AS MICHAEL STEELE WALKED IN THE ROOM with his long jet-black hair, the judges quickly shuffled their scoring sheets preparing themselves for the next presentation. Without warning or hesitation, he burst out with an electrifying rendition of Iron Man by Black Sabbath. As his colorful electric guitar shimmered from the fluorescent classroom lights, the judges stood silent and stunned by what they had just heard and seen. Was this an audition? No! Steele's performance was part of his senior portfolio which served as a capstone of his experience in a career academy.
Steele's presentation was not based on his musical talent, but on the skills and abilities that he acquired as a student at Weber Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology, a career academy located in Stockton, California. Designed by Steele, the guitar he played served as his project. An animated Web page using a synthesis of computer applications like Flash, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe InDesign was used as the medium for communicating his educational skills and his mastery of technology.
Though his guitar performance may have been electrifying, his past school experiences were anything but. Frustrated by his lack of educational progress and motivation at a traditional high school, Steele's exasperated parents decided to try the career academy approach. When Steele was exposed to learning in a career academy setting, he finally understood the relevance of his education and it …