty. But at the same time I felt like I was prepared to take it on because teachers can spend thousands of plates at the same time and be like, everything’s fine. But I, I’ve I wasn’t prepared for how much support was given to me as a level one in our small community, in the wider community. If I had a question, my coach was there, ready to go, ready to help at any moment.

So like the, the piece of, yes, it’s intense, but holy cow, I feel really supported. I, I felt that the entire time. I also feel the intensity of it. I don’t think I would’ve gotten as much out of it if I had like, oh, I’m just gonna do this little chunk down and then wait a lot. I’m gonna do this chunk, I’m gonna wait a lot.

I appreciated the crash course piece of it cuz I felt like I could build on things so much faster. Now in hindsight, would I do that while also finishing my master’s teaching virtually online? Probably not. But if I can do all that, I, it’s really, I, I believe in anyone that they can.

Yeah, they can do it. So then switching to level two, well, after spending, taking that year off, but also kind of continuing practicing, having the wonderful opportunity to be an educator in resident starting level two. Really at a time where I knew I was in a place where I was kind of transitioning it, I was starting to take it mostly because I could see the benefit for where I was moving to, but I, I wasn’t prepared also for how much I was learning in level two as far as just communication skills and how to best communicate with others in ways that I never thought.

I kind of look at it almost like I know that there’s . I don’t know if you’ve heard of the book that was written about the five Love languages. Yes. How you kind of like talk you, like you’re speaking, you need to potentially speak somebody else’s love language. It’s not necessarily the same one that you would have.

And I’ve been making connections going, oh my gosh. People don’t want what I need. I need to give them what they need. And it’s been really interesting to see how that’s kind of helped evolve that thought process for me in my job, but also how I could utilize that in the future for teachers that are going through their certification as well.

So it’s been cool to kind of be a part of that intensive kind of small community. Again, level two is very different than level one. Yeah. I can tell you we were all a little nervous to start coaching somebody else at the beginning of it where I’m like, gosh, I haven’t been a student teacher in 10 years.

Yeah. So, hi. Okay. I’m gonna try to help you now. Like it was kind of funny to get our feet wet with it and continue working on it, but it’s been amazing and a blast. And I, I will, I’ve told numerous people, I’m like this is the community I didn’t know I need and will forever be a part of because it’s, it’s, it’s making things happen.

And I appreciate that a lot.


Oh, thank you. And yeah, I gotta tell you, I mean, this is, this is my joy right here is watching people go through it and their growth from beginning to end. I mean, I’ve been able to sit back and kind of just watch where you started and you were working with Holly as your coach.

A pulling things together and, and having those aha moments to leading others through that process. And it’s just, it’s a joy to watch, but it’s also great because it’s kind of like when. And you’re not there yet cuz you’ve had, you’re not that old, but when you have students who go through your program, whatever that is, and then they come back and teach with you it’s, they’re a colleague, but they’re also, you’ve had this wonderful experience of watching them grow.

It’s fun for me to be able to do that on this side of it. So I love the hearing from people, just what they got out of it and also what they are looking forward to and what they’re bringing to it and how it’s changing. Cuz every class is different. Every class brings something new and has that we haven’t had before.

It’s just, it’s, it’s incredible to watch.


So, but then also this tiny community where you’re all, I don’t wanna use the word commiserating together, but you have this group where you’re like, I’m not alone. Right. You feel this way too? Oh my gosh. And then listening to how other people are problem solving things or, oh, I snuck it in in this way.

You’re like, I never would’ve thought of that. So it’s almost like not only is it networking, but it’s your own personal growth. It’s giving you ideas that you can’t just sit and Google it, right? 


I love it. I love it. Oh, yay. Yay. I’m so glad. I’m so glad. So what is next for you, Molly? What are you working on next?

Where are you going?


Oh, that’s a great question. I don’t a hundred percent know, which is wildly terrifying for me cuz I am a planner. Yeah. To a fault. Yeah. And having a clear trajectory of what’s happening and going on. What I can say is I’m very happy in my position at the college that I work at, I’m learning a lot more about what it means to be an instructional designer.

