In The Classroom: Media Arts

Meet Michelle DeLateur, US Media Arts teacher who joined SVCS in 2020 and has brought a focus on storytelling choices and tone as well as a respect for the practices and techniques of long ago. She currently teaches a variety of classes ranging from Filmmaking to Capturing the Athletic World. When she’s not behind the camera or teaching, she can be found coaching Girls on the Run, helping with girls’ Middle School basketball, producing CTV News with the 5th grade, helping to relaunch the student newspaper, The Cutthroat Underground, creating marketing videos and managing social media for the school, and advising seniors (her secret to organization? Trello!). We sat down with Michelle to find out more about her classes and her inspiration. For students interested in the media arts, look no further! 

Q: What classes do you teach? And what are your goals with each? 
MD: Only one of my classes has a prerequisite (Video Editing, which is offered in the Spring. Filmmaking is a prerequisite) but all other classes are open to any students with any and all degrees of experience creating or viewing content! My goal, in general, is to help develop each student's individual voice, vision, approach, and creativity in the Media Arts. As we continue in this field, the cameras and the technology will constantly change, but the need for great storytelling, strong choices, engaging content, and concrete goals will remain.

Q: Which of these classes are new to the school? What made you offer them?
MD: I created Capturing the Athletic World out of student interest. Many Cutthroats came to me seeking to learn more about sports storytelling and social media cuts...so we decided to make a class focused on exactly that!

Q: What does each class hope to accomplish? What’s the latest going on in each?

  • Fall/Winter: Journalism: This course aims to help students become media-literate news consumers who are well versed in multiple news disciplines (writing, podcasting, visual essays, etc.). 
  • Fall/Spring: Filmmaking: This course aims to help students make creative decisions, decipher tone, and try new elements in their creative work.
  • Winter: Capturing the Athletic World: This course dives into how we tell sports stories, from the technology to mainstream events to social media, and how we can also become a creative force in doing so.
  • Spring: Video Editing will be offered for the first time this spring and will run in tandem with the FIlmmaking class. Video Editing explores the role of the editor as a storyteller and how shifting order, pacing, and visual manipulation can affect a story. Video Editors will actually work with the footage from the Filmmaking class, creating a professional video production cycle.

I bring guests into all of my classes to give students insight into how professionals in the world of media arts approach their craft. I also create a few focused lessons throughout the year as a part of the national Hour of Code event. And finally, I ask my students to consider and reflect on how to approach media creation with an accessibility- and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion-focused lens.

Q: Any notable guests who have come to your classes? 
MD: For sure! I love being able to bring in guests across the industry as I learn from them as well and I am inspired by their work. One of my favorites was Shanna Lockwood, formerly the lead photographer at the University of Auburn and as of last week, the staff photographer for the Atlanta Falcons. In Filmmaking, we’ve had cinematographers (and a drone pilot!) and video editors join us. During the Fall Term in Journalism, my students had a particular interest in film and television reviews and entertainment journalism, so public relationships specialist and Sun Valley local Katie Kornfield joined us to talk more about the field. 

Q: Could you share some examples of the types of projects you send your students out on?

MD:

  • “Stories Without Words.” Filmmakers are all given the same song and have to plan, storyboard, film, and edit a short film based on the song. 
  • Visual Essays. Students mix photography and text to create a visual and journalistic endeavor.
  • Production Assistants. I recently worked with two students on my own short documentary film which was funded by an Idaho Commission of the Arts grant.

Q: What’s the future for the Media Arts Program at SVCS? 
MD: In the future, we hope to build out a more robust Video Production club which provides more experiences to students, such as creating videos for contests and helping Marketing create content for the school. I’m always on the lookout for new gear and technology! So far, we’ve collaborated with Rhino to purchase new sliders and GoPro to snag 360 camera models. We hope to incorporate more gear in the future.