Teacher Spotlight: Sheila Lynch

College is the time and place people spend most of their young adulthood trying to figure out “who they really are” and what they want to do with their lives. Some students have known since childhood exactly what they wanted to be when they grew up. For others, like Professor Sheila Lynch, finding her niche took a little longer. While attending the University of California- Irvine, Lynch majored in social ecology. Though she was intrigued by all the different components in this field, Lynch eventually dropped out because she “didn’t see any career path” with this major. Lynch took some time off to travel and “soul search”; during this break she attended some art and theater courses at Santa Barbara City College and it was there that the “art bug” bit her.

Lynch came back to southern California and took classes at Orange Coast College (OCC), now majoring in art. On top of her infatuation with subject, she also appreciated that going into this major would also satisfy her interests in writing and theater. After her time at OCC, Lynch went on to obtain her undergraduate degree from Cal State Fullerton and got her graduate degree (both in art) at Claremont Graduate University.

Professor Lynch has taught at Otis College of Art and Design before becoming a full time teacher in the Art Department here at Rio Hondo College. She teaches the following classes: Intro to Art, Survey of Art History, Understanding Visual Art, Art in the Modern Area, and the Art of Film. Lynch actually wrote the entire Art of Film course and is the only professor at Rio Hondo that teaches this class.

Not only does Professor Lynch teach, she is also an avid member in Rio Hondo’s “behind the scenes”.  Lynch is a part of several Rio Hondo committees including: the Planning and Fiscal Council (PFC), representing the visual arts in the Academic Senate, a member of the Title V committee, and is the editor for the annual journal of art and literature, River’s Voice. Lynch has also accomplished many projects to further the development of the art department. Alongside coordinator Jay Sunyogh, Lynch created a learning community that intertwined architecture with art; architecture students were able to learn more and appreciate the “art side” of architecture. Lynch, as of now, is working both within and out of her department to eventually establish an Art History and Film Degree at Rio Hondo.

Just before being hired at Rio Hondo, the Vice President had asked Lynch, “What do you want your legacy to be when you leave Rio Hondo College?” To which she responded, “I want Rio Hondo to have its own film festival.” Little did Lynch know that in 2011, she and Tom Callinan (English and Literature) would create the “River Deep Student Film Festival” and make it apart of Rio Hondo’s annual “Writes of Spring” festival hosted every April. “River Deep” gives an opportunity for any Rio Hondo student to submit their film and have it screened in front of a large audience. For more information on the festivals visit: http://www.riohondo.edu/commlang/writes/index.htm.

As a professor at Rio Hondo for the last twenty-three years, Lynch’s hope and goal is simply to spark some interest and curiosity in students. Even if the students don’t become art history majors she would like to see their minds open up to a new sense of appreciation for the arts. Lynch’s obvious dedication and true zeal toward Rio Hondo and its students is definitely something to be admired.