Jefferson Media Arts Academy (JMAA)
Instructor Steve Bachrach
Provide a dynamic learning environment, characterized by exposure to a variety of media technologies, coordinated interdisciplinary teaching strategies, and project-based multi-modal evaluation, for Jefferson High
Change the existing school culture by fostering student creativity and self-expression, developing literacy and leadership skills, eroding the drop-out rate, and raising expectations.
Secure for every student the option to continue their formal education at a college or university.
Create employment opportunities throughout the New Media and Entertainment fields for Jefferson graduates.
Combat "negative" forces in the neighborhood by positioning the school as a place of pride and a center for intra and extra-community communication.
Thomas Jefferson High School is one of Los Angeles' oldest educational facilities. Distinguished alumni include Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche, choreographer Alvin Ailey, and jazz saxophone great Dexter Gordon. The school is located in South-Central Los Angeles, one of the poorest and most crime-riddled sections of the city. The overwhelming majority of Jefferson students are either immigrants or children of immigrants. Most of these children enter the school as Limited-English-Proficient learners. All of the students are "at-risk" (if statistics from recent years hold true, sixty-five percent of the students who entered Jefferson as ninth-graders three years ago will no longer be there to walk the stage as graduating seniors this June.) Approximately eighty percent of our students qualify for the Federal School Lunch Program.
Jefferson High already houses 3 Academies:The Early College Academy (honors classes, A.P., and college prep)Each academy offers coordinated learning and a school-within-a-school family atmosphere. Teams of teachers collaborate in planning curriculum and in monitoring student progress on a personal basis.
The Humanitas Academy (thematic, inter-disciplinary instruction)
The Perkins Academy (linking vocational and academic instruction within a school-to-work focus. )
Initiated in January, 1996, by Principal Virginia Preciado and Teacher-Coordinator Steve Bachrach with the goal of increasing inspiration and opportunity for Jefferson students, the Jefferson Media Arts Project currently offers comprehensive instruction in film history and criticism, screenwriting, film/video production and post-production. Thanks in large part to generous support from the entertainment industry (including in-kindAcademy Courses
donations in the past year of film from Eastman Kodak, processing by 4MC Laboratory Services, a camera dolly from Paramount Pictures, plus lighting and editing equipment from The American Film Institute) the program's Advanced Cinema students are currently hard at work producing approximately twenty short narratives in 16-millimeter format. These films are scheduled for completion in August, 1998, with a debut exhibition sponsored by Eastman Kodak and possible inclusion in the 25th Telluride International
Film Festival (if they are completed in time for the festival's selection process.)
Although still in its infancy, the Media Arts Project has already produced graduates who have gone on to continue their media studies at U.C.L.A., U.C. Santa Cruz, Hampshire College, San Jose State University, C.S.U. Monterey Bay and Cal State L.A. The program presently serves 100 students and offers 3 courses:
Film A & B (Introduction to Film)
This course initiates students into the program. The approach, keeping
with the specific needs of the school's population, is literature-based
(beginning, improbably enough, with an overview of Aristotle's Poetics) as
well as project-oriented (students check out 8 mm. video camcorders,
completing 3 individual and/or group video assignments and numerous shorter
"sketches".) Students learn film's early history, the basics of dramatic
narrative structure, documentary techniques, screenwriting, storyboarding,
cinematography, sound design, and post-production. Films and videos serve
as primary texts for study, in addition to printed materials and classroom
demonstrations. Student projects are screened in class to develop critique
Cinema/Film, The Integrated Art (Advanced Film Production Workshop)
In this collaborative, project-oriented course, students work in groups to
write, produce and edit their own 16-millimeter short films. Emphasis is
placed on projects which are rooted in the surrounding community and which
comment on local culture. Because of the complexity of the task,
coursework occurs year-round: after school, on weekends, and during
off-track "vacation" time. Students are encouraged at all times to
consider themselves as media-makers and they attend local screenings
(e.g.-U.C.L.A.'s Melnitz Hall, Columbia University Graduate Work at Fox
2000) and events whenever possible. Students were official guests of last
year's Telluride Festival, holding meetings with John Sayles, Haskell
Wexler, Ken Burns, Kasi Lemmons, Mexican filmmaker Carlos Markovich, and
Producer/Festival Founder Tom Luddy.
This small (12 student) class functions as a Broadcast Journalism Seminar,
with participants learning news story structure, interviewing skills,
lighting, camera (Panasonic AG-456 S-VHS) operation, microphone
selection/usage, and news editing. In addition to a slew of special-order
projects made to support and document instruction and events at the school,
the class this year has just completed Home of the Democrats, a 14-minute
video documenting Jefferson's history and current attractions.
