89.1 WEMU

Combining Community Experience With Education Keeps Students Better Engaged In The Classroom

May 23, 2017

The photography classroom created at YCS High School by Nick Azzaro.
Credit Lisa Barry
Azarro opens the door to the classroom he has set up as a camera in the YCS High School.
Credit Lisa Barry

As schools and the education system continue to evolve, what’s being taught in the classroom has come a long way from just reading, writing and arithmetic.

We visited a local high school where students can make use of “The Learning Studio,” where an Ypsilanti photographer is combining community experience with public education, creating new opportunities for students.


Lisa visited Ypsilanti Community High School, where she was lead to a room by district photographer Nick Azzaro, who has turned a regular classroom into a camera giving students a shot at a better education focused on what they are most interested in--photography.

Credit Nick Azzaro

Inside the camera-classroom were four high school seniors who already know photography is their passion and something they want to pursue once they graduate.

Credit Nick Azzaro

Senior Dalijah Brown says the class brings her joy and keeps here interested in school…

Senior Teilo Wessels says photography helps him better express himself.

Lisa volunteered news intern Jordan Lemanski to be the model for the high school student photo shoot, and Teilo put his newly learned skills to work.

Lisa asked Azzaro why he decided to turn an after school program into an in-classroom photo services department at Ypsilanti’s high school.  To which he responded, "Why not?"

WEMU Intern Jordan Lemanski poses for the camera.
Credit Dalijah Brown

Typically, when you’re sitting in the classroom and the principal and district superintendent stop by, people tend to get nervous.  But the Ypsilanti High School Principal Cory Gildersleeve gives the student photography experience an A+, and superintendent Dr. Benjamin Edmondson calls the experience “outstanding.”

WEMU Intern Jordan Lemanski poses for the camera.
Credit Teilo Wessells

Azzaro says, next year, the Ypsilanti school district is further investing in the photo studio and plans to officially add it to the high school curriculum as an elective.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu