Angela Ackerman

Christa McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School , Framingham MA

Study photojournalism and storytelling with expert Stella Johnson in Chania, Crete, while documenting personal stories and daily life in Nea Chora to create a documentary narrative of compelling images that tell a story.

Where I've Been

  • Chania, Greece

My Fellowship in Images

Aptera family welcomes us into their home
Central Market Window Silhouette
Vamos Laiki Grandmother and Grandson
Old Venetian City, Chania
Chania Bus Station
Embroidery Woman at Folkloric Museum

Your Personal and Professional Growth

How have your knowledge, skills and capabilities grown?

My FFT Photographic Workshop, Seeing Crete with Stella Johnson, represents a huge learning curve of increased photographic knowledge, increased documentary skills, as well as increased interpersonal skills. Participating daily in a rigorous critique process helped hone my "seeing skills" and strengthened my resolve to search for powerful images. Image-making and focused intention on framing can spin a story in different directions. I was also able to be more at ease getting closer to subjects.

As a result, in what ways will your instructional practice change?

As a result of this experience, I am more sensitive to the struggles of the creative process and the medium, and I will adapt my practice-more feedback, more checkists, and mini steps. Having students revisit/redo shots can be very helpful. I was very inspired from a woman who was creating beautiful embroidered designs at the Folkloric Museum in Chania. Despite the language barrier we forged a connection and her dedication and perseverance to her craft reminded me of my process and energized me.

What is the greatest personal accomplishment of your fellowship?

My greatest personal accomplishment was to create a body of work I am proud of despite both technical setbacks and less overall photo experience than my cohort. This allowed me to draw from personal experience and persevere through the process relying on my strong design framing sense and believing that with time and patience things would resolve themselves. Another personal goal was to face the fear of getting close enough to people and subject matter, photo timing, and exploring a new medium.

Impact on Your Classroom, School and Community

How will your experiences positively impact student learning in new ways?

I plan to take the new skills and experience and use these photos in my photojournalism unit of study, to bring an authenticity to my teaching and I intend to use it to get kids to engage more in their work and help them overcome many of the challenges that I faced. It is my belief that helping kids review images with a discerning eye to answer questions including: What do I want to say? How does this picture read? and What am I communicating to my viewer? will be incredibly valuable.

What are your plans for working collaboratively with colleagues?

My role at school is to visit classrooms and co-teach to help colleagues engage students in creating high quality final products. The learning curve of on the job photographic learning and feedback from the workshop pros made me realize that to get great work sometimes you have to risk ruining it to find a unique solution again. My plan is to show my photos, act as mentor, and provide new additional support with the design process by both honing visual skills and fine-tuning storytelling skills.

Imagining the Future

How do you envision celebrating of your students’ new learning?

I envision celebrating my students' new implemented learning at a Culminating Event of their Immigration Expedition with students, faculty, parents, friends, as well as the local community. My colleagues and I are planning to work collaboratively with local families to tell their story of coming to the local community-highlighting their challenges, celebrations, and inspiration. It would be awesome if these stories were given an outside authentic audience in a newly created local history museum.

Are there issues or challenges in your school, community or the greater world about which you and your students might try to make a difference?

The world today poses challenges for those who are are related to immigrants or who are immigrants themselves. It is my hope that students will, in the course of their documenting other immigrant's stories, develop patience, empathy, and a new perspective of the challenges and share their learning with others. I envision their work with newly learned photo skills and enhanced storytelling skills will serve as a connection and visual display for the newly created Brazilian museum of Framingham.

How would you describe to a friend or a grant funder the most fundamental ways in which your fellowship has changed your personal and/or professional perspective?

This fellowship has changed me personally in a multitude of ways.The ability to experience firsthand another culture and to engross oneself at the actual site for a longer time is more valuable than trying to learn while being in a classroom. My opportunity to forge many new connections was empowering. Development of interpersonal skills, facing challenges both professionally and personally, and the time to reflect on the whole process is wonderful, and is a much needed gift for me as a teacher.