By Jerry Del Priore
Good things are happening at the High School for Innovation in Advertising and Media (IAM), one of the first public high schools in the country dedicated to teaching students about advertising, design and media through a well-designed curriculum and from private industry professionals.
Since its inception in 2008, in addition to regular high school classes, students have been taking courses in advertising, media and technology, which includes web and graphic design. Furthermore, pupils have several resources at their disposal such as developing a portfolio, joining an advanced production club, and various internships.
Ms. Adaleza Michelena, IAM’s Principal, said the school has aligned itself with the American Association of Advertising Agencies (the four As), a large advertising agency trade association, which has “leveraged their relationships and their member organizations in order to provide support for our school run activities.”
IAM currently has strong working relationships with Momentum Worldwide, Deutsch Advertising and OMG, an Omnicom group, among other advertising agencies, said Al Benoit, the industry liaison at 4 As.
“There’s a strong emphasis, in terms of my role, to maximize engagement with the outside industry, as in speakers, internships, visits to the offices, and competitions,” Benoit explained.
So far, IAM, with the leadership of 4 As and the school’s dedicated staff, has been successful, producing a reasonably high graduating rate , Michelena noted. Plus, several of its former students are presently enrolled in college advertising programs, preparing them even further for the Madison Avenue world.
Kyle Allen, who has been instrumental in developing the program from the ground up, took it upon himself to learn from top advertising professionals. He picked their brains in every aspect of the business in order create a topnotch program suitable for optimal learning.
Allen, whose background is in communications and computer science, uses his knowledge and experience to help students conceive and implement advertising campaigns across a wide range of media channels such as print, film and the web, including social networking.
Allen’s meticulous attention to detail and devotion to his students began to turn heads, garnering him the 2011 Stanley Schair Career and Technical Education (CTE) Teacher of the Year Award for Excellence and Innovation. It’s an honor given to the teacher who has best demonstrated outstanding invention and practices in the subject matter.
While Allen always encourages his student to attend college, he feels IAM does give them a solid advertising foundation upon graduation to take with them wherever they choose.
“I tell the kids all the time that you cannot go into the workforce without a higher level of education,” said Allen, who’s also Canarsie Educational Campus’ head football coach.
“We try to push them to go onto college, and beyond,” the Work Based Learning Coordinator continued. “But, for all intents and purposes, they are prepared for entry level, fresh-out-of-the-gate jobs at ad agencies. They are ready for that, if they take advantage what the program has to offer for four complete years.”