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ARTIST PROFILE: Twins teach art at North Country School

May 3, 2019
By STEVE LESTER - Correspondent ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID-Identical twin sisters Noni Eldridge and Katie Weaver have a distinctive approach to the concept of working at home.

"We were born and raised on this property," Eldridge said. "I'm third generation, and I put both my kids through this school."

The property of which she speaks is North Country School, one of the area's private academies, located east of the village on state Route 73 across from Mount Van Hoevenberg. Their grandparents, Walter and Leo Clark, founded the school in 1938.

Article Photos

Noni Eldridge and Katie Weaver
(Provided photo —?Steve Lester)

Weaver and Eldridge both studied art in college. Their transcripts are long on art classes and short on education classes. Such are the benefits of teaching at a private school.

"Teaching art here is like fabulous!" Eldridge said. "We don't have to teach to any standard, state or otherwise, so we can just wing it."

"And we often do," Weaver added.

"I always wanted to be an artist," Eldridge said, "but now I'm an art teacher, and I couldn't be happier."

Among the benefits of teaching at a private school such as this one include classes with five or six students compared to the 20 or 30 who often come with every class in public schools, she said. Eldridge also enjoys the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the music and arts programs won't fall victim to any budget cuts.

"They will not cut the arts here," Eldridge said. "In fact we're expanding. We're building a five-million-dollar performing arts center. Our arts budget is probably twice that of your average public school. It helps that our endowment is huge."

It also helps that the alumni reflect back on the school with such fondness that they typically donate generously to it the rest of their lives, according to Weaver.

"Those alumni gatherings here are just fantastic," Weaver said.

One such gathering occurred last week when alumni from as far away as Europe and Alaska came on short notice to attend the funeral of faculty member Tom Clark, who had died April 7 at age 75. He had been teaching woodworking and photography at NCS since 2002, and science before that in the 1970s.

"If the students take advantage of all that's offered here, they go on to successful professional careers," Eldridge said.

Marc Leuthold, who teaches at SUNY Potsdam, is one such alumnus. He is one of 40 Americans elected as a lifetime member of the International Academy of Ceramics. Critic John Perreault wrote of Leuthold's work, "One looks and looks for artists who break up history, who bend the descent, who force one to connect the dots in new ways, even turn away from some. Leuthold is one of these."

In addition to painting and drawing, North Country School students learn weaving, knitting, hot glass molding, photography, jewelry making, sculpture, and building three dimensional objects such as log cabins with popsicle sticks and hot glue, a particular favorite.

"The kids love hot glue and popsicle sticks. It's hard to get them to move on after I get that medium out," Weaver said.

Weaver also teaches horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and mountaineering.

"We wear a lot of hats around here," Weaver said in a classroom where there were no less than 26 looms of various varieties.

They don't have to start wearing those hats until around 10 a.m., which is another perk of the job they both like.

The underclassmen, those in grades 4 through 6, have their schedules planned out for them with enough required art classes to keep them coming in for some form of art training every day, Weaver said. The upperclassmen in grades 7 to 9 have more control over their academic schedules so that many of them come in for art classes as often as twice a day every day.

While Eldridge has taught at NCS for most of her life, Weaver spent 20 years teaching at Lake Placid's Northwood School before joining the NCS faculty four years ago. She is also an alumna of the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyoming.

"We're interesting twins," Eldridge said. "We twin people every day."



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