Two professors from Ryerson’s School of Fashion have a reason to celebrate this week.
Dr. Lu Ann Lafrenz, the program director of fashion design, and Colleen Schindler-Lynch, a full-time seasonal instructor, are among 15 professors recognized as notable art teachers in Toronto by The Art Career Project, an online organization connecting people with educational institutions and careers in the arts.
According to the California-based organization, the professors were selected based on their education, classes they teach, news pieces celebrating their accomplishments, and comments on the website RateMyProfessors.com – a website where students can anonymously review their instructors. Recipients were not notified of their consideration prior to the release of the list.
“I came home after a day of school and there was an email from the [School of Fashion] chair congratulating us,” says Schindler-Lynch. “I had no idea. I was absolutely bowled over. It’s a lovely thing to be noted.”
Schindler-Lynch has spent 25 years in the fashion industry and currently owns her own jewelry company Coco’s Closet. She has been with Ryerson for more than a decade.
Many former students are not surprised by her inclusion on the list, saying they feel privileged to have been mentored by her.
“She’s the type of professor that will be patient and point out your weaknesses and, more importantly, show you how to fix them,” says fashion coordination and styling student Shahreen Shahid. “She’s extremely straight-forward and stern, yet sincere, which goes hand-in-hand for success in the industry.”
“I just try to be very relatable,” says Schindler-Lynch. “My goal is to help their visions materialize and I look at myself as a facilitator to help them make that vision come true.”
The online organization credited Lafrenz, a professor at Ryerson since 1998, with playing a role in the growth of the program. Her open-door policy approach and willingness to help every student succeed in the fashion industry are what students say make her a notable professor.
“[My goal] is to establish a relationship with the students so that they feel they can come in and talk to me about their issues related to school or things that they’re proud of,” says Lafrenz. “It’s not just teaching the class, it’s helping them move forward in their careers and what they want to do afterward.”
This is the first time The Art Career Project has recognized professors in Canada. Past lists include New York City, Dallas, San Francisco and Paris. The organization says it wanted to feature cities that often get overlooked.
“We started noticing a lot of buzz about the art scene in Toronto,” says Jonathan Hoenig, project editor for the organization. “We thought it would be a good idea to highlight cities that may not receive a lot of attention, especially compared to mainstays like Paris and New York.”