The experiment in alternative learning

The Foundry is a Project Based Learning (PBL) program created for high school students which focuses on real client interaction and training in all forms of the creative business and it’s requirements for operation. Career and technical education (CTE) provides a great environment for a PBL program to thrive due to the hands-on nature of the CTE learning environment. The Foundry program was introduced to the printing and graphic arts class at the Careerline Tech Center in Holland Michigan during the 2014-2015 school year.  The Foundry program was also incorporated as a program model at the Van Buren Technology Center print media program during the 2016-2017 school year.

The program utilizes the commercial printing industry practices and processes to train students in problem solving strategies, craftsmanship and team work dynamics. Using the graphic arts state standards, this program incorporates a design process that mirrors industry methods to introduce students to the world of being a print solutions provider. This is accomplished by finding unique clients that have complex and challenging printing needs that cover everything from corporate identity, branding, packaging, and stationery, using all types of printing and finishing methods.

The inspiration for The Foundry came from a experimental final project that occurred in our last trimester of class in 2014. I contacted The Image Group, a local creative media and design firm, and asked them to provide our students with a challenging project that would encompass all of their training and experience in our program. The company gladly accepted and provided a complex and rich experience for our students that many of them noted as the highlight of the year’s work. With overwhelming success behind this effort, it was clear that this experience had to repeated for the following school year and not just one time, but repeatedly throughout the year with different companies.

Through the Unite4Insight program, further research was made into the creative process that would guide these students through each process. Once again, The Image Group provided vital feedback and direction in the effort to overhaul the second year program. After spending countless hours of brainstorming, planning and preparing the model was ready to launch for the 2014 school year.  The first year running this has confirmed many risks that were taken and has produced a better prepared high school graduate.

The Foundry declaration statements

The Foundry will lay a new foundation by building on the legacy of design, print and production
through specialized project based learning opportunities built on industry standards of the design
process, business skill and craftsmanship, forging tomorrow’s imaging professionals.

The Foundry will be a place where durable, strong and lasting creations
are made through collective pressure, focused energy and high expectations
that drive a refining process of product and person.

the big pitch

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