Pablo Cambron-Valdez has been interested in art and sculpture since childhood. He would often make figurines out of clay his mom brought home from work or attempt origami from scraps of paper. But when he took his first Glass Blowing class the summer before high school—a gift he received for getting good grades—he knew it was something special.
I really got mesmerized by the process of glass and how it moves. There is a real satisfaction working with glass. The fact that everything has to be fluid but controlled is very intriguing to me.
Throughout his early years of high school, Pablo continued taking Crucible classes—sixteen total, the majority in glass. When he was old enough, Pablo joined our Fuego Youth Leadership Program and Pre-Apprentice Program, which helped prepare him to become a member of our faculty.
Pablo Cambron-Valdez Teaches His First Class
Pablo taught his first Crucible class this past summer. “I can relate to my students because I can step back into their shoes and remember how I was scared at certain points. If my students get spooked I say, ‘Look at me and take a deep breath. You’re here, I’m here, and we’re gonna get this done. I’m here to help you out.’
Bring The Youth Program Full Circle
“It is really something special to see these kids go through the Youth Programs and go onto young adulthood excited to stay a part of this community,” says Ismael Plasencia, our Youth Program Manager.
A West Oakland staple for more than fifteen years, we have had the privilege of watching students grow up in our Youth Programs, explore their creativity and begin to master their artistic disciplines. “The fact that we can provide opportunities for them to step into leadership and teaching roles really brings the whole program full circle.”
Watching Pablo teach, his investment in his students is clear. He wants them to feel capable and confident, and speak up when they need help.
“Sometimes students will say, ‘This isn’t working out, is there another way we can do it?’ That always helps me. I try to communicate to them that if this isn’t working, let me know and we can try to do it a different way.” Pablo Cambron-Valdez says that openly communicating with his students helps him get to the breakthroughs that make it all meaningful.
“I get really happy when the students feel successful about what they’ve done. You see their eyes light up and they feel so confident. That’s what keeps me coming back to teaching.”