'Normal is boring,' this teacher says Themes: Ann D'Antoni doesn't wear her heart on her sleeve -- that space is reserved for her lesson plan. In her preschool classroom, her clothing is a teaching tool.

Candid Closet

October 22, 1998|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

And you thought Miss Frizzle, of "Magic School Bus" fame was make-believe. Not at Valley Baptist Church preschool in Lutherville, where Ann D'Antoni (Miss Ann to her students), dresses for every school unit just like "the Frizz."

If it's "yellow week," she's all in sunshine and golds. If the topic is bugs, D'Antoni, 47, is clad in caterpillars and butterflies from earrings to socks. One major difference between the fantasy teacher and the real thing: D'Antoni, of Lutherville, has straight, not curly hair.

How did this theme approach to dressing begin?

My husband and I were shopping one day, about 15 years ago, and I found a really cute pair of socks, with a little creature that was upside down, and the legend, "Normal is boring." That should sum me up pretty well.

Dressing for your students gives you a good excuse to shop!

We'll be out shopping and I'll find something I can wear in school, and that will justify my buying it.

What are some of the themes you dress for?

When we talk about fruits and vegetables, I have a shirt with a big huge carrot and socks with little eggplants and zucchini. And the other thing is, this is a Christian school, so celebrations are fall-oriented.

It's harvest time, with pumpkins, but no ghosts. At Christmas my clothes emphasize the colors green and red, a tree or a snowman, but no Santas.

Where do you find your clothing?

Off the beaten path, Caldor, Wal-Mart, craft shows, places like that.

What do parents think of your style?

They think it's cool.

What's the point of dressing to match lessons?

It gives you another avenue for talking about your lesson. If you wear it, it's right in front of the kids. It's a visual. I am the visual aid. My husband's deaf and I use a lot of sign language in the classroom and when I put it all together, it helps a lesson stick more. The children use all of their senses.

That must make your classroom a popular place!

It seems that the children are more creative when they are in our team's room.

Do you have thematic clothes for other aspects of your life?

I have coffee-themed T-shirts and coffee socks. And I probably reflect my moods a lot by the shirts I wear.

The gloomier I am, the brighter my clothes are. I'm an optimist. The cup is half full.

Black is not a basic for you.

Only if I'm wearing black jeans.

How do you plan your wardrobe?

I have to think a week ahead and hang the right clothes in my closet.

How will your outfits change as the school year progresses?

We start off the year with T-shirts that say things like "Teachers love hugs," and in the fall, it's on to fruits and vegetables, then it's Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And then I have snowflake and snowmen stuff for January. February is valentines and red again.

March is shamrocks, and spring is flowery shirts and little birds and farm animals. Then I end the year with beach stuff.

Do you know any snappy dressers? Let us know. Write to Stephanie Shapiro, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

Pub Date: 10/22/98

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