Michele Dieterich & Treasure Mountain Junior High School Students
As valedictorian of her graduating class, Michele Dieterich was strongly discouraged from “wasting” her time pursuing art, so she quieted those detractors and compromised by earning a degree in filmmaking and animation from Boston University. Michele has also always enjoyed working with kids–as a ski instructor, art teacher and in Outward Bound programs. She wanted to use art to inspire youth, helping them to explore different modes of creativity while at the same time teaching them practical skills that would prepare them for the future. On a deeper level, she wanted to encourage them to learn more about their community and get involved.
With these goals in mind, Michele created a Digital Illustration program for eighth graders and a Commercial Art program for ninth graders at Treasure Mountain Junior High School in 2007. She started small, with only two classes initially, but the classes have become very popular and are now offered every semester. In classrooms equipped with Adobe Creative Suites funded by grants from the Park City Education Foundation, students are introduced to Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign programs. Rather than follow textbook exercises, Michele’s students work with real clients, collaborating with local businesses and nonprofits as they develop their creativity and problem solving skills. “It’s a lot of extra work for me and for the students,” Michele says, “but the opportunity to challenge themselves on real world projects is well worth it.” The students’ latest projects are a series of alphabet e-books, entitled “Alliterations,” published by children’s online book publisher Lucky Penny Press. “It is exciting for my students to see their artwork published outside of school,” says Dieterich. “When the public can see the work, it means much more than a grade. These are art projects that will not end up in the attic–students will be able to share their Lucky Penny Press Books with their own children one day.” Dieterich is also partnering with the “Latinos in Action” (LIA) students at the Park City High School to create Spanish versions of the books, video trailers and a companion website.
To purchase these and other fine children’s books, please visit, www.luckypennypress.com. $1.00 of each ebook will support the art and technology programs at Treasure mountain junior high school.