News Column

Educator profile: Walt Thomas

August 31, 2014

By Kym Klass, Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.



Aug. 31--Walt Thomas is a career technical education teacher at the Montgomery Technical Education Center, in the advertising and design technology program.

His inspiration came from the 1960s to early 1970s TV show "Bewitched," in which the character Darrin Stevens was a commercial artist for an advertising firm.

"And he used graphic design at the time, which was all done by hand, to solve the problems for his clients," Thomas said. "And I just loved that and said that's what I wanted to do."

If he had never watched the show, Thomas said he likely would have gone into fashion. His mother was a landscape painter, so art always surrounded him.

Did you always want to become a teacher?

When I was young, I used to bring my friends together and I would teach them. So there were signs of it. But when I discovered there was an opportunity for me to teach advertising design, and there was no outlet for other people here in Montgomery that were interested, that kind of piqued my interest.

Did you work in advertising design before teaching?

I was an editorial cartoonist for the Democrat Reporter. I was a visual curator for Tumbling Waters Museum of Flags. And I freelanced all over the country, and the board of education was one of my clients.

Where have you taught in the Montgomery public school system?

When I first got the job, it was in the (then-called) Montgomery Area Vocational Center. I started there, then they moved me to Robert E. Lee, then they hired me to get Brew Tech off of the ground. And then I came here.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

There's nothing like giving a child the opportunity to express themselves in an area that they would have had to leave Montgomery to even have an opportunity to even see if they liked it. I have students that I've taught that are working all over the country. I'm just happy to see that you have a hand in setting a foundation for helping someone achieve their dreams.

What do you hope your students go on to do, or be?

Into fashion, (work as) illustrators, magazine illustrators. Store front designers, art teachers, art directions, graphic designers. Video editors, game developers. It's endless possibilities.

Why stay in Montgomery?

Montgomery needs me. Sometimes you just have to stay in your own lane. I've been offered other positions, but I think this is what I need to do.

Walt Thomas

AGE: 60

HOMETOWN: Montgomery

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Montgomery

HOBBIES: Time spent at First Congregational Christian Church, graphic design work, music, theater

EDUCATION: Bachelor's of arts in commercial art from Alabama State University; a master's in management from Troy University

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(c)2014 the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.)

Visit the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.) at www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

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Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)


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