Set to sew: Teach shares passion for mentoring students

Fashion & Design allows students to express themselves


Sofia Ayala

Helping her students, fashion and design teacher Audra Claypoole monitors her class. “The hardest thing for me about going into fashion is probably — that’s a hard question,” Claypoole said. “I guess because I am not a ‘fashionable designer’ wearing person. So, getting to learn all the trends that are fashionable within celebrities (is difficult).”

Picking out a piece of new fabric and plugging in the sewing machine, Audra Claypoole begins her journey in the fashion design department at Prosper High School. Claypoole made herself learn every detail about sewing before school began that same fall, since that was a crucial part of being a Fashion Design course instructor — her newest position, although she had never picked up the needle herself.

“When I first started, I was offered a family consumer science position,” Claypoole said. “Which is what fashion falls under, and I knew nothing about sewing clothes.”

The designs in the fashion show last spring were amazing. I can’t wait to see what the students come up with this year.

— Rachel The, sophomore

Claypoole looks back on her journey with her students in her first year, and the growth she’s experienced since then.

“I always tell my students when I first started,” Claypoole said. “I taught myself to sew two weeks before I taught them to do it.”

Before the fall semester started, Claypoole worked with one of her colleagues, who taught her more about sewing and fashion design.

“I worked with another teacher here before Rock Hill opened,” Claypoole said. “And, she would work with me to teach me how to sew, so that I knew what I was doing to teach (the students) the skills that they needed, and things that we would go over in class.”

The fashion students are so talented. The fashion show they put on at the end of the year is always fun to see all of the different styles of clothes.

— Nalla Hussain, sophomore

Claypoole teaches Fashion Design I, Fashion Design II, and Career Prep.

“Fashion design is basically where we teach them skills that they can use to develop and enhance clothes,” Claypoole said. “And just to generally talk about the different styles that we see not only on them but what we see in society as well.”

Claypoole commented that she never imagined teaching fashion, but after getting the job there is nowhere else she’d rather be.

“The position fell into my lap,” Claypoole said. “I’m grateful for it. I’ve loved it ever since.”

Students lay out designs on the table to see what to do next. The fashion students have been working on these for a few days. The designs will be used for their next projects coming up soon. (Audra Claypoole)

One of the obstacles Claypoole has learned to work her way through is the fashion trends that evolve every day.

“The hardest thing for me about going into fashion is probably — that’s a hard question,” Claypoole said. “I guess because I am not a ‘fashionable designer’ wearing person. So getting to learn all the trends that are fashionable within celebrities.”

Keeping up with the new trends, teams, and designs has been something Claypoole has had to confront.

“Learning the trends that are happening still today with these teams, and what they’re spending their money on to make it trending is probably the hardest thing to keep up with,” Claypoole said. “Because, it’s always changing.”

One of the best things for Claypoole is that she gets to watch her students grow throughout their high school careers.

“Watching them grow is one of the best things,” Claypoole said. “To watch their confidence build (is good), because when they first start they are very stressed.”

Claypoole has guided all of her students from day one because she knows it can be difficult along the way.

“And I tell them ahead of time that this is not going to be easy,” Claypoole said. “You’re going to make lots of mistakes, and I’ve always told them that mistakes are okay in fashion because everything can be fixed.”

The Fashion Design II classes work on designing clothes for their annual fashion show at the end of the year. Each student works on multiple pieces that they get to showcase in the show.

“When they start making mistakes early on in the classes, they get frustrated, they get stressed out – But then when they do get it, they achieve what they want to achieve, or what I’m looking for them to achieve,” Claypoole said. “(I love) how proud they get when we do the fashion shows when we start at the beginning of the year.”

The best thing about fashion is how creative and expressive you can be. When you create an outfit you show yourself through what you wear.

— Grace Peden, sophomore

Seeing how much the students grow from the first day in fashion and design one to completing the second course and doing the fashion show gets Claypoole excited and proud of her students.

“With my Fashion II students, they designed four outfits from scratch from designing the outfit themselves, picking out the patterns of the fabrics that they’re going to use, and then picking up the models that they’re going to do their looks and are going to walk out on the runway with,” Claypoole said. “That is probably what excites me the most is just seeing their finished pieces, and seeing how proud they are – how proud everyone else is of them when they do complete it.”

This article was last updated  Oct. 20 to improve the headline.