Baltimore Design School and MICA Collaborate Through Teaching

A collaborative effort between then MICA president Fred Lazarus IV H’14 and Maryland State Senator Catherine E. Pugh, Baltimore Design School (BDS) is a middle-high, college-prep school offering specialized study in the fields of architecture, fashion, and graphic design. Located in an historic Station North building where Thomas Painter created the bottle cap, the school is currently in its fourth year serving 460 students in grades 6-10. Its first class of seniors will graduate in 2017.

BDS Principal Melissa Patrylo has been a witness to the MICA influence. “MICA has been the inspiration,” she said. “Our MICA teachers are integral members of the instructional faculty,” Patrylo added. She also noted that for the fourth year, BDS will have student teachers from MICA’s Master of Art in Teaching (MAT) program.

Leah Brown ’07, ’08 (painting, Teaching) and Stephanie Cafaro ’07, ’08 (general fine arts, Teaching) were the first two art teachers hired for then brand-new BDS. Brown teaches sixth grade studio art and ninth grade drawing into design. Cafaro teaches 2D design/multimedia. Both have achieved Master Teacher recognition from Baltimore City Public Schools.
Meghann Harris ’11, ’12 (graphic design, Teaching) describes BDS as her home. Harris is in her third year of teaching design thinking at the school, where she believes the art-centered curriculum gives students advanced skills. “Students in my middle school design thinking class come out with a proficient knowledge base of Adobe software, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and a bit of animation. By the time our current seventh graders get into their ninth grade of high school, their technical know-how will rival that of many high school graduates and college students training in graphic design,” Harris said.

Harris found success quickly at BDS. During her first year, the Maryland Art Education Association honored her with the New Art Teacher Award for Baltimore City. In addition, she co-sponsors the school’s National Junior Art Society. She sees the potential in her students to have the same sense of achievement. “Success comes in many packages. I can’t wait to see these students changing Baltimore’s notion, Maryland’s notion, and the country’s notion of what a successful designer or artist looks like,” Harris said.

Harris’ relationships and networking at MICA allowed her to find out about the school during its planning phase. She helped recruit its first class of students. “My advice to current MICA students: Make friends with your faculty and staff,” Harris said.

Molly Roberts ’12, ’13 (fiber, Teaching) teaches fashion design for 10th grade as well as digital photography skills for ninth grade. Her positions as a student ambassador and assistant to the special events coordinator in MICA’s Admission Office were crucial in her professional development. “We’ve got a lot of people looking to us to set the trend, so to speak, in terms of design thinking and education,” Roberts said.

Just a month ago she accompanied 10 of her students to a Fashion Forum at the White House where they participated in workshops led by famous designers and had lunch with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Rebecca Belleville ’10 (Art Education) joined the faculty two years ago. She teaches eighth grade studio art and is designing workshops and a project-based approach that urban learners find engaging.

“Things that other teachers struggle with, designing meaningful art and design assignments, developing student-centered assessments, applying knowledge of child development and psychology, making accommodations for students with special needs—all of those come to you second nature by the time you graduate from MICA’s programs in Art Education,” Harris said.