LATROBE, PA – Though schools across the region are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2001 Saint Vincent College graduate Gabi Nastuck was determined to find a way to continue to share her passion for teaching art.
Nastuck, who teaches at Greensburg’s Clelian Heights School for Exceptional Children and offers private lessons through her Latrobe Studio, Miss Gabi’s Art is Good Studio, turned to social media to ensure her teaching could continue.
Beginning with a March 16 demonstration of her drawing entitled “Bee the Light,” Nastuck has offered free, live streamed drawing lessons through The Miss Gabi's Art is Good Studio Facebook page.
While she prefers in-person instruction, Nastuck had previously toyed with the idea of offering online lessons. The restrictions with COVID-19 forced her to put the online plan into place and the response has been overwhelming, with her first Facebook session garnering 3,500 views and her second more than 2,000.
“I had considered giving online lessons before,” she said, “but never really pursued it because I love having my students right in front of me. But when this happened, I knew it was something that I had to try. I did not think it would take off as well as it has.”
The 2012 Saint Vincent College Recent Alumnus of Distinction honoree, Nastuck’s first teaching experience came in 2002, when she gave Saturday morning drawing classes to children at Latrobe Art Center and oversaw the center’s summer art camp program for children aged 3-13. Since then, she has since taught students aged 3-97 and after working for 13 years in various capacities at Latrobe Art Center, she opened the Miss Gabi’s Art is Good Studio in 2017.
In addition to her 2012 honor from Saint Vincent College, she won the 2014 Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau Trailblazer of the Year Award while her artwork has been recognized at the 2010 and 2012 Southwestern Pennsylvania Council of the Arts Juried Ars Exhibitions, the 2011 Mr. Fred Rogers Regional Juried Exhibition and the 2010 Westmoreland Biennial.
Nastuck emphasized that her drawing lessons are for students of all ages and levels and said that parents have enjoyed them just as much as their children.
“These lessons have brought whole families together and have made the parents realize that they can also draw,” she said. “My students’ parents would always say, ‘Oh, Miss Gabi, I can’t draw!,’ and I would tell them that yes, they could. I’ve since gotten responses from those parents saying, ‘Look, I did it and really enjoyed it!’. That makes me so happy.”
Though she was initially hesitant to offer the Facebook lessons, Nastuck says they are now here to stay.
“This is now a permanent part of my plan,” she said. “I didn’t think I would enjoy it so much, but I really do. To know that I can bring joy or normalcy during this crazy time makes it all worthwhile.”
Nastuck’s lessons can be viewed live on Facebook at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while they will remain archived on the Facebook page for viewing at any time.