Student 7

Vincent van Gogh, Three Pairs of Shoes, 1886-1887, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Bequest from the Collection of Maurice Wertheim

Step Into Art Teachers

ABIGAIL S. RISCHIN, Founder & President

Abby Rischin is the founder and president of Step Into Art, Inc. Abby designs and teaches Step Into Art programs, builds partnerships with schools and community organizations, and leads a devoted team of educators, professionals, and volunteers. Since founding Step Into Art in 2005, Abby has developed programs introducing over 2500 children and young teens to art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Harvard Art Museums, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Abby established Step Into Art programs through a successful five-year partnership with the Newton Mayor’s Office for Cultural Affairs and subsequently expanded Step Into Art to reach children in schools all over Boston. Making school partnerships the organization’s singular focus from 2010 forward, Abby currently leads and teaches programs that serve 400 students at seven Boston schools each year. Abby holds an A.B. degree magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Yale University. Recognized for her outstanding teaching, Abby received the Yale College Prize Teaching Award. She also created a popular Yale College seminar, “Narratives of Art: Nineteenth-Century Fiction and the Visual Arts.” She has garnered generous research and study grants from numerous institutions, including the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Abby lives in Newton with her husband and their two daughters, all of whom participated in the creation of Step Into Art, Inc.

SUSAN FOSTER JONES, Senior Educator

Susan Foster Jones has been a valued teacher and advisor for Step Into Art since 2007, when she was one of SIA's first interns. A Museum Educator with over a decade of experience, Susan joined Step Into Art as Senior Educator in the fall of 2014. From 2009 – 2014, Susan was the Director of Education at the Concord Museum in Concord, MA. She continues her work in Concord as the part-time Manager of School Partnerships, working primarily with students from Lowell. Previously, Susan worked with inner-city students from Boston at the Commonwealth Museum, where she taught engaging hands-on history programs. Susan earned a Master's degree in the Arts in Education program from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BA in Art History from Mount Holyoke College. She and her husband Tim live in Concord with their son, Henry.

VINEETA VIJAYARAGHAVAN, Novelist

Vineeta Vijayaraghavan, a novelist, leads the writing component of Step Into Art’s sixth-grade programs. Joining English teachers at Epiphany School and Mother Caroline Academy, she invites the students to write a creative composition inspired by the paintings they have studied. Vijayaraghavan’s novel Motherland was published by Soho Press in 2001. The Boston Herald called it "a tour de force, taking the reader into those rituals of grief and release where one marvels at the particular and recognizes the universal." Motherland won a 2002 Alex award from the American Library Association, honoring the best books published for adults with special crossover appeal for teens. The novel was also selected by the New York Times as a “New and Noteworthy” paperback. Motherland has been taught at both universities and high schools, and Vijayaraghavan has been invited to present to school assemblies, book groups, and ethnic associations. In 2010, Motherland was chosen by Skokie, Illinois as their citywide reading selection for the year. Vijayaraghavan was born in India and raised in the United States. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters.

LINDSEY KOCUR, Artist-Educator

Lindsey Kocur is a practicing artist working primarily in mixed-media painting, drawing and installation. She is also the Director of Visual Art at the West End House Boys and Girls Club of Allston, MA, where she designs and implements visual arts programming for under-served youth, ages seven through eighteen. She devises cross-disciplinary projects that incorporate educational concepts and impart life skills through art in disciplines including painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography, printmaking, and ceramics. She previously served as an Americorps Teaching Fellow at Mother Caroline Academy from 2009-2011. She holds an MFA in Studio Art from Tufts University in partnership with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, as well as a BS in Studio Art from Skidmore College.