Students who have graduated after completing the Interactive Media Production Career and Technology pathway at Easton High School are going places! Easton’s program is one of 12 similar programs across the state using this curriculum, which includes a strong foundation in arts and communication, with particular emphasis on graphic and media communications, interactive technologies and project development.
According to Garnette Hines, the Interactive Media Production teacher at Easton High School and a Master Teacher for the program in the State of Maryland, “We were able to build our program based on what students need today in the industry. Our school system has unique students and a very supportive environment for this type of program. We wanted the program to give students the opportunity to try a lot of different media and have a taste of everything.”
Courses in the program include Principles of Art, Media and Communication, Interactive Media Production and Advanced Interactive Media Production and Work-Based Learning Experience-Media. Successful students may obtain certification in Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash and Dreamweaver through the Adobe Creative Suite assessment and may also obtain college credits through Chesapeake College.
In the Interactive Media Production pathway, students apply the industry-standard Adobe Creative Suite, including Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, and master the fundamental skills of Adobe Flash, Adobe AfterEffects, Adobe Premier and Adobe Dreamweaver. Skills learned include how to design graphic layouts, manipulate photographic images, create dynamic illustrations, plann and project development, traditional and computer animation techniques, short film creation and website and game development. Finally, after completing the program, students can have a Work-Based Learning Experience with local businesses where they actually apply the skills they have learned.
Garnette adds, “Each student is able to find their specific interest and skill set in this program and then apply them through real-world opportunities.”
In addition to supporting the digital and graphic needs of the Talbot County Public Schools for school events, the students in the program have the opportunity to work with other organizations. These have included working with exhibit designer Patrick Rogan on Easton’s “The Hill Community Project” and working with such local nonprofits as the Chesapeake Film Festival, Talbot Partnership and the Multicultural Festival.
Garnette reports that the first students to complete the Easton High School Interactive Media Production Career and Technology pathway are now finishing up college and have begun working professionally in the digital media field. Many of her students have received awards and scholarships based on their achievements in the program.
Sarah Kilmon, a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, Virginia, who completed the Easton High School Interactive Media Production Career and Technology pathway in 2014, comments, “My portfolio from my Easton High School experience got me a part-time job in graphic design when I arrived at VCU as a freshman.”
Sarah, who is graduating a year early this spring from VCU, was able to accelerate college through credit from AP courses she took at Easton High School, as well as from summer courses she took at VCU. She will complete a double major in Creative and Strategic Advertising from VCU’s Robertson School of Media and Culture.
Sarah will not only graduate early, but she will graduate with a job with a start-up marketing company, Hatchify, in Richmond. She began working with the company as an intern in September 2016 and has seen the company grow to 12 employees in a relatively short period of time. Her focus has been with email marketing campaigns, as well as branding Hatchify and developing its website.
She comments, “I can say that I have now been working for three years in design work. This work experience under my belt has really been an advantage.”
Sarah, who gained valuable skills at Easton High School in developing a portfolio of her work, states that by learning how to create a portfolio so early in the game, she is ahead of where her classmates are, having reworked her portfolio three to four times getting it ready for the professional world.
She adds, “Other valuable skills I learned at Easton were presentation and constructive feedback skills. Mrs. Hines brought in professionals from the area to critique our presentations and our work at EHS. I was encouraged by the feedback I got. What I learned has helped me to develop professionalism, which is a critical skill in both my college and business endeavors.”
Jonathan Powell, who transferred to Easton High School from Pocomoke and then enrolled in the program, graduating in 2012, comments, “I was soon enveloped within a classroom unlike any I had ever encountered before. Computers seemed to dominate the physical space, while doe-eyed students struggled to absorb the on-coming information. Within weeks, I was hooked.”
Jonathan recalled the strict pace of the program. By his junior year, he bought his first Wacom Intuos tablet after being prompted by his teacher, Mrs. Hines. He adds, “Honestly, just having access to the right tools began to make all the difference. With the right push, I began using the design principles we had learned to develop concepts visually, which soon expanded into the world-building and story-telling role of the conceptual artist that continues to occupy my time to this day.”
By age 17, Jonathan had been hired for his first freelance job designing spaceships for a RTS (Real-Time Strategy Game). At age 18, he headed to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He attended the school for three years. He is now working with a few friends designing spaceships for a new VR RTS game and illustrating environment concepts for an ambitious nature-inspired habitat being built overseas.
He comments, “My work is very much a continuation of my early childhood and revolves around the idea of constant exploration – to visualize a new world. Nowadays, I find myself more and more being drawn back to the lessons I had first learned at Easton High School, including how to manage my time, problem-solve visually, asking for help, conducting myself professionally, developing my brand identity and entertaining an audience. This program is what people pay loads of money for in college.”
The students stay in touch with Garnette after they leave Easton High School and often come back and share their work with her current students. Garnette comments, “They are inspirations to my current students and it is an honor to continue to be part of their creative journeys.”
Garnette credits her Advisory Board members from the community, all from related professional fields, in helping to raise the level of experience that she is able to offer the students in the program.
For further information about the Easton High School’s Interactive Media Production Career and Technology pathway, contact the Guidance Department at Easton High School at 410-822-7410.