Eskell etches life lessons through art


Liam Abourezk

Paint me a picture: With a smile, Camille Eskell admires her students’ artwork. She has taught art classes for 14 years. Eskell has various quirky props in her classroom, like a fake skull.

Room 1009’s six-foot-high easels and bins of graphite pencils shield a master of fine arts. She walks around the classroom, charcoal in hand, ready to help her students discover their true talent.

This master is Camille Eskell.

A graduate of Queens College, Staples’ petite drawing teacher has established quite the following over her 14 years of teaching. Since Eskell is the only teacher of Advanced Drawing, Honors Studio Art and AP Studio Art, she has many of her students for three, or even four years. Because of this, she has the time to develop a relationship beyond what a student might have with an Algebra II teacher they had once in tenth grade.

“I really get to know the students, their strengths, their weaknesses,” Eskell explained. “And who they really are as people.”

However, it’s clear that it’s not just the fact that Eskell has her students multiple times that makes her so beloved. Her creative and friendly teaching style plays a huge role in her relationship with her students.

“I think one of my strengths is individualising to a student’s needs, which is important in teaching,” she said. “I try to gauge where they are and where they need to be.”

Besides going above and beyond to connect with her students on an artistic level, Eskell makes an effort on a personal level. Harry Epstein ’15 has had Eskell three times already, and couldn’t stress his appreciation for her more.

“Ms. Eskell is my favorite teacher to the point where I don’t have to even think about it,” he said.

While Maddie Jones ’17 is only beginning her second semester with Eskell at the front easel, she agrees with Epstein’s sentiment.

“I feel like I’ve grown so much as a student in her class,” she said. “My drawing has improved tremendously since Drawing I and I know Ms. Eskell is responsible for that.”

The self-proclaimed “goof-ball” has always felt that adding a little humor to her classes never hurts. Amy Perelberg ’15 can vouch for this, as she said, “She’s totally hilarious and quirky, which makes all her classes entertaining and fun.”

But Eskell’s humor is also a little more out of the box.

“She does this funny thing where she makes everything an analogy,” Perelberg explained. “One time, the class was drawing popcorn, and Ms. Eskell kept comparing the pieces of popcorn to different animals. One piece looked like a turtle, another a pig and a third piece like a crab,” she finished, laughing. “It was so random but it helped us draw the popcorn.”

Eskell’s talent goes beyond drawing; she has unbelievable talent for teaching, too. Whether she is playing class-clown for Advanced Drawing or instilling a passion that inspires a quest for further knowledge in Drawing I, Eskell is always dedicated to her students.

“There is so much love and respect for Ms. Eskell,” Jones said. “She is passionate, funny, kind and genuinely cares about how we are doing.”

Her current students express their love for her now, and will continue to respect her into their college years. Epstein is sure he’ll always remember Eskell. “When I visit Staples next year, I’ll visit the drawing room first,” he said.