This art teacher helps students harness social media to build job skills

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Metropolitan Soundview High School had no art program when Cheriece White took a job there 10 years ago.

So she created her own.

The art and technology teacher initially designed a curriculum around digital storytelling and then transformed it into a multimedia art curriculum that included iMovie, storyboarding, illustration, children’s books, and front-end web design. The students gravitated to the web design part, wanting to know more about designing websites for their own business ideas. That prompted White to shift again, developing a curriculum on social media design and content creation.

“With how social media, graphic design, and technology are growing into every aspect of normal living, it is super important to have students practice these skills for their own benefit,” she said. “They are going to engage in social media and technology anyway, so why not teach them how to make money from it through design?”

White not only sees visual arts and graphic art as “great emotional outlets for kids this age to express themselves in a healthier and positive way.” She also wants her art course to provide a “tangible” way for them to become young entrepreneurs.

She wants her students to be college- and career-ready, as well as “small business ready.”

She’s hopeful that it’s working. Former students have gone on to create a cupcake company, a dog-walking business, a baseball clinic, and an Etsy digital download business. A group of current students who already have their own clothing brand recently told her how their social media following increased significantly after applying some techniques they learned in class.

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