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Showcasing Eric Baylin and "Moving Up Day"

"Finishing eighth grade is a major step in a child's education," explained Eric Baylin. "It's nice to mark such an event with a celebration. Parents need moments like that to commemorate the special passages, and they need opportunities to shed tears of joy. It all goes by so fast."

When Baylin, a middle- and upper-school art teacher at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, New York, heard from a friend about a tradition at her daughter's school, he knew immediately that it was something he wanted to do as part of his school's "Moving Up Day." The tradition involved displaying childhood photographs of students as they went up to receive their 8th-grade graduation certificates. Baylin's friend recounted how the photos made the moment more moving for everyone in attendance.

"We spoke to the members of the eighth grade class and told them that, as each student received his or her graduation certificate, we would be showing two photographs from that student's younger years," Baylin recalled. "We told students to bring, in an envelope with their name on it, one photograph taken when they were aged 1-5 and another at age 6-10. Better yet -- because the images would be shown using a computer and projector -- students could e-mail digital childhood pictures. If a student had trouble choosing two pictures, he or she could bring three, and the teachers would help select which two to use." The photographs, which were compiled and projected onto a large screen on stage, proved to be an effective way to visually show the growth of the students.

The display became even more meaningful for Baylin when his own daughter took part in the event. "I'm sure most parents in the room had tears welling up when their child's pictures flashed on the screen," said Baylin. "I was no exception. There was that beautiful little kid in the picture with her round cheeks and that wonderful glint in her eye, and here she was walking across the stage as a beautiful young woman. I was so proud of her and so proud of each of them."

During his first attempts at using photographs during "Moving Up Day," Baylin took slides and used a slide projector to display them, but the computer proved to be much easier to use. If photos are not in digital form, Baylin scans them or re-photographs them with a digital camera. Glare and reflection make re-photographing tricky, though, so Baylin recommends seeking the help of someone with knowledge of cameras and computers. For best results, Baylin crops photographs closely so the edges don't distract from the display. He also checks the order carefully to be sure every photo is in proper sequence.

"It always takes some work to gather all the pictures; as with anything, some kids turn them in the next day and some need to be hounded right up to the last minute," added Baylin. "We start more than a month before the event, to allow time for collecting and re-photographing photos, but it definitely is worth the effort. The pictures underscore the sense of completion and transform the experience into a moving rite of passage."


Eric Baylin also helps fellow educators celebrates each month with music in the Education World column Songs to Brighten a Teacher's Day. Check it out!
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Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
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