South Orangetown Central School District

Over the past week, three of our schools have hosted guest speakers–all hailing from artistic fields–who discussed their career pathways and creative process with students. “We seek out unique enrichment opportunities that not only align with our curriculum, but inspire our students to be curious, creative thinkers and to make connections to literature, the classroom, and the world around them. Each of these special guests inspired our students to read, write, explore, and wonder about possible careers,” notes Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Brian Culot, Ed.D.

Photojournalist Kirsten Luce has worked for National Geographic in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, but her most recent assignment was kicking off Nat Geo’s Explorer Academy Recruitment Day with fourth- and fifth-graders at Cottage Lane Elementary School on October 10! Luce was one of many real-life explorers dispatched around the world to talk about her work with students in connection with the release of Double Helix, the third book in the Explorer Academy series by Trudi Trueit, which is inspired by the experiences of Nat Geo staff. Luce, who was awarded a Getty Grant for Editorial Photography and nominated for a National Magazine Award, said that her love of animals led her to pursue a career in photojournalism. Her favorite assignment so far? Covering “How Fireflies are Keeping this Tiny Mexican Town Alive” in Tlaxcala, Mexico, which was published in the August 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.

At Tappan Zee High School, Drawing and Painting students were treated to an October 11 visit from author, illustrator and animator Evan Turk, who discussed his work and the path he took to become an artist. “I started college at NYU and didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I started working on the school paper doing graphic design and realized that was it,” he said. “So, I transferred to Parsons and majored in illustration…This is a real career: People will pay you to make art.” Turk brought original illustrations and published pieces to share with students, and offered advice to aspiring artists. “The best thing you can do is look at as much art as you can. Look at artists as colleagues and ask questions about why they made the choices they did,” he said, adding that travel and research is also important. “The more you can draw from life, the more energy and life your work will have.”

Actress, UNICEF National Ambassador and author Alyssa Milano answered questions and read excerpts of her new book, Hope: Project Middle School, with South Orangetown Middle School sixth-graders on October 15. Milano was inspired to write the book by her two children. “Kids are the first to volunteer to help, to take care of others and to speak up against bullies,” she said. “It’s what you all do naturally and I wanted to celebrate and nurture that.” Through the course of the book, 11-year-old Hope learns two lessons: To ask for help and to use her voice. “You have to use your voice and change your world,” Milano explained. “That inspires other people to change their worlds and creates a chain reaction for good.”

Stay tuned for more author visits in the months ahead!


Author and illustrator Evan Turk with his likeness in background