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Saying Goodbye to a Picture Perfect Teacher

Fleischer+taught+at+Arlington+Public+Schools+for+35+years
Fleischer taught at Arlington Public Schools for 35 years

Fleischer taught at Arlington Public Schools for 35 years

Lindsey Bowers

Lindsey Bowers

Fleischer taught at Arlington Public Schools for 35 years

Claire Kuwana and Louisa Currie, Sentry Staff Reporters

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If you have ever been to a Jewish wedding and witnessed the breaking of a glass, it will be easy to understand photography and computer graphics teacher Bruce Fleischer’s outlook on the school community. Fleischer, who has taught at Arlington Public Schools (APS) for 35 years now, considers the school to be symbolized by a glass at a wedding, composed of students, faculty and staff alike. Being a part of the ever-changing glass is what Fleischer will miss the most about teaching.

“Like glass broken at the wedding, with broken pieces never to be put back together… after this year we will never all be in the same school together again,” Fleischer said.

From a young age, Fleischer has been interested in the arts. He began sketching, but soon found that he was better suited for the camera.

“I picked up a camera, and it became a natural transition. Instead of drawing, I could use a mechanical device because I had ideas, and the camera allowed to me to express them,” Fleischer said.

Despite having discovered a passion for teaching in college, Fleischer held many other jobs before becoming the teacher we all know and love. He photographed weddings for over ten years, and in 1996 he was even featured in a book by Amphoto Books, which identified him as one of the top thirty wedding portrait photographers in the world. He also photographed installations at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, and then was given the position of staff photographer at the Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia. Luckily, it was at this point that APS contacted him and offered him a job teaching photography.

After jumping from one school to the next in Arlington, Fleischer finally settled down here six years ago. Since then, he has adopted a teaching style that allows students the freedom to be creative while ensuring that they gain the skills needed to execute their ideas.

“I try to facilitate the technical expertise, how to go in the studio, what to set the camera on… creative lighting, and allow the student to come up with his own vision, and use the camera to document it, to demonstrate what they are seeing in his mind’s eye,” Fleischer said.

Fleischer’s methods of teaching are clearly working, as this past year, two of his students, Aubrey Bouchoux and Alejandro Perera, placed nationally in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Because Fleischer teaches only the first two levels of photography and the first level of computer graphics, it is often less likely for one of his students to place so highly in such a competitive competition. However, these two students have proved that with the help of their teacher, they can easily compete with artists who likely have much more experience and knowledge.

“He tries to let the students think of their own ways to expand what they want, and just give them a little bit of direction… he is not telling you ‘this is what I want you to take a picture of, and this is what I want you to do…’ the way he teaches and just his personality makes it a really fun class overall,” Bouchoux said.

In his retirement, Fleischer plans to try real estate and architectural photography. He and his family are moving to Greenville, South Carolina, where he will be able to continue to pursue his passion for photography.

“I really value ‘be here now, now be here’…. Photography documents the moment, and we are moving so fast through life we forget to enjoy what is in front of us, and I think the photograph does that… it documents, it reminds us to be thankful of what we have at the moment,” Fleischer said.

He also looks forward to taking full advantage of his freedom to fully enjoy one of his most recent purchases.

“I just purchased on ebay, an amplifier that is similar to the one I had when I was a hippie… I mean when I was younger… and I am really looking forward to sitting down and buying a turntable, and getting some albums from GoodWill, and just kind of sitting back and reflecting,” Fleischer said.

Fleischer also plans to purchase a syntax clock, just like the one that can be found in every school classroom, to hang in his new home office.
“It is so institutionalized, it is everything I have tried to not do in my class, so it is kind of a joke that I am playing on myself, to look at that clock and just enjoy every moment,” Fleischer said.

YHS Community Thoughts

“I want to tell Mr. Fleischer that he has made me appreciate all types of art. He has made me appreciate my work as well. He helped me see potential in work I thought was insufficient. I hope when he retires he continues to help others with their art and that he visits yorktown from time to time.” -Ana Coutlakis, sophomore

“Mr. Fleisher’s class was definitely my favorite class freshman year. He made it a relaxed but still fun class! I’m going to miss him saying “take more pictures!” when I pass him in the hallway. He always made everyone laugh and i really enjoyed photography with him as my teacher.” -Alison Levine, sophomore

“Fleischer taught me to relax and enjoy every moment. From the weather desk: ‘I don’t care if the forecast models aren’t showing snow! The head office in New York wants ratings, so you lead with snow at 6 o’clock!’ Best wishes in retirement, when everyday’s a snow day.” -Mr. Bunting, AP English 11 teacher

“He encouraged creativity and was supportive of all of my photo ideas. Thanks for providing a good experience, teaching me cool photo techniques and inspiring me to do more photography. I’m going to miss him so much!!!” -Ellie Tyler, sophomore

“He was always supportive and willing to help. He made them more visually aware of the world around them through the teaching of photography. I would like to tell him not to forget us poor saps that he leaves behind!” -Allen Beland, Photography teacher

“He introduced me to the basics of my camera and really helped spark an interest in photography for me! his class was a lot of fun! I want to say thanks for  everything you taught me and i hope you enjoy retirement!” -Annmarie Early, sophomore

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Saying Goodbye to a Picture Perfect Teacher