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Digital Design Teacher Paves the Way for Meaningful Careers by Creating Magical Monsters

by Christine Hopkins, Visual & Performing Arts Coordinator at Booker Middle School

SARASOTA COUNTY – Three years ago, Theresa Burbridge, Digital Design teacher at Booker Middle School, was inspired to showcase student artwork throughout her community. Theresa, having experience teaching at the elementary and secondary levels, saw an opportunity for her students to bring art, imagination, joy, and whimsy to the community with an inventive approach to creating what we both are intrigued by and love — Monsters! 

Working with Fruitville Elementary School, Burbridge connected her secondary classrooms at Booker Middle School with younger grades to bring imagination to life. Burbridge states, “The Monster Project starts at Fruitville Elementary School. At Fruitville, students learn size and dimensions, which leads them to create a monster with a background. The elementary school students can use any medium to design it: whether it be pencil, paint, crayons, markers, and so on. And then Booker Middle School students receive the Fruitville Elementary students’ drawings and begin to create the monster digitally. My students first take the Fruitville Elementary students’ sketches and re-sketch them themselves so that they can move to designing them digitally on the computers. What makes this all possible is the equipment I have in my classroom — Booker Middle School has state-of-the-art Wacom Cintiq Drawing Monitors so the students can draw right on the screen using pens. And we do all of our work using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.”

Booker Middle School’s Visual & Performing Arts program is nationally renowned and consists of 12 disciplines of study including Digital Design, 2D/3D Art, Creative Writing, Dance, Drama, Musical Theatre, Chorus, Orchestra, Band, Modern Band, Circus Arts, and Technical Theatre. Theresa Burbridge has been running the Digital Design program for the last 5 years and spearheaded many inventive projects, including the Monster Show. Burbridge is also the driving force behind making her classroom up-to-date with technology, as she emphasizes college and career readiness in all her classes.

Burbridge states, “The Monster Show is a great experience for viewing art at Selby Library. The masterpieces from Fruitville Elementary students turned into designs by Booker Middle School students will make you smile, they will make you laugh, and what’s really moving about it is that this is a true collaboration within our community. We do this project every year and Selby Library welcomes us with open arms. It’s amazing to see these three organizations — Fruitville Elementary, Selby Library, and Booker Middle School — come together to celebrate community, camaraderie, and creativity.

The Monster Show exhibit will be open at Selby Library in Sarasota Mondays through Thursdays, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, and Fridays and Saturdays, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. The exhibit runs from September 21st through November 9th. For more information on this exciting exhibit, please contact Booker Middle School’s Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator, Christine Hopkins, at