Lisa Clancy: Creative Chick

I think I can safely say that everyone who knows Lisa Clancy feels inspired by her enthusiasm for learning and life. I met her shortly after we moved to Beaufort while she was my son’s creative arts teacher. We became friends almost instantly, bonding over a love of creativity and a desire to see creativity nurtured to a greater extent in the education of our children. Together we have written grants to help fund creative endeavors in our schools, started an after school program called The Creativity Club to foster creative thinking, and bounced countless ideas off of each other about all manner of arts related topics. I have never met anyone who loves learning about new things more than Lisa does and my inbox can attest to this! Lisa is also a glass artist, a cake artist, a director of school plays, a performer, a teacher, and a mom. She currently works at Riverview Charter School where she serves as the Creative Arts Teacher.

Thanks for taking time from your super busy schedule to talk to us Lisa! Now that you work in a school and have children in middle school and high school, if you could go back and give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

1.) Simply said: This too shall pass….

2.) More profound: A friend summed it up perfectly in one of his books: ““It is better to be respected than it is to be popular. Popularity ends on yearbook day, but respect lasts forever.” (John Bytheway)

Middle and High School can be pretty tough years. I lived them in a way that I was respected, but I probably could have benefited more emotionally knowing deep in my heart that I was perfectly OK being ME.

Hey that’s two things! (Actually, Lisa gave me the option of picking, but they were so good that I included both.) Now, what is your favorite way to flaunt your brain power? I’m in my element when I’m doing anything creative – painting, drawing, glass work, photography, or doing anything musical or theater related – you name it. (Even cake decorating – I’m pretty good at that!!) Overall, I just love learning! I usually lean towards those more “creative” opportunities, however, I love exploring new places and meeting people from all walks of life. It makes life worth living!

How is brain power an asset to your career? Any teacher has to use his/her brain power daily to be successful but my personal job title- Creative Arts Teacher- gives me ample opportunity to use my brain power to its fullest – (sometimes even on overload). When I am inspired creatively it fuels the work I do. You can’t underestimate the value of a great support staff as well. I am very fortunate in that way. Sometimes it starts with just a small idea and grows from there. Just recently, my second grade teachers and I collaborated on a poetry project. The original plan was to have the kids recite poetry but the grand event, our Poetry Palooza was a total hit. Along with poetry recitations, the children wrote and decorated poetry for a display, they created a poetry book for their families and we made (my fav part) two videos showcasing idioms and another highlighting tongue twisters. It was fun taking a small idea to new heights!

You’re right about teachers having to use brain power daily! Can you tell us a story about a time when nerdiness turned out to be an advantage for you? When I got the tutoring job for the Bob Zemeckis’s son, when they were in town doing the movie, “Forrest Gump”.

That really is a unique opportunity! What is one of your favorite achievements that you can credit to being a nerdy chick? I’d prefer FUNNY ACHIEVEMENTS to favorite! In my high school (the olden days) girls were required to take Home Economics. I was MUCH more interested in taking Woodshop and learning how to use a jigsaw and sander. I was told by school administration that couldn’t take the class, so I fought it and won! I was the first young woman in my high school to take woodshop and metal shop, and a few other previously “male dominated” courses – loved them all!!

Stick with me – there is more to the story! Fast forward – Senior year. I decided that I would like to – after all – take a few classes in the Home Ec department (there weren’t many options in those days!) So I took two classes – which I enjoyed immensely. Come graduation day when the awards were being presented I was hoping (praying) that the coveted music award would be mine- after all, I had had leading roles in multiple school productions, been in band, choir, madrigals – you name it! Sadly, however, it would not be mine. I resigned myself to the fact that there would be no “special awards” for me! Oh well. I sat back and began to daydream- till someone started nudging me –  “And the Home Ec award goes to Lisa Chirco” (maiden name). I was confused, startled – it couldn’t be – no way…what the heck?? I only took two classes in four years…” Sure enough – it was me! I got up and sheepishly took my award while keeping my head down from the rotten stares I was getting from all the girls who had taken Home Ec for years – sewed prom dresses, cooked gourmet meals, planned their weddings, etc… It was tough! I was certain there must have been a mistake. There wasn’t. The Home Ec teacher called me later that day to compliment me on my values and my desire to always learn more about life and motherhood. It was real!

The award was deserved. Lisa made this cake for my book launch party.

My husband and I STILL joke about the award almost 30 years later especially if someone asks me to cook. He assures them all will be well. “She won the Home Ec award in high school!”

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had the gumption to buck the system back in high school. That’s pretty cool!  What else is cool about being nerdy? You have friends from all walks of life that don’t use tight “rules of acceptance.” Therefore my world is a unique place! My friends color my life in so many interesting ways!

 Can you share a favorite song, quote, or movie that speaks to your inner nerdiness?When I was a kid my mom and Dad loved Barbara Streisand. I grew to love her voice and became particularly connected to the lyrics of one of her songs. It’s not one of her more famous songs – in fact – I have not heard it in years. I like this part of the song:

Iʼd like to plan a city, play the cello/Play at monte carlo, play Othello/Move into the white house, paint it yellow/Speak Portuguese and Dutch/And if itʼs not too much

 Itʼs not a song about wanting everything in a selfish kind of way but rather the theme of endless learning that makes life rich and whole.

Favorite quote:  “Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” –Henry Van Dyke

You are very creative! How does brain power help your creativity? Thanks for the compliment! I have been reading a book Steal Like an Artist (10 Things Nobody Told you About Being Creative by: Austin Kleon. Anyway…I appreciate this quote from the book: “Distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our minds has been changed, and that changes everything.” Jonah Lehrer

It’s true. The more I fill my life with interesting things, books, visual images or people that inspire me, the better prepared my brain is when I begin to create. The more connections I make, the more vivid life becomes – the more ideas can be generated. Sometimes my mind works a bit like an explosion though- ideas going right and left. It definitely fuels my creativity and it has obviously blessed my life in many ways.

The quote above will remind Catcher in the Rye fans about the gasoline rainbows, am I right? Either way, thanks for sharing the quote, Lisa! Well said!  And thank you for sharing your love of creativity here today.

You’ll find out a little more about Lisa soon. We are working on a YouTube Video (another learning experience) for Nerdy Chicks Rule that we hope to premiere in the next week or so!


Lisa's glass work in the gallery at ARTworks.


2 comments on “Lisa Clancy: Creative Chick

  1. What a fabulous interview Lisa! How I miss your creative inspriation on every level. You truly inspire me and always have with your amazing spirit. I have never met anyone who is fabulous at everything until I met you! I love your quote about being nerdy “You have friends from all walks of life that don’t use tight “rules of acceptance.” Therefore my world is a unique place! My friends color my life in so many interesting ways!”. I agree with you 100 percent! Miss you more than I can say!

  2. kamikinard says:

    Thanks Shanna! Lisa is an inspiration for sure. And I love that quote about friends from all parts of life too. Definitely describes my friends!

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