Come as you are, with your iPods, your tablets, your mobile phones, etc., and settle in with like-minded people who love music and digital media.
- FAIL, so you can learn how to find a better approach.
- LAUGH, because learning is fun when you make it that way.
- RESPECT, both each other and the different styles of media you’ll experience
- RISK, so you will discover what you never thought you could do.
Any wonder that award-winning teacher Therese Laux’s classes at Omaha North Magnet High School have a waiting list?
Laux first found her rhythm as a member of her high school’s drumline in the 1970s. Drawn to the sense of community she felt as a band member, she decided that she wanted more than anything to be a high school band director, a dream she achieved when she became Omaha North’s band director.
She became fascinated with the technology that was infusing schools on the East coast and, thanks to a 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant from the US Department of Education (written by the AIM Institute), was able to grow from a small room with sparse equipment, to the state-of-the-art digital media lab she calls home in North’s Haddix Center.
Laux says technology is the key that opens doors and helps students explore outside the confines of the traditional learning environment. From new iMacs with huge flat-panel monitors, to a green screen video set, audio recording stations, and new audio mixing board.
One of Laux’s core teaching philosophies? That learning is a collaborative endeavor, with everyone sharing what they know, learning from each other. She’s as much of a learner as any of the teens who walk through her room, and together, they figure it out. This approach gets results as proven by the wall-to-wall trophy case filled with trophies from multi-media and digital technology competitions.
Her favorite piece in that case is a picture of former student Shane Williams, standing in front of stacks of trophies. The first time her music technology students entered a contest they left empty handed. Williams posed with the trophies to send a message:
“Never again. We are never again going to be the hunters,” Laux remembers him announcing. “From now on, he said, we’re the hunted. I’ll never forget that, and our kids didn’t either. We’ve been winning ever since.”
Laux is proud of her students and her program, but recognizes that technology is merely the vehicle. “It gives us a voice to share our message, and it provides us the freedom to pursue our passions,” says Laux. “There is no limit to what we can learn when we start with community and then reach out beyond our classroom walls to find the answers we need.”