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Creativity Cultivates New Skills for Students, His Peers, Himself

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“My teaching philosophy is a lot different from your typical pencil-and-paper assessment,” says Adam Frank (above, center), television/ multimedia production instructor at Frederick County (Md.) Career and Technology Center. “We learn by our mistakes, learn collaboratively, try new things, maybe fail, but we grow and support each other.”

Since 2005, his program has earned regional Emmys, five national silver medals and a host of state gold. Most importantly for Frank, it’s also spawned a multitude of student success stories. “I had a kid working on ‘The Walking Dead’, one at Adult Swim, one at ESPN … I could go on all day,” he says.

As a member of SkillsUSA’s national education team (NET) for the Digital Cinema competition, Frank’s been helping fellow instructors, too.

“I’m learning with the kids,” says instructor Adam Frank. “We keep moving forward, changing every day. When you see a kid actually grow with you, it’s an addictive feeling. I’ve learned just as much as I’ve taught.”

During the two-day competition, students work mostly on their own, leaving advisors forced to kill time while waiting. Last year, Frank helped resurrect that wasted time.

“Our national chair, Keith Emmerich, made some connections with a group called ‘Sneak On the Lot,’ ” Frank explains. “It’s run by two Hollywood insiders who create curriculum for students trying to get into the industry.”

The group helped judge the competitions but also conducted training sessions for advisors during the down time. “They basically ran a mini educational session on all aspects of production,” Frank says. “We got awesome feedback and plan to do it again.”

Frank has also been experimenting with joint video collaborations between classrooms using Skype and other technology. “Kids are all about each other’s work,” he says. “They want to see who’s got the good stuff.” As a teacher, it’s clear Frank has plenty of his own “good stuff” to share.

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