A Carrabassett Valley Academy art teacher makes room for creative exploration.
It’s a snowy morning in December, and Waylon Wolfe has just arrived at Carrabassett Valley Academy (CVA). Students are waiting to board buses so they can make it to “first chairs” at 8:30 and begin training. In the winter, this is a typical morning at the private school, where competitive ski and snowboard training are built into students’ daily schedules. “In general, the CVA life is very regimented,” says Wolfe. The students spend part of the day training, then they go to school, followed by study hall, and then go home. They get up and do it all over again the next day. Wolfe is the resident art teacher at the academy, and he sees firsthand how hard the students work on a day-to-day basis. CVA isn’t a typical school, so in Wolfe’s art classes, he aims to create an environment that allows for creative exploration. “When the students come through my door, I try for it to be therapeutic—a less structured environment, a place where their minds can be free and they can relax,” he says.
Wolfe’s large second-floor classroom over-looks Mount Bigelow, providing easy inspiration. Wolfe teaches a handful of art classes, including photography and studio art. His teaching style is reflected in the environment he creates for each group of students. “At this age, it’s so important to stay out of their way,” he says. As opposed to providing his students with sets of instructions, rules, and guidelines, Wolfe gives them the basics and lets them build their creativity from there. “Give them what they need and just tell them to go and create,” he says. The results are much more organic—and show what each student cares about creating, Wolfe says, “which is what you want.”