Today we are highlighting some of our most recent members to have earned our Web Animator certification. Nine students from Pennsbury High School West in Fairless Hills, PA, recently earned the certifications, the first in Pennsylvania to do so. We caught up with a few students, including one in particular who excelled in the course, as well as Cathy C., who teaches the course. Cathy has already seen the impact it has on students in engaging them and helping them to meet the state’s future-ready initiatives. She knows she has opened up some student minds to think about possible creative career pathways.
Uncovering Hidden Talent
Teachers know they make a difference every day. Sometimes the changes they help students achieve are small, and sometimes they are big. One of Cathy’s students, “J,” was pushed to take the class but was not really interested in being there. However, Cathy saw what every educator hopes for–a student discovering his or her passion and realizing the world does need his or her creativity. J. was the quiet student who found out that the way he sees the world, his unique creative sense, is something that should be shared, and that his medium is animation.
Cathy talked about her experience teaching J.: “He just kept saying, ‘I’m not creative. I can’t do this. My mother is making me take it.’ Now he’s one of my top students, and he found out that he really is creative. He comes at problems with such an unusual viewpoint, and the other students can’t wait to see his work because it’s always something completely out of left field. He’s discovering that this thing that he always thought was his biggest limitation is actually an asset, and he loves it. He now has other students going to him for help in working on their animations.”
We caught up with J. to hear in his own words how he had enjoyed working through the Animation course and earning his certification: “At first I didn’t want to take this class. I liked the class AP Comp Sci A because you just had to follow the rules, and the program would work. This class, Advanced Web Programming and App Design (the animation class) didn’t sound like that because I’m not creative, but my mom wouldn’t let me drop the course. When Mrs. Costello put my nest-egg animation on the screen, everybody laughed. At first I thought they were laughing at me to make fun of me, but Mrs. Costello said, ‘No, J., they’re laughing because they think your animation is funny.’ But one of the other students said, ‘Yeah, we LIKE it!’ After that, everybody always wanted to see my animation on the projector first. Everybody laughed because they thought my animations were creative and funny. My classmates even asked me how I did things so I could teach them.
“Mrs. Costello says she doesn’t own the knowledge, and that means we can all have different right answers so mine can be right too! I was really proud of how my music video project came out, and my classmates kept wanting to see it again frame by frame because of how I made the tears fall on the animated kid’s face and the way I matched the animation to the music. That was really hard, but it meant a lot to me to get it right, and I was happy that everybody saw how much work I put into it. In conclusion, I really liked taking this class because I found out I’m creative and funny, and I’m sad this class is ending on Tuesday.”
What J. thought was going to be a class he hated turned into the class where he was a cool kid. He discovered that what makes him different is also a creative gift. Who knows? He may be the next Tim Burton (Director of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Frankenweenie) or Dan Harmon (Creator of Rick and Morty).
Reaction From Other Students
Like J., other students in the class thrived as well. Here are a few of the things they had to say about working the course and becoming certified Web Animators:
When asked about the experience of working through the course and earning the certification, one student said, “I liked the course and certification because they were flexible. I could work through tutorials and assignments in a less structured way.” Another said, “The industry certification is very important to me. I’m planning to pursue computer science as a college major, and the Web Professionals Global certification is a valuable way to distinguish myself from every other high school computer science student.” And another student remarked, “I wasn’t thinking of animation as a career option, not because I wasn’t interested in it, but because it didn’t even occur to me as an option. This has opened my eyes to a new possibility that I definitely want to explore further.”
We asked the students what it was like to show the projects they had built on the path to certification. One student said, “My family was impressed, but it was actually more satisfying to watch it with the rest of the class. My parents thought it was cool, but they didn’t understand the work that went into it like my classmates did.” Another remarked, “It was fun to show off my cultural music video, because I put in a lot of inside jokes and things only people from Pakistan would get. But then it was also fun to show it in class, because I could EXPLAIN all the things that only people from Pakistan would get! I liked being able to use a school assignment to show off the things I’m proud of about my culture.” And another student proudly said, “My father was bragging at Christmas that I’m going to graduate high school already having an industry certification in my field, even before I get to college.”
Finally, we asked the students what they would tell other students interested in earning the Web Animator certification. One student stated, “The projects gave us an opportunity to learn in a relevant, fun context. We learned the most by applying our skills and knowledge to a real problem.” Another said, “This is a class and certification that celebrates individuality. Your animation won’t look like the one done by the person next to you, and that’s the most fun part of the course.” Finally, one student talked about the sense of accomplishment: “There’s no satisfaction in answering easy questions, so I like how complex animation is. When you finish a project, you’ve done something you can be proud of.”
Cathy talked about how word is getting around the school about her class: “The Animation class and certifications have created some buzz around school. We’re about to start course selection for next year, and I’ve already had two kids I’ve never taught before come ask me about it.”
Mark DuBois, Executive Director of Web Professionals Global, said, “Reading about J. and the other students in Cathy’s class makes it all worth it here at Web Professionals Global. We are so proud to support these imaginative and innovative students as they immerse themselves in the world of animation. The certifications and knowledge they have earned will stay with them forever, no matter what their futures hold. We welcome these new members into our professional association and look forward to being part of their bright futures.”
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