Teacher's wardrobe includes broccoli

CANDID CLOSET

November 04, 1993|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

She's been a stalk of broccoli, the Statue of Liberty and a pilgrim.

That's Sandra Neuhauser's style. It's not pretty, says the second-grade instructor, but it works. During the last decade, she has used creative get-ups as teaching tools with her students at Winand Elementary School in Pikesville.

"I won't be in Vogue," says Ms. Neuhauser, 50, who lives in Randallstown. "But anybody can spend a lot of money on trendy clothes. . .The reason I do this is to impart to children an excitement about our world."

How did this all get started?

I remember being negatively impressed with the amount of money going into children's clothing when I was teaching the sixth grade in 1981. I wanted them to see that you can get more attention dressing in a unique way rather than wearing labels.

How many costumes do you have now?

Thirty-five. With the children I teach, I think of myself as a bulletin board. They look at me and try to figure out the connection between what I'm wearing and what we're learning.

What effect does it have?

Any way you can live an experience allows you to remember it more. Teachers today are competing with all sorts of special effects on TV.

What's been your most unusual ensemble?

I dressed up as Richard Dawson for a school version of "Family Feud" once. But dressing up as one of the Wild Things [from Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are"] was probably the most unusual and the hardest to do. I wore claw feet slippers, a fur collar and cardboard.

Do you ever feel silly, say, when you're dressed up as broccoli?

Never. I feel privileged that I'm comfortable with being myself. I hope it gives confidence to the students to be who they are too.

How do your own children relate to your dress?

My daughter, Angela, who's now 23, decided to go to school in the third grade wearing my pedal pushers. The guidance counselor called me to say she thought I should spend more time with my daughter working on her clothes. I also have a 27-year-old son, Mitchell, a conservative lawyer, who won't dress up as much.

What if you have to stop at the store after school and you're dressed as the Wild Thing?

I don't feel the least bit uncomfortable. It's a good conversation piece. But I probably wouldn't go dressed as the Wild Thing or broccoli, only because it's too difficult to manage shopping in a costume.

What about on the weekends?

I do not own a pair of blue jeans. I refrain from wearing anything that everybody else wears. I prize individuality. I do know how to get dressed for a wedding or a bar mitzvah. And I do let my husband, Stanley, have input when I'm getting dressed for something at his law firm. Otherwise, I might be in a sweat-suit.

Where do you shop?

Flea markets, hospital thrift stores and Kmart. I also do a lot of shopping from the Home Shopping Network and QVC.

Is there one outfit you dream of wearing one day?

Not really. I collect things that I think will be part of costumes. I was at the pet store the other day and I bought a bird mobile that I'll probably make into a necklace.

Do you know some dressers? Let us know. Write to Mary Corey, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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