Ron Muir is learning graphic design for his work, but he’s not an artist or a designer – he’s a teacher. As an instructional assistant working with autistic students at Cleveland High School, he envisions using design concepts to help his students organize vocabulary or represent math ideas.
“I really feel this could be great for them,” Muir said.
Muir is among dozens of Seattle Public Schools educators who gave up some Saturday time this spring to learn media arts such as graphic design, video and podcasting.
The Media Arts for Every Secondary Classroom series of professional development offered trainings over four Saturdays, with the final training held at Amazon headquarters in South Lake Union. The classes were for teachers of any subject.
Tiffany Dockery, an Amazon senior product manager for Kindle, emphasized in her keynote speech the importance of arts and creative thinking for students looking to enter the tech world. In fact, she said, creativity may be crucial to a job’s staying power.
“The number one indicator of whether a job will be automated is the extent to which creativity is required,” Dockery told the participating teachers.
The media arts professional development series was funded by the Laird Norton Family Foundation and inspired by the Creative Advantage, the district’s arts plan that works as a public-private partnership between Seattle Public Schools, the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, the Seattle Foundation and community arts organizations. Amazon offered space and support for the final training day.
Emily Carpenter signed up for the training to learn video techniques to bring back to her classroom at Eckstein Middle School, where her students have the option make film trailers to demonstrate their understanding of an outside novel.
“Language arts has mushroomed into ways students access language,” she said. “I’m interested in using technology with fidelity to the content.”
Visit Seattle Public Schools' Arts webpage to learn more about how the district is expanding arts access through the Creative Advantage.