A couple of years ago I was given an Aspire Award, which is like the Oscar for our industry. They asked how I measure myself, and I said, “By the success of my students.”
I try to give them every skill set, complete industry knowledge, and the ability to think critically so they can walk out of the classroom and into the field. But teaching is not so much to get them a job today—that’s easy. It’s preparing them for the future—for ten years from now, when they need to be confident they can make the right decision. I set up my class so they can learn from each other, the way we do in the industry.
In the presentations we do every third week, the students get critiqued by their peers, the way it would happen in the real world. I find many ways to help them get into the industry, and it helps that the market is right down the block. If I’m teaching a course on bedding, I can call the people at Calvin Klein in the morning, and bring the students over to the showroom in the afternoon. Presto! They’re right in the market.