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MICA Lends Expertise to New Design Middle and High School

Local and education media outlets praise the Baltimore Design School

Posted 09.01.11 by MICA communications

Sketch of the new design school (courtesy of Ziger/Snead Architects).

Just as MICA has been instrumental in the education of thousands of college students, the College is now playing a leading role in the art education of middle and high school students. MICA President Fred Lazarus IV, faculty members, and alumni have lent their expertise to the launch of the Baltimore Design School (BDS), a visual arts middle and high school that will be located nearby in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

"When I was approached about helping to start a design school in Baltimore, I met with a group of MICA faculty," said Lazarus, who co-founded the school with Maryland State Sen. Catherine Pugh. "All of us agreed that this was both a critical component of MICA's mission and a core responsibility. The new school will provide an opportunity to develop design pedagogy for grades 6-12, broaden the scope of our art education program to include design education, and provide a great service to the children of Baltimore City. With the help and support of faculty and a great board of community leaders, this is all happening." 

MICA's involvement has been applauded by all of those involved. "With MICA, I have the resources, the experience, and the expertise of one of the best art schools in the United States," said Joseph Freed, the school's principal. 

The school is modeled after Miami's Design and Architecture Senior High. In addition to core curriculum courses, BDS will offer specialized instruction in fashion design, architecture, and graphic design, taught by professionals from the design community. 

Karen Carroll, MICA's dean of the Center for Art Education, is serving as the chair of the Education Committee for the design school. Lazarus, Carroll, and Fiber Department faculty member Annet Couwenberg are all members of the board. MICA alumni have also placed their stamp on the venture. Kate Morrill '05 '06, who received a BFA in photography and an MA in Teaching, has been the project manager to the Board of Directors and will be a part of the administration team as the educational associate for the new school. Leah Brown '07 '08 and Stephanie Cafaro '07 '08 will serve as founding art teachers, and Dustin O'Hara '05 will serve as an office assistant. 

Freed said he intends to continue bringing in MICA students and faculty to serve as mentors and instructors for the BDS students who are learning different facets of design. "The relationship with MICA not only gives us resources, it also gives us credibility," Freed added. 

While the BDS will benefit from MICA expertise, the rewards go both ways, said Carroll. "Given that there's a larger conversation in the field of art education about doing more to teach design as part of the arts education curriculum, it offers us an opportunity to model what some of the curriculum and teaching strategies might be like," she said. "It's almost a laboratory for thinking about how one teaches design. So from that point of view, it's an opportunity to really make a contribution to Baltimore City Public Schools and test out some ideas in the field about best practices in teaching design." 

With the first sixth and seventh grade classes starting this fall in a Northeast Baltimore location until the Station North building is ready, the BDS is poised to transform the way public school systems approach art education.

"There are very few design schools in the country, and this is an opportunity to start a school from scratch based on a very good model," said Carroll.

READ: Urbanite, "Reshaping Education"

READ: Baltimore magazine, "Education by Design"

READ: Concepted Magazine, "Baltimore Presents New Design School"

WATCH: WBAL-TV, "Baltimore to Open Design School in Fall"

READ: The Baltimore Sun (front-page story), "City Uses Creative Funding for New Design School Building"

READ: bmoremedia, "New High School Aims to Help Students Design Their Future"

READ: bmoremedia, "Drafting the Future of Education at Baltimore Design School"

Image caption: Sketch of the new design school (courtesy of Ziger/Snead Architects).