Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Salonga



Roxanne Padget of Museum of Children’s Art (left) interviews ceramics teacher Donna Salonga (right).

Where do you teach and what grade levels take your courses?

Skyline High, Ceramics, beginning and Advanced, 9-12 grade

Where are you from and how did you end up here?

I was born and raised in San Francisco. I thought Iwould teach in S.F. but I had a connection to Skyline High and when I found out there was an opening in the Art Department, I applied for it.  I didn’t know how much I would love Oakland students and the City of Oakland but I do.


What did you want to be when you were a child?

When I was in second grade I wanted to be an Olympic Rollerblader, I don’t know

Student cup
Student work: “This student started off in my class very distracted, but now is in Advanced Ceramics and is more engaged than ever!”

where I got that idea because there is not such an event, LOL! Then I thought about being a veterinarian.  When I was in High School I decided I wanted to he a High School teacher.


Do you have a hobby or have a current art practice outside of the classroom? (Or what do you do when you have are not teaching)

I’m a rock climber and a snow boarder. It’s hard to find the time to have my own art practice right now.


What is your philosophy around art education?

I think school can be very compartmentalized, each subject to it’s own.  But I think everything can be connected. There is a lot of science and math in ceramics and I have students go through the process of using those ideas as well as lot’s of planning.  Students don’t understand all of these things are applicable to life. Academia and having a creative outlet can be used together. And I do have high expectations for my students.


What is your biggest challenge this year; do you have ideas to solve the situation?

I was told the first year of teaching was the hardest and it would get easier every year. I don’t think that is true, I’m always looking for ways to make everything more efficient in the classroom. I also find it a challenge when students are absent from school and then they start to fall behind and get frustrated. I encourage them to keep going, letting them know that they will get better and better. I really want to build student confidence.


What are you most proud of or what have been your biggest successes.

I am most proud that I have made to my second year of teaching. I am very happy when a student is happy with their work and they are proud of it, I can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. Its great when a student comes back the second year and you can see how much their skill has developed and continues to develop.  I had one girl who I thought was not that interested in the class and came back the second year and made some beautiful pieces. She ended giving me one of her beautiful cups.  I really adore the students.

Where do you want to be in 5 years or are there any other goals you want to share.

I really want to be at Skyline teaching. It’s all the small student successes and seeing the students grow is what keeps me wanting to be here. I have high expectations and I make them work hard and I really love the kids and I am passionate about teaching at Skyline.

What would you like people to know about you?

I am going to start knitting again. I like to knit socks but usually end up only completing one sock. Maybe I will eventually make a pair.

Find out more about Ms. Salonga:


Instagram: dsalonga

Interviewer Roxanne Padgett is an experience art educator, fine artist and is the Executive Director of the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland, California. More information about MOCHA can be found at:



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