From dentistry to teaching
By Julie Matuszewski; photo courtesy of Scott Draper
“Timber Trail Elementary is an amazing place and I couldn’t be happier to be there,” stated Scott Draper, the newest addition to Timber Trail Elementary as the school’s art teacher.
Draper has not always been a teacher. He traveled an unconventional path to becoming an elementary art teacher and absolutely loves where he has arrived.
Growing up, Draper spent summers in Texas with his grandmother. There, he found his love for art. His grandmother laid the foundation, introducing Draper and his cousin to acrylic painting, ceramics, macramé and sewing. This love to create has been with Draper his entire life. In third grade, Draper thought he’d become a dentist, and in his young mind, it seemed the logical extension of his passion for art.
Draper received his doctoral degree in dental surgery from the Universtiy of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) at Houston and a Master of Science in Prosthodontics from UTHSC at San Antonio. Upon finishing dental school, Draper joined the U.S. Air Force.
Specializing in prosthodontics, a specialty in dentistry dealing with prosthetics or replacements for teeth, Draper felt it was the most artistic area of dentistry. It required working with his hands to sculpt teeth that fit functionally as well as aesthetically. “Crowns, veneers and dentures all require an artistic eye to obtain an excellent result,” stated Draper. “Color and symmetry are critical in dentistry as in art.”
After 13 years of private practice, Draper decided it was time for him to further explore his passion for art. Christine, Draper’s wife of 25 years, was a big part of his decision to make a major career change. A middle school teacher for 24 years, Christine had suggested Draper find a new career – that he become an art teacher. Draper passed the required certification tests and began his one-year alternative licensure program at the University of Colorado at Denver while working at an elementary school part time in Colorado Springs.
Draper wasn’t new to teaching. Although he had never taught children before, he taught math while stationed in Korea to military service members. Additionally, while Draper was stationed at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs following his residency, he developed the general dentistry residency program, teaching newly graduated dentists entering the Air Force.
The couple does not have children of their own, but consider their students as their kids. Draper loves the impact he has on children’s lives. Teaching students to be kind, respectful, compassionate and a valuable part of the community is as important as art, according to Draper. He views art as a bridge to other subjects like math, science, language arts and social studies. He sees art as a way to reinforce interest in a subject where a student may have lost a desire to learn.
“I feel this is where I belong, sharing my passion for art and life with my kids brings me tremendous joy,” shared Draper.