Donna Calleja draws out a love of art from her students at Watertown High

Relfa Amador, Raider Times staff

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Donna Calleja is an art teacher in Watertown High School, where she’s been teaching for 17.5 years.

She grew up an hour away from Watertown, and studied an hour and a half away. After graduating from high school, Mrs. Calleja went to study at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth. There, she got a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. After graduating from college, she decided she wanted to live in a more city environment. She lived in the Brighton area of Boston for a number of years.

I want everybody that leaves this class to love art.”


She got her first teaching job in September 1982, working at three high schools before landing in Watertown in September 2001. Mrs. Calleja, who was married by then, was looking around for a nice house and she found a good candidate in Watertown and decided to stay.

Mrs. Calleja works on her own art on summer, but she said working on it in school time is difficult. That’s why she enjoys her profession: It lets her enjoy teaching something she loves to do.

“There’s always something new,” she said. “I want everybody that leaves this class to love art.”

Mrs. Calleja remembers her days in college as a good experience. Mentioning her inspiration to be a teacher came from an art teacher she had, with whom she’s still friends to this day. Reminding her of how she felt in this time period, not being the most naturally talented and having to work hard to learn things, she thanks the teacher for making her understand that people can get better. Everyone needs a teacher that not only teaches you skills, but a teacher that believes in you.

Mrs. Calleja is able to teach a lot of art forms. Clay, drawing, painting. She does it all. She has the art club but something she’s a mentor for the new teachers, enjoying helping them and doing things that are fun. Proving she always has a new talent to show in her energetic self, Mrs. Calleja took care of the badminton club while its supervisor was on a leave of absence.

She want her students to have art be a part of their lives, even if they don’t pursuit it as a career. She has been teaching long enough that when a student she haven’t seen in 10 years tell her that they draw, take photographs, go to museums regularly, or if they are taking an art class, she feels a great warmth in her heart.

“Not necessarily everybody has perfect skills,” she said. “It’s more important to recognize the importance and viewing the art of others, and also wanting to be creative yourself.”

–March 4, 2019–