I’m not a traditional instructional designer. Cuz when you, well of course when you Google what an instructional designer does, again, it’s a very, very wide range of responsibilities. There’s kind of the more course design aspect of it, and then there’s the one that’s more pedagogical. I’m more on the pedagogical side, so I’m trying to learn a little bit more about how do I do that?

And I’ve been having the great fortune to have faculty that have allowed me into their classroom simply to be a student because I’ve been so long in, I really can tell you what 10 year olds learn, no problem. But you know, first year, second year, third year, fourth year college student, no idea. I was in a Statistics for Science class one day and they’re talking about coding and all of these different pieces and I was like, I heard you say the word graph.

I know what a graph is, so I’ve been learning just so much about what students of today in higher ed are learning about and then also trying to think of ways to bridge that gap of, okay, students get a certain kind of hands-on ac, you know, academic setting in K-12, and then a lot of times when they bridge to higher ed there, it’s just a different environment.

Not to say that there’s not engaging things happening in higher ed. Wonderful learning opportunities. Yeah. But there’s definitely gaps that could potentially be helped with going, how do we incorporate more active learning? How do we integrate more technology into that? So it’s been cool to be a part of figuring it out and learning about some different things.

I am, I attended a conference all about higher education technology integration earlier in October, which I’m also like, I went somewhere in the middle of October. This is wild. I’m just, there’s new things being outside of the classroom that have been small joys that I didn’t realize I loved.

But I’m gonna continue kind of working on filling those gaps. I’m learning about how you go through different technological reviews at a higher ed institution. I’m practicing becoming a coach so that I can potentially, you know, work with future educators. Maybe somebody that’s listening right now and yeah, it’s, there’s good things happening. I’ve, I’ve, you know, kinda considered potentially down the road maybe getting my PhD, but, we’ll see about that.

I’m not jumping into anything. I’m allowing myself at least this year to just breathe. Yeah. A little bit. So that’s, I guess that’s what’s on the horizon.

A big old question mark, but one that I’m excited to figure out as I go.


And what’s amazing about a question mark is that there’s no wrong answer. Literally it could go anywhere. So that’s exciting. Yay. Yay. Now I heard a little birdie tell me that you have questions for me as well.


Yes. Okay. So you were a music educator prior to you taking over the world of arts integration and we’re all thankful for it.

When did you know it was time to step?


That was hard. Yeah. That was a period of time where, and I remember this conversation. Nobody’s ever asked me this, by the way, so this is exciting. It was a time when my daughter had just been born. I left the music classroom in 2009. Emma was born in 2008, so the, so sorry… She was born in 2009. I was married in 2008. It all blurs together. 

But I got to the end of my year with her and, and like you, I had done my, I’d, finished my master’s while I was pregnant with her and I was piloting this arts integration program at our school for the third year, and it was, it was being awarded from the Kennedy Center and it was all kinds of crazy.

We had just gotten a new dog. I had gotten married the year before, like it was all kind of coming together. This is sounding familiar. Yes. Yeah. Right. And so, I had been given an opportunity at a, at a random conference that I went to from a different system, a totally different county system who had just been watching me blog on what was originally EducationCloset.

And they were really impressed with everything. And they said, you know, we have an arts integration specialist position opening. It’s gonna be the first one of its kind in the state of Maryland, and we really want you to and it, it just seemed the opportunity came out of the blue and I remember going home and talking about it with my husband because the drive was gonna be an hour and a half one way versus the 45 minutes that I was driving to school.

Right. And I just, and I remember saying, you know, the, the pay is gonna be comparable. It’s until you get gas money in and the pay is gonna be comparable, but it’s something totally new that I’ve never done before. It would be at a county level that I could make an impact, like on K through 12 instead of just one building.

That could be really exciting. And he kind of nodded, to his, to his credit, he has always just kind of nodded whenever I’ve said, I wanna take this jump next, and I don’t know exactly where I’m going to land, but he’s great with that. I do remember looking at him saying, my daughter will never remember me doing a concert like at my last spring concert with my fifth graders.

