Students film interviews about future careers At Fuquay-Varina Middle School, Mr. Zirkle is using a WakeEd Teacher Innovation Grant to help students as young as 7th and 8th grade develop digital portfolios and resumes to showcase their skills. The grant was used to purchase cameras, lights, a microphone, a computer, and a backdrop for his classroom – equipment that has allowed students to explore a variety of digital media careers, such as marketing, graphic design, animation, and TV reporting.

Early in the school year, his students became entrepreneurs. Throughout the fall, they collaborated to develop marketing strategies and materials for virtual businesses. Students developed important entrepreneurial skills as they used the new technology to produce commercials, design billboards, plan focus groups, record jingles, write sample finance reports, and more. They even created a company “website” through OPResume, an online portfolio and resume building website, to share their creations.

Student learns video editing for future careerIn May, another group of students developed personal online portfolios. While exploring options for careers after high school, they honed their interview skills on camera, collaborating to film and edit videos for their digital portfolios. Mr. Zirkle encourages students to continue adding artifacts throughout high school, as digital portfolios make students more marketable to colleges and employers.

According to Mr. Zirkle, the heart of this project is summarized well in this quote from Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me and I will forget, teacher me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn.” Through our Teacher Innovation Grants program, he was able to integrate math, literacy, composition, and computer science into hands-on entrepreneurial experiences that prepare students for future careers.

Fuquay-Varina Middle School classroom


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