Women's Activism NYC

Elma Goff

By: Linda Wyatt | Date Added:

The sound of wheels rolling down the hall at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday got my adrenaline rushing, my heart pounding. What would it be today? Paints? Glue and glitter? Papier-mâché? Clay? The cart was full of magic, and the magician was Mrs. Elma Goff, my elementary school art teacher. She had a little art room on another floor, but it was too small for 30 kids to work in, so she wheeled her supplies down the hall and into each classroom once a week. In my family, the arts and literature were scoffed at. Practical careers were encouraged, and there was little money for creative interests. I kept my love of art silent and secret, but it bubbled out one hour a week in school art class. Mrs. Goff was a quiet mentor. She didn’t pull children aside and give them special attention, but she nonetheless made each one feel special and talented. We were given the materials to work with, and time to putter and experiment without judgement. Everyone was an artist, and each work admired and displayed. When I think of what I want to be like when I’m very old, I imagine Mrs. Goff. Although she probably wasn’t very old, in the mid-1960s she seemed an ancient and wise “Bohemian artist” to me. It was rumored that, when not teaching, she even flew her own airplane! She certainly was an unconventional, magical woman and a wonderful teacher who helped me believe in my own talent.

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