I remember looking at him right before I went on stage with them. Emma will never know me as a music teacher, which at the time, like I, you know, I went to a conservatory of music. I, it was like a small group. This was what I wanted to do. Since fourth grade, I had wanted to be a music teacher. And so that was, that was a little heartbreaking.

But at the same time I also knew I couldn’t continue where I had gotten to a point where everything was stale, like even the lessons that I was trying to, to adjust again and again and again, still felt stale that I had reached the top of where I was gonna be in that district. It was very clear that I had reached, like I was at an admin level and that was it.

There was no other growth opportunities there. And I just, I needed that opportunity to do something different to continually grow. And so like you, I was like, I’m gonna hop out for like a year and if I don’t like it, I can always go back. Right. I can always, I can always jump back if I want to. And honestly, sometimes, even now, I still say that to myself, you know, if, if the rest of this, this whole institute thing doesn’t pan out…


Please let it pan out.


It’s panning out. Right. Don’t, like we’re, but if this doesn’t continue to pan out, I can always go back and do that. And there are occasions where I, I do like, I’ll work as a a director with our church choirs or, you know, my daughter has seen me as a musician in other capacities. So I love that.

But yeah, it was, there were a lot of, of factors that kind of led to that moment, but it was, it was sad and it was hard, you know, when you know what you’re doing is the devil. You know better than the devil you don’t. And in some cases it’s really not, it’s not better just jump.


It’s so interesting to hear that because I feel like, although two different stories, I feel like we were kind of at a similar point.

Yeah. Where it’s like, ah, and it’s, it’s, it’s interesting cuz I’m sure there’s so many educators there out there right now going, ah, I don’t know if I can do this anymore. Yeah. And I wish there, I wish, I wish I could ask them all. Okay. What could make it. What would keep you, like, what would make you go, this is actually my dream job.

This is actually, you know, yes. Where I wanna be and what I wanna do, and I bet number one, well, especially in elementary, no offense to middle school or high schools, you have to deal with people that are tall and and scary sometimes hormonally hormonal, whatever, but it, yeah, elementary only because I’m speaking from the hat of, that’s where I was for most of my…  you are not given enough prep time whatsoever to do anything.

And I think that if, if we could gift time to, to teachers in the work day, not come in for two hours before your contract time, right. Not go home and spend five hours of, you know, on non-contract time at home, making everything work for your day. If we could give them time and trust,


would we have to, that would be powerful.


We have a shortage then. So like you in that moment. , you can only press so hard. You can only push so hard to make it in a place. And it was that jumping point for me where it’s like, well, I can keep banging my head against the wall or I can try something completely different and if I fail , well then okay, let’s figure out plan C or plan D after that.

So yeah, that’s very, very interesting to hear though. But you’re right that that piece of, oh gosh, what am I leaving? 


Yeah, but in that question mark, but you know what I also just thought as well, there was also a period of time where I looked at myself in the mirror before I walked into the, into my classroom.

Like I would go to the bathroom and look in the mirror and say, are you really the best person that they could have in front of them right now? You know what I mean? Like, and I loved my job and I, and I did it with as much integrity as I possibly could, but I knew where, where it was in that moment.

Somebody else could have probably come in with a different energy level or a different perspective or a different set of experiences and maybe have done a better job with them in that moment, and my students deserved that. They deserved that, and I deserved to be able to look at and grow in a different way.

So, to your point, I think many educators, that’s a question. It’s a really, really hard question for all of us to answer honestly. But sometimes that answer will provide you with a pathway that you need. You know, and


To that point too, I was reaching a point where it’s like, is this bringing me joy like it did before? Yeah. And if the answer is, ah, no, we have one life to limp. Right. And we need to be doing things that are feeding us. And at this particular moment in time where I have jumped to is feeding my soul how it needs to be fed. Oh, I’m so glad. And we can, it’s okay to jump to the great big question mark.

Okay. Silly question for you. Okay. If you had to play a classroom instrument, , what is your go-to classroom instrument? I have an answer myself. I have an answer myself, but I wanna know what yours is. Okay.


Are these qualifying questions? I get categories. Okay. I was gonna say, are these, are these instruments that are typically available in a regular classroom or are they available in a band room?


