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Artist, teacher and musician Foy

by Marilyn Jones

Energetic. Creative. Versatile. Talented. Devoted. Positive. Intrepid volunteer. This is Bellefonte resident Holly Foy.
An art teacher at both State College Area High School South and the Delta Program, Foy has taught drawing and advanced drawing, painting, crafts and jewelry-making at the high school, elementary and college levels.
Teaching, however, is not her only love. According to Foy, in addition to art, she also has always been involved with music, animal care, education and volunteerism.
As a child in Jacksonville, Florida, Foy loved all kinds of animals, especially horses (a hobby she is still involved with). She used to draw horses, make model horses, and was talented enough as a third grader that she was asked to sketch horses on a backdrop for a fifth- grade play.
She also was keenly interested in music. One day she saw someone playing a harp and, she said, “I fell in love.”
She requested one for Christmas that year but instead got a toy zither. Undeterred, she decided to lobby for a guitar next and was actually successful. Her mom bought her a guitar with green stamps (a popular sticker reward program at the time). It was not the instrument of her eleven-year-old dreams, So Foy began saving her money, and in two years, she amassed $130.
One day her father asked her what she was saving for. When she told him, he said, “Let’s go out. Tell your mother we’re getting ice cream,” so she would not suspect they were going to a rough part of town.
He then took her to a pawnshop, where she found the guitar of her dreams (at the time), a Yamaha FG-180, which she lovingly kept until very recently.
When Foy was 12, her family moved to the suburbs of Chicago. She remained in the area after graduation and attended the Illinois State University where she received a B.S. in Art Education. After being asked to remain at the school as an instructor, she taught for a few years while she also acquired her M.S. in the same subject. Foy obtained her can-do attitude from her mother.
“My mom was brave. She would try things and did all sorts of crafty things. I learned that if you care enough, you can make or do anything you want to.”
In addition, Foy worked at a local zoo, facilitating programs and instruction with schools, nursing homes and other groups.
During this time, she married John Hruschka, and they had their first child, daughter Marion. A professor told her she could bring her daughter to an art class she was taking, where the students took turns holding the baby as they did their work.
Foy began to teach elementary school three days a week while she continued to teach at the university the other two days.
She accepted an additional position as the program director for the McLean County Arts Center, where she coordinated all the educational classes for children and adults.
After three years of teaching part-time at the college and part-time in elementary art, she took a full-time position as an elementary art teacher.
After her daughter’s birth, Foy developed an interest in the birthing process and began training to be a childbirth educator. She received her International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA) certification as a childbirth instructor and began attending births in both hospitals and homes; helping expectant mothers as a labor support person. During this time, Foy also had her second child, Jackson.
In 1994, she and her family moved to State College for her husband to attend graduate school. She was hired as a part-time art teacher at State High. Soon she was offered a full-time position, where she has been ever since.
Over the years, Foy has continued her amazing multi-tasking lifestyle. She was the advisor for State High’s pottery club for seven years. She helped with the Empty Bowls project for several years. She has organized the school’s talent show since 1995 (except for two years she took off) and the school’s Battle of the Bands. She facilitated the Rock Fest for First Night State College for several years. She has coordinated and worked at the Arts Festival’s Italian street painting for the past ten years.
Foy also has another life – a musical one. She is a board member for the Acoustic Brew concert series that produces about 14 concerts a year locally at various sites, often in Lemont. She has booked teachers for the Huntingdon County Arts Council Folk College (a three-day folk music festival) held at Juniata College. In the fall, she also helps with their sister project near Lewistown, at the Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering.
Foy is actively involved with performing, too. She has been playing with the duo Ancient Echoes for seven years. “We do mostly Renaissance music in period costume for Renaissance events, weddings, street fairs, etc,” said Foy.
She plays the hammered dulcimer and guitar with her partner, Lisa McDivitt, who plays the Irish Floor Harp and recorder. They have played at Pennsic, a huge medieval reenactment near Pittsburgh.
She is also in the group Callanish, a group of five women who play Irish and Scottish traditional music. In this group, Foy plays the guitar, banjo, and bouzouki (a long-necked Greek instrument similar to the mandolin). They play at events statewide.
Foy continues to love her work and pastimes. When asked if she preferred teaching elementary or secondary school, Foy said, “High school kids don’t jump up and down and squeal [with delight about the activities] – they’re too cool — but they are still really exciting to work with.”
This positive attitude seems to infect everything Foy is engaged in. She is a devoted wife, mother, teacher, performer, volunteer, horseback rider, and animal lover.
Because of her dedication to the Arts, many people in the Centre region benefit from all the things she does.
To find out more about Foy and her music, visit her website at:

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