I kid you not. It’s as if it was staged. About five minutes into my chat with the very-busy Jessie Humble, our very own Annie Elliott walked in as a walking-breathing illustration of exactly the kind of friendly-negotiation that is partnership. Not wanting to interrupt what seemed like a formal interview, she handed Jessie a notecard with what looked like a design of suggested language. I couldn’t help but be nosey. “TELL me this is about a partnership of some kind.”
“Yup,” Annie confirmed, “Banners for the 75th.”
Jessie smiled: “It is a gift to have amazing partners.”
Annie spoke about when they first decided to partner with graphic design to create celebration banners for our school’s 75th Anniversary: “My concern when they said student work . . well I was worried about student work. Not that I’m the student work grinch, I love student work. I just want all the banners to have the same font and same size. Jessie gets that. This is why she’s such a great partner”
Jessie nodded: “Someone has to give them the guidelines; someone has to say no, not the dragon, but I love your butterfly.”
And thus, before my very eyes, I saw collaboration unfold in the messy middle: coming to agreement with non-negotiables, clear guidelines, and doing so with all the communication means (email, talk, drawings on index cards) called for. Giving students’ authentic tasks means giving them tons of scaffolding, teaching with a capital T, offering templates and guidelines, and pushing for multiple drafts. After all, as Jessie points out “in the art world you always have a creative director guiding things.”
This approach doesn’t just result in great banners for our 75th, it is, as Jessie explains, the best representation of “what graphic design IS. To partner with someone. Maybe the client didn’t describe it well in the email, but I’m going to fix it and you tell me the best way to format.”
Of course Jessie and Annie were just two of the partners in this large undertaking. Rachel Scott was next in a long list of partners. Once the design is finished, Jessie will email her to laser cut the design. Then it’s off to Stephanie Garriga to approve. A circle of love.
This undertaking is just one, though, of many that Jessie has undertaken in her first year at St. Andrew’s. What else have they been up to? Glad you asked.
In Graphic Design they:
- Made all of the posters for musicals and plays. Each individual submitted designs and then Mr. Kelly came back with comments and they revised based on that feedback. Jessie reminds us: “this is how the business community works; you’re going to work with clients that don’t initially like what you do.”
- Designed the spring choir programs.
- Created the senior trip t-shirt.
- Individually partnered with different business (e.g. a local gym, shopping places, etc.)
- Created mood meters and coping skills charts for 4th grade. (Fun fact: they are currently working on a field trip so seniors can present these tools to the 4th grade to explain how they made them.)
*Made a cut-out of Andy for Lower School
In Yearbook Class . . .
- Yearbook is one MASSIVE collaboration, as it is a “really a love letter to the school about how awesome it is” featuring a dance between freedom and “here is what we need”:
- The cover features Catherine Zhou’s artwork, and then we sent it to graphic arts to add effects.
- We are constantly working with other teachers/people!
Other collaborations include working alongside the fabulous (and ALSO new!) Jane Randall Cleek to:
- Put up art shows in the CPA aligned with the show themes! (Dr. Brown, ANOTHER new faculty member, got in on the fun when he saw what was happening and asked to include some appropriately themed student essays as well!) What if in the future we also had a pianist playing during intermission to further grow partnerships within the arts?
- By the end of the year, she hopes to have her studio art students do an art awards show with outside judges coming in
- Don’t forget Scholastic awards; the ceremony was just this past Sunday! That’s one large collaboration.
How did Jessie make all of this happen in her inaugural year at SA? She simply spread the word at the start of the year. “I made myself known in the beginning, saying ‘I would really love my students to collaborate in any way that you can find you have a need at the school. Just let me know! . . . We actually had too many possibilities! I’m thankful that people took it to heart. I love that we are able to service the community.”
If you are interested in carving out similar partnerships for your students, take heart! It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Jessie recommends you just look for ways to display your students’ work for a larger audience, anytime you can find a way for them to be proud of themselves. And while it may add a little stress for students, that stress can be incredibly motivating. Don’t take my word for it; take it from Jessie:
It’s a big thing for me too; the kids don’t see it as “this is another school project”. Instead, “this is a service we are doing for the St. Andrew’s community because we all love St. Andrew’s!” I could see it in their work because they are excited to do things when it is going to be seen at the school. “My play poster got picked!” “My design is on a T-shirt!” “It’s going to be on a banner at the convocation!” That means something to them.