Did you know that Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors in high schools all over the world come to Maine College of Art in the summers for our Pre-College program to learn what it means to be a real artist in a real art school? Since the 1980’s we have brought thousands of students to the historic arts district of Portland, Maine to take hands-on classes with our expert, award-winning artists and makers in our state-of-the-art studios. When the pandemic shut down our facilities to Pre-College in 2020, we knew that we’d be developing an online program to complement our in-person offering; and even though we are opening our doors to about half the number of students we usually bring to campus in the summers, we are still offering an online PC this summer, 2021, and the enrollments are pouring in. Online PC students will be treated to an eLearning experience designed by an expert instructional designer while they earn 3 college credits! They can choose from hybrid classes that Zoom into in-person classrooms for Animation and Game Arts with Award-winning animator, Adam Fisher, or Comic Book Illustration with Michael Connor. Or, they can choose one of our fully online options and connect with an instructor in their home studio for Online Drawing, Painting, or our latest offering: Salt Institute Pre-College Podcasting with alum and Fulbright Scholar, Carly Peruccio!
The Salt Institute for Documentary Storytelling has been producing documentarians in Maine since 1974, and the alum from our Graduate Certificate Program go on to do amazing things. From working on shows like Wolverine, Vice, and Jon Stewart, to contributing to Slate, Gimlet, and National Public Radio, our alumni network runs deep. Salt at MECA is proud to offer this introduction to podcasting to high school students during our Pre-College 2021 term this July, and we are equally delighted to announce the instructor. Carly Peruccio Salt ‘19, is a talented storyteller. Her audio work is well known in New England, where she was a Visiting Fellow at the University of New Hampshire’s Sustainability Institute and a podcaster for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. A Bates College graduate, Carly has designed podcasting courses for elementary school students in South Portland, Maine and has taught English to high school students in Luxembourg City as part of her Fulbright Fellowship work.
“When you’re an audio producer, your job is to talk to people about their lives, their feelings, their experiences,” says Peruccio. “Then, using sound, you tell a story based on what you’ve learned. I’ve found that doing this work has made me more curious and empathetic; in this sense, podcasting, like any artform, really can help you see the world with fresh eyes (and ears).”
“We are very excited to offer podcasting to online Pre-College students,” says Associate Dean for both the Salt and Pre-College programs, Araminta Matthews. “Whenever I work in eLearning design, I tell myself and the faculty designing courses to think about what they will be able to do online that they would not be able to do in person. It is a way to help flip the script for instructional design. What can Pre-College offer online that it couldn’t offer in-person due to space limitations and social distancing? The Salt Institute’s Podcast storytelling, of course!” The Salt Institute is a leader in storytelling and produces expert podcasters each Fall and Spring with our 15-week Graduate Certificate program. “Since our new Director, Isaac Kestenbaum Salt ‘08, joined the team in August of 2020, we’ve been talking about how to get Salt back into secondary education. It’s like a convergence of opportunities--Salt’s goals, Pre-College’s online needs, and our niche specialization in podcast storytelling all coming together with our very own Carly Peruccio ready to champion the way!”
“Continuing Studies, the Office that facilitates Pre-College at MECA,really had to reinvent itself during the pandemic,” says CS Director, Nik Bsullak. “We had to learn how to go from face-to-face studio classes for the general public to offering fully online studio classes to a much larger public audience. We have been wildly successful transitioning to eLearning. Our courses sometimes fill up in a single day.”
Carly loves working with youth. “You’ll produce your own stories in this workshop. In the process, you’ll develop your listening, interviewing, writing, editing, feedback, and sound design skills. This means you’ll leave the workshop ready to produce podcasts of your own. I hope you’ll also carry with you a stronger appreciation for all forms of storytelling, whether it’s audio, film, photography, or writing.” This program is designed to build confidence and skill in podcast-development. Carly adds, “I know that it takes courage to share your work with other people. This workshop is a chance to experiment and try new things alongside a supportive group. This summer, let’s have fun making audio and learning from each other along the way!”
“What I love about this opportunity is how accessible it is,” says Matthews. “One of my favorite things to do with web-faciliated instruction is to look for the open source opportunities--what anyone and everyone can access--and, in this case, that’s the software and recording device.” Carly is committed to offering this course using the open source recording software, Audacity, and focusing on the recording opportunities available in the average Smartphone in order to demonstrate how we can make polished, publication-ready podcasts with what we already have on hand. This means anyone with a simple Smartphone and a web-connected laptop can take this class.
“At Salt, I found a creative community. Even after our semester ended, my classmates and I are still collaborators, editors, and friends,” says Peruccio. “I treasure this.” We are excited to bring this community to MECA Online Pre-College 2021. Students will come in strangers and leave talented collaborators ready to take on the world.