Kassandra Hostage has been a teacher at The New England Center for Children for five years, and currently serves as NECC’s art teacher. Hostage brings educational training and licensure as both an art teacher and a special educator and is also an artist herself. A colleague nominated Hostage because she “is passionate about bringing visual art experiences to our students and has already exposed our students to many mediums such as watercolors/acrylic paint, oil/chalk pastel, printmaking/ink and rollers, bookmaking/drawing utensils, clay, collage/mixed materials, fashion design/mask making, and comic book art/drawing utensils!”

Each year, NECC holds an Art Show in which student and staff art are shared with the community and available for auction, with proceeds benefitting the school. This year’s Art Show is being held on Thursday, May 5 at The Community House in Southborough. More than 50 pieces of art from students, staff, and local artisans will be on display at this free event. Can’t make it to the show? View the gallery and bid online for items! 

How long have you worked for NECC?

Five years. I started on Francine Road in the residential program and was a Homebased and IIP North teacher prior to becoming the art teacher.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love being able to teach kids something I am passionate about. I have been a painter and loved art my whole life, so to be able to help other kids gain an appreciation for the arts and be exposed to the many, many mediums in the art world is a gift.

Why did you choose a career in helping children with autism?

I fell into teaching kids with autism by happenstance – I was a para-professional for a long-term sub position before coming to NECC and became so invested in everything the career-path had to offer. I think being able to help kids gain skills to benefit their everyday lives is a career that is so much bigger than anything else I could have done. I feel rewarded at the end of each day.

Why is it so important to share art with children with autism?

Art is important to everyone and everything in this world. The clothes we wear, the packaging on our favorite food we eat, the furniture in our homes – they were all given to us by some sort of an artist. Without art and artists, the world wouldn’t be what it is. Teaching the students at NECC about the art world means giving them an extra layer to their education.

The NECC Art Show is this week. What do you love about this event?

This is my absolute favorite event of the year (but maybe I am biased!). The sense of community and support is just incredible. I get to showcase my own work, admire the work of other working artists from the area, and show off my amazing students work that I get to see them working so hard on every day. What more could you ask for?

Have you taken advantage of any of the grad programs or teacher training at NECC? If so, how has it helped you as a teacher?

I completed the master’s program through Simmons last spring and will be entering the Western New England University program this coming fall. I owe my ability to come up with well-rounded and thoughtful lessons to the Simmons program, undoubtedly.

What is something about you that your colleagues might be surprised to learn?

I am an avid runner! I ran my first marathon a couple years ago and hopefully will continue to train and run the Boston Marathon at some point in my life.

Who is someone you look up to?

My mom. My mom is my hero. She has taught me what it means to be selfless and to put others first. It is the root of being a good person.

What is your life philosophy or a motto you like to live by?

One day at a time. When life becomes overwhelming and you think that you can’t do it, take a deep breath, and remind yourself, one day at a time.