Massey known for creativity, versatility, green thumb

Former Lamar teacher, self-proclaimed ‘art geek’ looking forward to rigors of Fine Arts Academy curriculum


Sophie Leung-Lieu

During her seventh-period Drawing 1 class on Aug. 31, art teacher Sarah Massey demonstrates to her students (including Olivia Ballard shown here) how to create the portfolio that they will use to hold all their drawings they create in the class.

Sophie Leung-Lieu, staff reporter

After being a part of the Lamar-McCallum vertical team for over five years, Sara Massey made the transition of teaching visual art at a fine arts middle school to a fine arts high school. This year, Massey is taking on Art 1, Drawing 1 and AP Art History.

Sara Massey may be new to Mac, but she comes with a wealth of prior teaching experience; in fact, she was named the 2021 Texas Art Educator Association High School Teacher of the Year.

“The content in high school is more rigorous, which I love,” Massey said. “I was always known for pushing the content a little higher, and I have always had high expectations.”

After the departure of Ana O’Keefe, the McCallum art department searched for a candidate who already knew some of the students and what they were doing.

“It was a really great honor that they wanted to interview me,” Massey said.

Since most Lamar students attend McCallum for their high school years, Ms. Massey recognized many faces from her time at Lamar.

One of Massey’s past students, Edie Birkholz, recognized her former art teacher and was reminded of her days in middle school. Massey was Birkholz’s teacher during the first stage of COVID and helped her through her first experience with online art classes.

“I remember she gave us a lot of creative liberty and made us think more conceptually,” Birkholz said. “Her prompts ended up with more variety, and she helped me explore different mediums.”

What makes art special is that it is universal and it’s a very freeing content area to be in.

— art teacher Sara Massey

The art program at McCallum has been familiar with Sara Massey for more than five years. Mr. Martinez, one of McCallum’s longtime art teachers, has worked with her through the vertical team at Lamar and McCallum. Martinez and Massey are collaborating on the Drawing 1 class and are co-sponsors for the National Art Honor Society.

“Ms. Massey has a lot of great ideas for the future and the many directions the organization can take,” Mr. Martinez said. “Ms. Massey will bring in a different perspective, a breath of fresh air.”

A variety of Massey’s ideas and inspirations are rooted in the large variety of art she has created. Massey is a jack-of-all-trades. Her art samples include a little bit of everything. When she attended college, she enjoyed sculptures, installations and 3D art. Once she began teaching, Massey created more watercolor paintings and printmaking.

Massey attended school for landscape, design and architecture before she decided to go into art. In her time in college, Massey learned she’s got a major green thumb.

“I geek out on knowing the Latin names of trees,” Massey said.
One aspect of studying landscape architectural design is having the ability to identify the different types of trees. Massey’s strategy for memorizing the Latin names was to draw the trees and write out the words.

She gave us a lot of creative liberty and made us think more conceptually. Her prompts ended up with more variety, and she helped me explore different mediums.

— Edie Birkholz

“My sister’s an arborist, and we geek out about this whole thing,” Massey said.

During her obligatory new faculty member tour of the schools, Massey couldn’t help but observe the beautiful trees in the McCallum area.

“There are some really nice established trees here,” Massey said. “You could literally sell shade in Texas!”

In her early years of art creation, Massey enjoyed creating big installations. Installations are works of art that fill up a certain space. This can include 3D art such as sculptures or 2D art such as murals. Installations create not only a piece of art but an experience that has been orchestrated by the artist.

“I was asked to do an installation at a gallery in Houston. It was a big production that I really enjoyed,” Massey said. “I really like these installations because it was a collaborative effort between the people who own the space and the artist.”

For Massey, art is like a ubiquitous language.

“What makes art special is that it is universal and it’s a very freeing content area to be in.” Massey said. “You aren’t confined to certain things and there are so many different medians, concepts, and styles to explore.”