Tattooed Teachers

Danielle Petroske, Staff Writer

On Halloween I learned that my journalism teacher has a couple tattoos on the side of his arm. We typically see Mr. Caughlin in a button down shirt and a bowtie, but this day his costume was exposing a different part of him, that I personally, did not expect him to have. 

After I learned this, I set out to find other teachers in our school with tattoos, and interview them by asking two simple questions. One: what is the meaning behind your tattoo(s)? and Two: what advice would you give to a VHS student or young adult wanting to get a tattoo? Here are a couple responses from some of your favorite teachers here at VHS.

Mr. Cronmiller:

Meaning: Mr. Cronmiller has a couple tattoos, one he got while in college with his wrestling team. Another he got to represent his mother, an anchor, because she is his anchor. His mom raising him was a big part of his life. 

Advice: His advice is to think about where you get it and “use your body as a canvas”. He also suggests that you think twice, and would like to remind readers that they are permanent…so don’t get anything that could be seen as offensive.

Mrs. Duckworth 

Meaning: Mrs. Duckworth got her first tattoo when she was 18, with her best friend, on her best friend’s 18th birthday. She got what she describes as a “really ugly daisy” on the middle of her chest, which she hid from her parents. She later on covered it up with a larger more obnoxious tribal tattoo. She got another tattoo based off of a book with a ton of little fairies. The fairies were mischievous if you weren’t nice to them, but if you were nice, they were nice back. She explained that this is something she lives by so she got a little faerie tattooed on her hip. 

Advice: Her advice is that you never know what type of job you have, and your tattoos may prevent you from trying to get a certain job, because they are seen as something that is “not as professional”. 

Mr. Thompson

Meaning: For Mr. Thompson, the reasons behind his tattoos are because he is a huge fan of art with meaning. The first tattoo he got was my skull and 3 roses. This was a side piece he got on his right side in 2012.  The skull and the roses are to contrast the beautiful things in life (the rose) and the not so beautiful things in life (death).  

When he got this tattoo his beloved grandma that helped raise him had just passed away and her favorite flower was a rose. For him, it acts as a reminder she is always with him, and that things are always better 6 feet above the ground. 

The second tattoo he got was in 2014 of his dad’s Harley Davidson motor. He was born and raised on a Harley and around Harleys, he and his dad have built many bikes together and it is a passion he and his father share together.

His final tattoo (for now) is an anchor on his wrist that is a matching tattoo with his fiancée. This tattoo has the most meaning for him, as his fiancée and he are each other’s anchors in life.  He is a huge angler and loves to be on the water so they both found this symbol fitting.  His anchor is more worn and beat down where hers is more clean and proper.  This symbolizes the things they have gone through in their lives. This tattoo is his favorite as it acts as a reminder to him that there is always someone counting on him to hold them when times get rough (Like an anchor in a storm).

Advice: For anyone getting a tattoo for the first time…he hopes you can stand the pain. He  personally finds it relaxing to get a tattoo but he says  many do not. He encourages you to let the artist do the work, trust in your artist, research your artist…but most importantly love the work of your artist. 

Think about an idea of what you want your tattoo to look like, and go back to it day after day.  If you are still in love with it as much as you were the first day, make it permanent.  Remember that your tattoo is a reflection of you and something you could have forever be proud of and want to show it off!  But also nothing that can’t be covered up since society still isn’t 100% for tattoos. 

Ms. Potenza 

Meaning: Ms. Potenza’s first tattoo she ever got you can spot on her right calf, it is the Japanese symbol for “resilience”. She has a background as a martial arts leg fighter, where she stood mostly on her right leg. The second tattoo she got was on her left wrist. It represents love, life and loyalty but she added a little twist. She has an unclosed circle to represent loyalty, because nothing is ever a sure thing. There is a cross to represent life, which turns into a sword because life is hard. Finally there is a thorn to represent love, because it is difficult and definitely not easy. Her third tattoo is on the back of her arm and represents the 7 things she thinks are most important for her and others; to live, learn, protect, understand, transcend, transform and explore. She designed this one herself, which I think is very cool! She is currently designing two more tattoos to represent her family!

Advice: Her advice is simple, remember it is permanent and really believe in what you are putting on your body…so “do it for the right reasons”. She also wants you to know they do hurt and they are definitely not comfortable, so make sure you can tolerate the hurt. 

Mr. Caughlin

Meaning: Although, for Mr. Caughlin, this was more of a personal question, he still shared little snippets of each of his four tattoos with me. All four have been done between the years 2014 and 2020, done by different artists. His tattoos consist of a rose, a wolf, a heron and a skeleton playing a banjo. Some come from moments of transitions, others from poetry and lyrics, and all happen to be very colorful. He first told me about the rose, he got it because well…he simply just wanted a rose tattoo. His idea for his wolf tattoo was sparked by a song and he always had wanted this style of tattoo. Next the heron: when he moved to Canandaigua he would see a heron on his drive every day, and now he still sees it every day because it is on his arm. Finally, the skeleton playing a banjo. This is his most recent tattoo, which he decided to get after a flash of inspiration for the banjo.

Advice: He has lots of advice, first being there is no rush! His second piece of advice is to sit on your idea for a while, most of his ideas he had for about 1-2 years before he ever got them. Once you have your ideas, to him finding the artist is more important. He suggests finding someone whose work you like. He added, you are best off if it is a collaboration between you and the tattooist. He wants to tell you not to get them so other people will give you compliments and tell you how cool they are, get them for you. His final piece of advice is a little reminder about a risk…the risk is that they are very addictive. 

Mr. Reddout

Meaning: Mr. Reddout wanted to get a tattoo because his parents had them. He drew the sun tattoo that he has himself. He got his octopus tattoo after his divorce, because an octopus can regenerate after the loss of a leg, and he believes he did too. He also has a fish tattoo which holds a sketchbook, an inkwell, and a pencil, because these are important things in his life.

Advice: His advice is to write your idea down and draw it out, then tuck it away for a year. If you go back to it after a year and still want that tattoo, then go and get it! 


Mr. Muscarella: 

Meaning: The stories behind Mr. Muscarella’s tattoos are quite neat. His father who is an oil painter made some older “hippie stuff” and painted them onto his guitar (pictured below). He then took some of the pieces from his guitar and formed them into his tattoo; this was super personal because it incorporated collaboration between him and his father. 

Another very neat tattoo I learned is that Mr. Muscarella has the one on his left leg. Something that not many may know is that Mr. Muscarella was once a minister. In the Jewish Bible, the Hebrews went through some difficult obstacles, and built statues, when they endured one of these hardships. The tattoo on his left leg reminds him that although he had hardships himself, he got through them. 

Advice: His advice is do not get a tattoo unless it is meaningful and has a story behind it. He also recommends waiting till you are 18, so you can get through the phase of wanting to get a weird tattoo in a weird place. And yet another reminder that they are permanent.

Mr. Denner 

Meaning: Mr. Denner did not get his first tattoo until he was 32, which was a memorial tattoo for his father. He made sure to wait so that it could be his first tattoo, because he knew it was permanent. He has all of his tattoos on his right arm done by “heroes in the art world.” 

Advice: He says it is worth waiting for so don’t rush, because he is definitely glad he waited. He is glad he didn’t take up the “good spots”.  Mr. Denner wanted to be responsible and didn’t want it to reflect on him. Mr. Denner is known for his positive, good energy and did not want to give a wrong message with his tattoos.