Online Edition of The Cardinal Times

Retiring: Nancy Abens (Art)

June 13, 2021


Courtesy of Nancy Abens

Photography teacher Nancy Abens is retiring from Lincoln after 17 years.

What was your official position at Lincoln? How long did you work at Lincoln?

I have been the photography teacher at Lincoln since 2004. I have taught analog, alternative process, bookmaking and digital photography through the years. 

Tell me a little bit about what you did on a normal school day.

On a normal day-pre COVID-I would come to school, set up the darkroom, gather supplies for whatever project we would be working on, and get ready for a super active, somewhat chaotic day. My classes, particularly the advanced photography classes, were so active! Students using the computer, students out taking photos, developing film and working in the darkroom. I definitely got my exercise each day running up and down the stairs from classroom to darkroom. We always had music playing and sometimes even spontaneous dancing. I absolutely loved it. It was seldom quiet or calm. There was much joy. 

What was your favorite part about Lincoln?

I always enjoyed having my classroom in senior hall. At one time, all my students were juniors or seniors. I always had students hanging out during lunch. There were so many fun, informative, and quite deep conversations. 

What is your favorite memory from all of the years you worked at Lincoln?

I have so many wonderful memories, I couldn’t just name one. There were times when something would be said or done where we would laugh so hard-deep, long lasting joyful laughs. The times where I would sit and work on the same art project with kids-so we were all just working and talking-was just the best. We would talk about everything and I learned so much about teenage life and what students had to deal with. At the end of each year, I would have a brunch or lunch at my house for my 5-6 students. They were usually all seniors and most of them had been my students for 3 years, so I knew them pretty well. It was always a very special time. After we ate, we would gather together and I would tell each student what I loved about them and their work. It was just such a love fest! That is the stuff that filled my heart throughout these years. The relationships I formed with students were, and still are, so meaningful to me. I am so proud of how many of my students are working artists and how many go into teaching. I am in contact with many of them still and love talking with them and seeing what they are doing with their lives as college students, post grads, parents, and those into their careers.  

What will you miss most about Lincoln after you leave?

I will miss seeing many of my colleagues on a regular basis, and so admire them for the good work they all do. I do plan on coming back to sub, at least for a little while. 

What are your plans for retirement?

I am teaching a workshop this summer at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology and would like to do more of that. I plan on really focusing on my own artwork, my garden, spending more time with family and friends, taking trips, and becoming a fabulous baker! 

Is there anything else you would like to add or address or are there any messages you’d like to share with the students or to Lincoln? 

I have loved teaching photography here and the wonderful young people and fellow teachers I have come to know. Change is good, hard, but good and I am excited to start a new chapter in my life.

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