M.S.A.E., Massachusetts College of Art
M.A., Scuola di Grafica (Venezia)
TEACHER: Visual Arts Department Chair
MENTOR: National Arts Honor Society, Advanced Independent Project Program
COACH: Yearbook Advisor
Cristina Pinton grew up in Canton, Conn., where from the time she could hold a pencil, she was drawing. Her high school art teacher, Renee Hughes, pushed Cristina’s boundaries and opened her eyes to the world of jewelry, ceramics, drawing, painting and more. It was during this time that Cristina began to find solace in the art studio, often staying there for hours after school let out.
“It became my safe-house, my inspiration, my source of strength and courage that would fuel my way through adolescence.”
When the time came to attend college, Cristina traveled to New York and enrolled at Alfred University. There, she not only was able to major in art, but also take advantage of a well-rounded curriculum. She was a graduating member of the school’s honors program, and received As in her criminology courses.
Early on in her career, Cristina focused on at-risk populations, working with the Department of Corrections and alternative settings. Once she received her Master of Science in Art Education in Boston, she taught at a charter school in Hyde Park and the Boston Arts Academy.
“I knew both sides of the coin: teaching in the most challenging of circumstances, with both economic and behavioral challenges, and teaching some of the most artistically talented young folks. It was in teaching these populations that I began to see how important learning is. Education is not just about learning the course material, it’s about setting goals and achieving them. It’s about learning who you are and what your passions are. It’s about doing.”
In 2004, Cristina moved to Italy eager to soak up the culture that is the origin of her family. In Italy, she created and taught studio classes to college students in a study abroad program, focusing on hands-on, on-site, truly experiential and experimental learning. Lured by the food, art, language, history (and meeting her husband), she remained until 2011. While reluctant to move, they soon convinced themselves that their future was in the United States. Curiously, that mysterious and gorgeous school that lay hidden in the woods, the one Cristina grew up wondering about, called out her name.
“We came back to Canton as a temporary landing pad while we figured out where to go. I took a position as an art teaching filling in for a woman on maternity leave, teaching 600 elementary schoolers. I never imagined I would be staying in Canton. At the end of that, I myself was pregnant, so I was looking to settle down, and a position opened up at Avon Old Farms.”
In 2012 Cristina joined the AOF team, and her two children were born soon after, and the family’s roots on campus deepened. As the only daughter in a family of four brothers, and two sons of her own now, Cristina has remained right at home in Avon’s all-boys environment.
“While I never said outright ‘I want to be a teacher’ I had the means and support growing up to do a sort of trust-fall into where I belonged in the world; that happened to be teaching. I knew I would also be creating art, but helping others discover art along their own path has been extremely rewarding. I began teaching in 1999, and haven't stopped since.”
During her time at Avon, Cristina has been voted Connecticut Art Educators Association (CAEA) Art Educator of the Year in 2019, named the Independent School Rep for the CAEA, and received the AOF Fanning Faculty Award. She has led the development of the art curriculum as the Arts Department Chair, established the Ordway Art Gallery in the Brown Student Center, the Advanced Independent Project Program, and is constantly encouraging all Avonians to try their hand at the arts.
“I hope that in the physical space or within the hours of class or open studio, students find that art is an opportunity to experiment, to express, to investigate the world and their own ideas and recognize it as a space to form identities. I want the art studio, classes, and workshops to be inspiring and challenging for these young men who need to know that they have the potential to be powerful visual artists with powerful messages.”
- To maintain their link with Italy, Cristina and her husband speak only Italian (and sometimes Albanian) in their home and to their two boys, Orion and Xhulian.
- During the very first month of her eight-year stay in Italy, she met her now husband.
- In another life, Cristina would design and ink her own tattoos- back pieces and full sleeve designs with fantastical creatures, dragons, armoured women all in bold black and gray.
- She is the youngest with four brothers, and the only one in the family that can’t shoot a soccer ball into the goal or name every player traded in the Series A Italian league.
- Drove a 10-person van across the Tuscan landscape, while recounting the entire history of Italian wine and labelling categories, providing castel tours and barrel tasting of wine and olive oil as a part time job for a family-run Italian tour company for four of her eight years living in Italy.
- Has done things that still to this day surprise her upon reflection: took martial arts and karate for three years, danced ballet in pointe shoes for four years, sang in an accapella choir that toured around Tuscany, worked with sixth graders at the Cosmos Soccer camps who took shots on goal (er, shots on me).