Media Center for Art, Education & Technology
Monterey County Office of Education
The Media Center for Art, Education & Technology (MCAET) provides the students of Monterey County an opportunity to learn 21st century skills in some of the top digital media broadcast studios in the state.
MCAET’s three television stations, on air 24/7, train students to produce news, sports, documentaries, animation, arts and cultural programming, and electronic games.
MCAET Director Hamish Tyler said he was brought in 10 years ago by Monterey County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Kotowski to take an analog station and turn it into a state-of-the-art studio. His charge was to pull the program into the 21st century, and make students its focus – especially underserved students.
“When I came in I promised Dr. Kotowski that everything I did would have a direct line to student success,” Tyler said. “That meant taking a look at 21st century communication technology to see how it was changing, and making our program responsive to these changes and responsive to our students.”
Students in the Regional Occupational Program, alternative education and career technical education, and those enrolled in the Millennium Charter High School, receive advanced digital media instruction at the MCAET studios.
The Millennium Charter High School, now in its third year of operation, is located at the Monterey County Office of Education campus in Salinas. Millennium students also use the Salinas Community Center that includes a 900 seat theater.
The college preparatory program for 175 students emphasizes visual and performing arts, digital media arts and Common Core standards. Its school day runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The MCAET school site has two full production studios that offer students hands-on experience with high definition cameras, lighting and audio systems.
Tyler said that teachers at Millennium work together with MCAET professionals to create unique learning experiences. For example, a traditional visual arts teacher might work with a digital media teacher to show how a student-created sculpture can be used in a 3-D animation feature.
To further its commitment to underserved students, MCAET’s career technology education program helps at-risk students develop computer literacy and digital media production skills that prepare them for 21st century jobs.
“This all gives kids a leg up in the industry and in college,” Tyler said. The program has relationships with the local community college, as well as CSU Monterey Bay and UC Santa Cruz.
Tyler said educational programs that used to be called “Radio, TV and Film” are now called “Teledramatic Arts” to encompass changes in the industry.
“Whether it’s YouTube, Vimeo, a web page, electronic games, 3-D animation, robotics, virtual reality or a blog, it’s another dimension to the performing arts we didn’t have 30 years ago.”
A focus on news reporting at MCAET helps students keep current with the transformation that journalism has undergone in recent years.
“Our local newspaper is getting smaller and smaller, and the local public broadcast station isn’t doing much educational programming any more. So who’s going to do this work?” The answer, he believes, is the “good, strong journalism at the local level,” which MCAET is training students to provide.
Programming on their television stations includes MCAETtalks, a weekly series modeled on TEDtalks that focuses on local issues. Tyler said students play a part in all aspects of producing the show.
The stations also feature educational programming, an animation series, sports events and live student productions, and a student-created, hour-long documentary series called “People & Places,” which covers local issues such as water use and public transportation.
Filming training sessions for those who plan to take the GED, or features on local artists, help MCAET fulfill its commitment to the greater Monterey County community.
MCAET’s success has been noticed. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson referred to MCAET’s studio programs as among the “best in the state,” and the California Department of Education’s Career Technical Education division named Millennium Charter High School as one of eight “Career Education Demonstration Sites.”
Tyler said MCAET’s additional funding, other than from the Monterey County Office of Education, comes about equally from three sources:
- A federal stimulus grant called the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program;
- A state career technical education facilities grant; and
- Donations from individuals, corporations and foundations who support the MCAET Foundation.
“This wouldn’t be possible without the donors,” Tyler said. “The foundation helps when the public sector can’t. But that’s just fine, because those donations are an indication of our support in the community.”