Enrichment program gives students opportunities to explore careers


By Julia Dacy

While summer vacation is typically a three-month break from the classroom, District 214’s Talent Development Program (TDP) Summer Enrichment allows students to continue growing academically between school years.

TDP offers weeklong enrichment seminars on a variety of subjects throughout the district. The goal of these courses is for students to try something new without the pressure of grades or a semester-long commitment.  

Rolling Meadows teacher, Kent Dyer, instructed courses on Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, T-Shirt Screen Printing, and Vinyl Decal Sticker Design. According to Dyer, these classes allow students to learn difficult software they would not otherwise have access to over the summer.

For Dyer, the biggest challenge of teaching an enrichment class comes with condensing a semester’s curriculum into four days. While t-shirt design projects typically take a month to complete, Dyer has simplified the process by completing certain steps ahead of time to ensure a meaningful learning experience for his students. 

 “A lot of students tell me they really like the looseness to the curriculum. In [Adobe Illustrator] specifically we’re teaching them a little about the software and how it works and then they have a lot of freedom to experiment and explore with it,” Dyer said. 

Dyer sees value in the Summer Enrichment Series beyond learning new skills. He believes these courses are a great way for students to learn about the visual arts pathway and potential careers stemming from it. 

“When TDP started, it was really geared towards AP students and advancing students and curriculum,” Dyer said. “I feel like while there is still that component, it’s also kind of moved into our district idea of career discovery.” 

Incoming Rolling Meadows High School freshman, Stephen Barretto, is no stranger to career-readiness opportunities. After participating in the district’s Next Generation Engineer (NGE) program, which partners middle school students with their high schools to work on basic engineering projects, Baretto looked for more ways to expand his horizons and potential career choices.   

“I’m not really that tech-savvy, but after trying out these new classes, I think it’s pretty interesting and I might keep an eye on it as I get older,” Barretto said.

Baretto took Dyer’s Adobe Illustrator course and also enrolled in the Photoshop class. Between learning new skills and working on exciting projects, he has no regrets about spending part of his summer back in the classroom. 

“It feels like it’s not even three hours. It feels like it’s half the time, because it just flies by,” Barretto said.

Incoming Prospect High School freshman, Taylor Macpherson, has hoped to become a graphic designer since she began doing sketches on her iPad a few years ago. So far, she has been able to advance her skills while working on projects like a design of her favorite singer. 

“It just feels right,” Macpherson said. “Seeing the finished product once you’ve spent hours on it is a good feeling.”
Julia Dacy is an undergraduate at the University of Denver double majoring in Strategic Communication and Socio-Legal Studies. She interned in the District's Department of Community Engagement and Outreach during the summer of 2017.