Scott “Fuzzy” Joseph, 36, head of the visual and performing arts department for Bakersfield Christian High School
Chase your dreams.
That’s what Scott “Fuzzy” Joseph wants everyone to do and something he preaches every day in his classroom.
A self-described military brat, Joseph bounced around as a kid, splitting time between Orange County and England, where he graduated high school. His search for a junior college with dorm rooms led him to Kern County, where he attended Taft College. He tried leaving, transferring to Humboldt State, but returned and finished his studio art degree at Cal State Bakersfield.
“I tried getting away from Bakersfield, Kern County,” he said. “It doesn’t work. You end up coming back.”
Not only did Joseph find love in Bakersfield, meeting a girl who would eventually become his wife of 12 years, Bakersfield filled a void he never had as a kid — a chance to stay put and plant roots. Now a father to two daughters, he can’t imagine raising them anywhere else.
“Stability is the big thing with Bakersfield,” Joseph said.
Not only is Joseph a dedicated husband and father, he is a passionate teacher as well. As the department head of fine art for Bakersfield Christian High School, he takes a rather unorthodox approach to education, using art as a means to get students excited about education and life.
“With art, I have a chance to give students a way to destress, to find out who they are, to find how they identify themselves, to interact, to communicate — we all work differently and that’s what’s so awesome,” he said. “Trying to find ways to communicate those ideas in art form or in the classroom to get the kids excited is super important to me.”
Joseph uses items like graphic novels as teaching tools, highlighting an artist’s use of symbols, text, color, panel arrangements and more to tell a more engaging story and evoke certain reactions from the reader. He also applies loose parameters to art projects, allowing students the freedom to tackle them however they choose. Art, after all, cannot be confined within defined boundaries and limitations.
“The kids take ownership because it’s their idea,” Joseph said. “Once you have ownership of something, you’re more likely to put more effort into it. (As a teacher), I’m going to be responsible for how students remember high school, how they remember their education, how they remember art. To me, that’s scary. But if I can get one kid excited about art, that’s awesome.”
Outside of the classroom, Joseph uses his talents to aid local organizations and nonprofits. He’s donated drawings to help raise funds for events and helps organizations like The Mission at Kern County, the Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House, comic and anime conventions, and more.
“Knowing that if I can draw a a picture to help in some way, why not?” Joseph said. “I can’t stand back and say, ‘That’s too bad this isn’t happening,'” if I’m not actively participating. I think that sort of mentality, hopefully, will become infectious for my own children, my students, my friends around me. We all live here. If we can do a little bit to help everybody out, why not?”
And don’t forget to chase your dreams along the way.
“Being able to chase dreams is so exciting because that way you’re never wondering, ‘What if?’ That wonder of ‘what if?’ is like poison," Joseph said. "I think going back to what made them happy as a kid and chasing that, I’m very blessed I get to do that as a career."