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Yearbook Hero David Graeve and 21st Century Skills

TreeRing Yearbook Heroes is a monthly feature focusing on yearbook adviser tips and tricks.

David Graeve is a professional artist and full-time teacher at Houston’s Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School. As a need-based school, Cristo Rey Jesuit offers a rigorous college preparatory education that’s available to students from low-income families in the Houston area. With the pandemic and uncertainty of in-person education, Yearbook Hero David took it upon himself to identify new and innovative ways to teach students remotely while also addressing individual learning styles and needs. 

As an 11th- and 12th-grade teacher to a diverse student body—80% Latino and 20% Black—David understands the importance of preparing students for the future and exposing them to different career paths. With their yearbook creation positioned as a club at the school, the yearbook turned into the perfect tool to highlight these different career opportunities. 

Learn more about how David used yearbook creation to teach his students, many from low-income families, valuable workforce skills.

How have you used TreeRing Yearbooks to teach students skills they can use after high school?

TreeRing offers so many valuable skills for my students: skills like graphic design, marketing and communicating with customer support. These are all skills that are incredibly valuable and beneficial to life after high school. If one of my students encountered any kind of hiccup with the software this past year, I encouraged them to contact customer support on their own. Fortunately, the TreeRing team made this option very accessible and ultimately taught my students the importance of taking initiative and problem solving. The customer support through TreeRing has been fantastic. 

With TreeRing’s software, building the yearbook is quite easy for my students and many of them built the pages from scratch last year. This encouraged them to be creative and pursue their passions. For my students that weren’t aware of marketing or graphic design careers, yearbook creation really opened their eyes to those possibilities. 

In addition to unique skill sets, what else do you think your students learned this past year through yearbook creation?

COVID-19 truly taught my students the value of capturing real-life moments. Much of the Latino community in Houston has 2-3 family generations living under one room. This past year’s yearbook showcases so many family moments – more than any other yearbook we’ve had in the past. So although the pandemic brought forth a lot of hardship, it also brought many families closer together. I’ve seen a lot of pride shine through my students in that they’ve been able to capture those moments. 

What would you say has been the best part of using TreeRing this past year?

Its easy-to-use platform has taught my students how skills in the classroom can be used later on in the workforce. And how those skills – many of which have proven to be very enjoyable for them – can help them reach financial independence. I look forward to the next year in continuing our use of TreeRing to build onto these workforce skills. All of my students learn differently – some thrive better in the classroom while others perform better online. As a teacher, the pandemic has really shed light on the different learning styles and how we can work with different tools to ensure all students thrive. Even with the pandemic this past year, it’s critical to continue to arm our students with the skillsets they’ll need to flourish in the workforce. 

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