Two years after its inception, the JMAP program is poised to move from independent elective courses to a cohesive three year program in which media technology and core academic courses are linked. For example,
students who are reading Romeo & Juliet in 10th grade English might at the same time be viewing Franco Zefferelli's film version, then breaking into groups, reblocking and refilming different versions of Tybalt's death in Intro To Film.
The Jefferson Media Arts Academy (JMAA) will debut as a spin-off of TJHS's Early College Academy (ECA). It builds upon structures already in place and teachers already functioning in a teamed framework. Beginning in 10th grade, students who choose to enter JMAA will have the flexibility to take either honors or non-honors-level classes in the core subjects of English, Social Studies and Science. In addition, they will embark upon a specialized curriculum in Fine Art and New Media, designed to open doors to the Entertainment world while invigorating their daily academic experiences. The 3-year JMAA pathway will take students from introductory media instruction all the way to independent, professional production. At the same time, college-prep support will be provided throughout the JMAA-ECA Program. This will include after school tutoring, "Big Brother/Big Sister" peer counseling, and SAT prep. courses (in conjunction with THE PRINCETON REVIEW.)
Once this year's incoming class of tenth graders learns the fundamental concepts in the introductory film class, they will branch out according to their own interests in 11th and 12 grades. Upperclassmen can select from such courses as animation, set design and construction in addition to the Advanced Film Workshop and Media Workshop presently offered. Here is a brief overview of the new academy's program:
10th grade: in addition to the 3 above-mentioned core courses, plus Math and P.E., all students will enroll in the Introduction To Film course (outlined above). This will provide them with a common technical and conceptual take-off point for the years that follow.
11th grade: Students branch out. They've fulfilled their P.E. requirement and pick up a foreign language. Media instruction extends in one of four directions: Advanced Film Production I, Animation I, Media Workshop I, Stage Design & Construction I.
12th grade: Specialization continues, with an emphasis on thesis portfolio projects. Advanced Film Production II, Animation II, Media Workshop II and Stage Design II will be offered, along with a myriad of internship opportunities at studios, animation, effects and editorial houses, agencies, and production crews.
Flexible Scheduling of Academy Classes
JMAA adds an important career focus to an solid academic structure already found in the Early College Academy Program. Students in JMAA are expected to take the four core courses of English, Science, Social Studies and Math throughout their high school career, and when combined with the JMAA's specialized instruction, will be well positioned to apply to a four year college or university.
The academy schedule is arranged to
provide the following benefits:
Tenth Grade team of Mr. Muskrath, Ms. Ewell, Mr. Dennis and Mr. Bachrach share the same sixty students.
Students can move between honors and non-honors classes without leaving the team.
The JMAA media courses each contain a mix of students from the honors and non-honors strands.
Clearly, these new avenues cannot be offered without additional technological resources and accompanying professional development. We need additional 6-8 multimedia computers with graphics and animation software, and teacher teams need to be trained to develop necessary skills to creatively use this new technology. The donation of an AVID video editing system (Media Composer 4000, 6.5, or a comparable system providing professional non-linear capability) is currently being sought to bring our editorial instruction up to date with industry practice.
Leveraging Existing School And Community Resources
Jefferson High School's Professional Development Committee has set aside $10,000 per year for staff development in technology. We look forward to having JMAA team teachers use these monies to build their skills in using new media technologies. Additional professional development funding can come from such sources as Breakaway Technologies, a local non-profit computer training organization. We are also eligible for staff computer training as an Empowerment Zone school.
In terms of materials and costs, Proposition BB funds will network the classrooms to provide greater Internet access. Presently the film workshop has one phone line for Internet access. The school has Internet access via an ISDN line to one of its computer labs. Chapter 1 funds will pay for monthly Internet access charges, and assist in upgrading existing computers in the film program. Perkins funds will be used for set design and construction tools as well as computers and software. Finally, participating departments will contribute portions of their IMA funds to support linkage projects in the core curriculum classes.
The Jefferson High School Technology Plan was developed in 1995 and espouses three goals:Improve student reading and writing skillThe JMAA program is a logical and natural extension of the present technology plan.
Support school-to-work skills
Motivate students to attend school and make the learning experience more interesting.
The JMAA animation and film classes will be housed in the present 3400 sq. ft. film workshop facility. Some remodeling will be required and a more effective cooling system will have to be installed. The multimedia animation and graphic computers and a shooting stage will be installed in this location. The set construction class will be conducted 2 doors away in the woodshop.
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