Art Instructor Reflects On How Maternity Leave Impacted Her Position


Olivia Villotta

Art Instructor Liz Hough returned from maternity leave in late September, ready to get to know her students and be at the high school full time.

Art Instructor Liz Hough left for maternity leave on Aug. 4 and returned Sept. 20. Hough said that taking time off from school for her baby boy, August, came with its challenges but she said she was grateful for the supportive and flexible Westside community that allowed her to extend her leave and spend more time with her baby. Hough said that she initially did not plan on taking a long leave of absence. 

“When I was about three months pregnant, I was thinking I would only take six weeks [of maternity leave],” Hough said. “My sister was the one who told me I should take twelve weeks because at six weeks I wouldn’t be ready.”

According to Hough, even though she was on a leave of absence she still had to stay committed to her duties at Westside.

“I was still emailing [students and teachers and coming up to school] multiple times rather than being able to truly take a leave,” Hough said. “[I was worried that] my students wouldn’t get all of the information that they could without me there. A guest teacher can not relay everything, especially in art [since] you’re teaching techniques and skills.”

Sophomore Khushi Singh said she agreed with Hough that Art is a difficult class to find a substitute for.

“I wish she was here because when we had substitutes it was hard [to understand what to do],” Singh said. “At the beginning of the year, the sub would give us directions and all these long talks, and I didn’t understand because she couldn’t demonstrate [the topics]. Even if she did, [she] wasn’t our art teacher so it was a little [hard to understand].”

Hough said she experienced a lot of positive moments on leave with her new son but she also missed her students at Westside.

“I had a million happy moments,” Hough said. “I missed my students [and] being [at Westside High School but], I was definitely thankful [for] the time I took with my son.”

Hough said that being on maternity leave had both positive and negative effects..

“I think I gained some more patience to have with my students, as I was really patient with my baby,” Hough said. “[I lost] a lot of time with my students [and] I lost a paycheck.”

Hough said that she is currently working on learning about her students, while also trying to catch them up.

“[Building a connection with my students] may be even easier in some ways because they’re already on a roll with projects,” Hough said. “I can jump in [when they need help] and that’s the time when I get to learn about them. I lost a month and a half, but I think I can catch up.”

Hough said that she does not regret extending her maternity leave. 

“[Being on maternity leave] goes fast,” Hough said. “Even though I was sad to miss time [at Westside], I can make up the time with my students. I’d never have been able to make up that time with my son if I hadn’t of taken it. I’m really happy that I did.”