Susan, I’m so glad you asked. I love categories for everything. I actually would like to know both. So first I want you to put yourself in an elementary music classroom separate from potentially a band room, so available in an elementary music classroom. What is your go-to?


Probably the xylophone if it, you know, I, the piano is my go-to, but like if I’m looking for classroom instruments, probably a xylophone.

I love that. Never a recorder ever. No. That is, those need to be banned. 

Again, recorder. I don’t know why we do this to, to educators… I get it. This is a great beginner instrument for students. I’m sorry. Educators everywhere. Especially music educators that have to deal with the, the sound of learning, let’s call it that.

The, the sounds of learning. The sounds of learning. My classroom instrument is an egg shake. 


Oh, I love that and I can totally see that for you.


I just recently was singing for an extra little wintery wintertime, Festivus. And there was a music educator that had brought some percussion instruments for us to do while we were acapella singing.

And there was an egg shaker and I was like, boy, oh boy, it’s my time to shine. Here we go, . And I was like, I was just, that’s perfect. Excited about that. Okay. Separate category. Okay. Band room. What are you standing towards?


Well, I’m gonna choose the flute cuz that’s what I played in bands. There you go. You know, but what about you?


I actually didn’t play a band instrument. I elected for orchestra and somehow I thought it would be a great idea to play cello and it was big to carry around. I only played from fifth through eighth grade. I was not particularly good. I wasn’t bad. I passed. It was fine. But it was, it was definitely not something that I needed to continue when my time was done for that.

Did I always wanna play the dying Swan from Carnival of the Animals on my cello? Would I ever sound good? No. I probably would sound as a dying swan if I were playing that on.


Well, you know, literal interpretation.


Literal, it’s, it’s just method. It’s really method cello. Last question. Okay. If you could see one musical right now, what would it be?

Now I get this, I need categories for this as well. Don’t get me wrong. But if you could go, like, you have tickets, your, you know, your daughter goes, mom, I bought you these tickets. We’re going tonight. Oh, the tickets are for, I know this is a horrible question that, I’m sorry. So would, this is really horrible question.



I hate answering it myself. Probably Hadestown. My daughter would want Six. That’s her Christmas gift. So sh… we’re not telling, we’re not gonna tell her. Yeah. We’re not gonna tell her at all. There’s a Yeah. But I would love Hadestown, one of the alternates in Six grew up in, in where I’m from. I actually, we ran some community theater productions together as children.

It was crazy. But Hadestown, I love it. Yeah. I actually see Aladdin next week, so Oh, very fun.

In New York or in where you’re at? In Wisconsin, the touring is coming for that as well. Could I come to New York? That would be fantastic. I would love to do that. But yes. Okay. I think those are my questions for you this morning.


Okay. Well, I have one last one that I always ask everybody. If there’s one thing about creativity that you want people to know, what is it?


That everyone is creative. Everyone has creativity in them, and everybody uses creativity every single day. Also, creativity is not just a right brain thing. You need your left side of your brain to use creativity as well.

So you make choices every day that are creative, even if you’re rerouting your way to work. If you are cooking something in your kitchen, if you are dancing in the bathroom, brushing your teeth, everybody is being creative every single day, whether they think it’s creative or not.


That’s perfect. That’s perfect.

Where can people find you, Molly? Who on social media websites? What we got? Yeah.


I have a teacher Instagram that was teacher now is instructional designer. I’ve coined it. I’m finally living my Cool Kid era. You can find me at life with lucarelli on both Instagram and TikTok.


Yes. You the tech queen lady.,


Yes. I, you know we try, there’s definitely less content now that I’m out of the classroom and can’t feed from some, like, you know, real life events. But it’s been, it’s been fun to stay, again, creative in many different, many different ways.


Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate it, Molly.


Thanks for having me. It’s been a blast.

The Art Works for Teachers Podcast helps teachers crack the code of creativity and use it as a hidden advantage in the classroom. Each week, we’ll use “creative clues” from authors, artists, and teachers to unlock the power of the arts and where it can take us in education today.

susan riley arts integration and steam Hosted by Susan Riley, Founder of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM