May 15, 2017
Every month in our UCCI newsletter, we feature one of the extraordinary educators we have worked with at the UCCI Institutes and in the UCCI Teacher Exchange. We started this feature so that we could have a way of publicly showcasing how creative, innovative, and smart California teachers are. We archive every issue of the Teacher Spotlight here, on the UCCI website, at our Teacher Spotlight page.
This month the spotlight is on Kelly Moncure, Professional Photographer and Photography Teacher at Rancho Bueno Vista High School.
In your own words: What do you do, and why?
I am a high school Career Technology Education (CTE) digital photography teacher and teach mainly eleventh and twelfth grade students. My classroom is a Macintosh lab, where I go over shooting, the technical features of photography, composition, careers in photography, and how to use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. I teach because of my own deep love of art, and I wanted to share my gift with others. My high school art teacher was a second father to both my brother and me, and inspired many people to become professional artists. He took me from someone who was just okay in art to winning a national portfolio award with the Scholastic Art Awards after two years of being taught by him. He helped me grow so much as an artist and a human being, and inspired me to become a teacher- and I aspire to be half the teacher he was.
What was your background prior to your current role, and how does your prior career inform what you do as a teacher?
Before becoming a teacher, I worked in advertising in New York City doing a variety of things- sales, marketing, public relations, and magazine production. I feel that with my business experience, I can give students the skinny on what’s important to clients and to their future bosses. I also tell them the story about always be good to your customer and coworkers, because when I was looking for a job, my old advertising client from twelve years prior was hiring and remembered that I took care of him, and hired me. You just never know. I especially enjoy doing a unit on advertising in my photography class, as I feel like my past career enhances what my students are learning. Being a teacher as a second career has also been a true blessing, as I never take for granted how lucky I am to be doing this.
Prior to your UCCI Institute participation, had you done any integration of CTE and academics?
As a photography teacher, I am continually using history in my class and discussing important images that withstood the test of time. It’s thoroughly enjoyable to see how students remember vividly what they learned about a photograph- it brings that time alive to them. For instance, Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange - students really “get” the concept of the Great Depression when they see the photograph of the starving mother with the sad look on her face, and her three children clinging to her. Or Eddie Adam’s photograph of the General killing the Viet Cong - we talk about the controversy surrounding that image, and how it changed how people perceived war.
You’re also a photographer, and you are on the Vista Arts Commission! Please talk about your interest in photography and art, what inspired it and how your civic work impacts your teaching.
I have been an artist since I can remember, and my big brother is a muralist in upstate New York. I like to say that I am an “art evangelist” since I’m a big believer that anyone can do art, it’s just a matter of finding your medium. When I taught studio art, some kids would say they couldn’t draw, but they were terrific at ceramics, or computer art. Maybe it’s music, maybe it’s building furniture, maybe it’s knitting. I love seeing people making art - it brings communities together, it helps kids’ self esteem, it’s a great way to pass the time, and it makes people see possibilities. I personally make art on a daily basis, whether it’s photography, painting, drawing, or doodling, I’m continually creating. I also look at art, read about art, write about art, lecture about art, teach art - you get the idea. It’s my great love and who I am.
I became involved with the Vista Arts Commission last year since I thought my advertising and PR background could be of service to my community. I’m one of the people that oversee the Civic Art Gallery, and just wrapped up our school district’s senior art show. I’ve enjoyed having my finger on the pulse of what is going on in my city, and letting my students and other teachers in Vista know about the activities and opportunities here. I also enjoy getting feedback and information from my students on what they would like to see in Vista and what they think of the artwork that is being juried. They open my eyes to views that I hadn’t considered, and for that I am very grateful.
What are your top three resources (online or otherwise) for learning or teaching Photography, and why?
My top resources for teaching photography are:
-Lynda.com for new ideas or great practical lessons
-I have a Facebook group for high school photography educators that I started about three years ago, with over 600 members from all over the world on it. We share ideas, resources, student work, and collaborate. It’s been such a great form of PD. Don’t discount Facebook or LinkedIn groups, they can be amazing!
-Creative Live - they do streaming classes that you can watch for free live or buy the class afterwards
-Adobe TV - numerous free online video tutorials