Retiring Teacher: Lisa Caruso


Photo courtesy of Beth Brown.

Ogonna Nnodimele, News Editor

This previously ran in our 2022 June Senior Issue.

After 24 years at Emmaus, beloved ceramics teacher Lisa Caruso prepares for retirement, leaving with valuable memories of her students and passion. She moves on in life, hoping the lessons she has imparted to young artists will motivate them to pursue their own careers. 

As an art teacher, Caruso has taken part in many creative endeavors, including running Mud Club, participating in special projects with students, and creating several forms of pottery. Going forward, she plans to continue her career in art while making time for her other interests. 

Caruso recalls her favorite memories from when she first started teaching at EHS. She remembers her first-year students as “daring and experimental,” working with them to produce impressive pieces. 

But it’s not only those students who Caruso was able to connect with. Over time, she has impacted students in several aspects, even those outside of their artistic journeys. 

“I think as art teachers we don’t imagine all the kids going forward and becoming artists,” she said. “What I try to instill is a responsibility for oneself. That way I think they [students] realize their ideas are their own.” 

At the same time, Caruso has faced difficult challenges, including pushing students to take risks and accept failure. 

“There are times when students are afraid to make a mistake and they just want you to come and help them and hold their hand,” Caruso said. “I had to encourage mistake-making.” 

However, her perspective on teaching changed over her career. Initially, Caruso remembers thinking that teacher-student relationships should exclude personal matters. She came to learn that kids see their mentors “as more human,” which helped her create strong relations with her pupils. 

Caruso also had the unique experience of seeing her son go through EHS. She feels that experience has also changed her view on students. 

“I learned two things,” Caruso said. “That I could expect more and I could be more understanding if students fall behind. I think it’s a good idea for people to experience that.” 

These types of connections allowed her to lead Mud Club, a group centered around creating various forms of ceramics. Caruso describes how their annual fundraiser, Empty Bowls, impacts the community. 

“Something as humble as clay, we can turn it into projects,” Caruso said. “Then we raise money to help here in our own school district. Kids are like, ‘wow, we did that.’” 

Although she will no longer encounter special moments with her students, Caruso has big plans for her retirement. She looks to focus more on some of her hobbies with no specific schedule. 

“I’m gonna do what I wanna do when I wanna do it,” Caruso said. “Now, I don’t have anyone saying I can’t because you have to go to work today. I intend to garden hard, do more clay, [and] do some online business.” 

Caruso would also like to hold private classes in her studio. But none of these ventures can replace the one thing she will miss most from her career: 

“The kids no question.”