How do you recruit students into your program?
Keeping your program relevant and authentic is key to ensure your seats are filled. You cannot solely rely on the guidance community to promote your program. You have to grab every opportunity to allow your students to shine, whether it is creating a logo for a local mediation group, making a film for the National Park Service or simply talking about your program when checking out at the grocery store.
When I started at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center, there were no materials to promote our career and technology education programs. Immediately, I created a promotional brochure as well as individual flyers for each of the CTE programs. I also created a slide presentation for my program that included, a list of careers available, identified the employer (Yes, these were actual jobs posted locally); photographs of current and former students; job market projections and expected salaries (based on the Bureau of Labor Statists); student work (logos, game boards, Web sites, photography); Adobe Certification and statistics on how many students have passed the national examination; school-to-work programs including National Groundhog Job Shadow Day; community work such as the logo for Charles County Community Mediation Center (https://www.csmd.edu/community/mediation/); SkillsUSA including the types of competitions and medals; scholarships awarded; business partners and their logos for brand recognition; and of course how to apply. I also created a YouTube channel to distribute the student-generated CTE commercial as well as their finest work. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BQ_5vYXFVk).
The events associated with SkillsUSA and the National Technical Honor Society have been the most successful means of promoting my program to the community. The SkillsUSA chapter at my school was an important contribution to student learning because it offered more opportunities for self-improvement through scholarship, citizenship, and participation in school and community activities. Students gain a positive image through competitive-skill events, leadership development, and service projects, serving their communities and interacting with future employers. SkillsUSA also provides the first networking opportunities with business professionals who judge competitions and prizes or scholarships for those who excel.
Nothing is more gratifying than hearing that a student has recommended your program to another. Many students find out about my program through friends, and I am delighted that they are recommending Interactive Media Production.
How do you encourage your students to complete the program?
The Interactive Media Production students complete the program because they recognize the value of the national Adobe certification and the job training they receive in the classroom. Rarely, one will drop the program after the first year because it conflicts with an Advanced Placement requirement at their home school.
Once students complete the program and earn the Adobe Certified Associate, they recognize how marketable they are in the world of work or college due to the skill training afforded them through the Interactive Media Production Program. Most of my students keep in touch with me and often ask for recommendations, years after graduation. I enjoy watching them grow, both professionally and personally.
What strategies are you using to recruit underrepresented populations into your program?
Females are the non-traditional population for Interactive Media Production and I make sure to include images of females in the promotional brochure, program flyer, and my PowerPoint presentation. Moreover, I ensure the images of students are diverse to reflect our county demographics. The demographics of the county are: 50% Caucasian; 40% African American; 4% Hispanic; 4% Two or more races; and 2% Asian.
What do you do to make your program stands out from the rest?
I make sure that the program is fun, flexible and authentic--deadlines are hard and fast and projects are portfolio worthy. Projects are designed to challenge the student and create a dynamic portfolio while finding their individual niche in the communications industry. No matter the personal situation or academic struggles, all students will require real-world problem-solving skills to enter the 21st-century job market. Traditional curricula will teach topics in isolation, practice them intensively for a limited time, and then abandon them until they must be retaught the following year. To avoid this inefficient re-teaching, the Interactive Media Production curriculum is designed around the way students actually learn. Once a new concept or skill—such as the design process—is introduced, the curriculum strategically revisits it over time to reinforce recent and past learning, guide students towards mastery, and promote long-term retention.
Technical expertise in computer graphics does not equate to employability. My students learn to be highly skilled young adults who solve visual problems, adhere to deadlines, speak and write clearly and work well independently and with a team.
What certifications, industry credentials, and/or college credit are your students earning?
My program was the first Interactive Media Production program in the state to become Adobe Certified. Students who are an Adobe Certified Associate in Visual Communications may earn college credit, and it will definitely help you get a job. It was recently approved for articulation of 3 credits, through the Digital Media Production program with the College of Southern Maryland.
What are your students doing after completing your program and graduating from high school?
Of the graduating class of 2017, 75% were accepted into college; 18% enlisted into the armed forces and 7% were employed, full-time. My students have attended post-secondary options such as the College of Southern Maryland, Full Sail University, Broadcasting Institute of Maryland, the Academy for Media Production, Towson University, Antonelli Institute, and Shepherd University.
What partnerships have you formed in the community and how do they help your students?
Business and college partnerships are vital to the program, not only to ensure I am teaching up-to-date skills, but also providing students insights into college application requirements. I have established partnerships with local businesses, ranging from videography, graphic design, web development, printing companies, and post-secondary education establishing a strong Program Advisory Committee (PAC) to ensure curriculum reflects current industry trends. These include, Quality Printers, Charles County Public Library, Your Journey Studios, SMECO Communications Department, Empire Signs, the NAACP, Mad’s Photographie, Charles County Government Television, Southern Maryland News Net, Charles County Public Schools Communications Department, and the College of Southern Maryland.
They review the curriculum, recommended upgrades to equipment and have taught me valuable skills in video editing, in particular. These businesses meet with me annually, volunteer their time to host field trips, donate equipment, providing job shadow opportunities, judge SkillsUSA regional competitions, and are guest speakers.
How are you maintaining your professional growth?
Recently, I earned National Board Certification in CTE, the first teacher in Charles County to do so. I am a master teacher and develop curriculum for MSDE, and share lesson strategies with other Interactive Media Production instructors at the annual week-long professional development workshop. I am fortunate to have statewide department of education-sponsored workshops available specific to Interactive Media Production. I contribute regularly to the Interactive Media Production Black Board site, uploading lesson plans and resources for teachers in the state to use in their classrooms.