Debra Winegarten

Debra Winegarten

The three most important words to learn to say are, 'I need help.' Debra Winegarten , Faculty , The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
What program and at what school do you teach? 

I teach Social Problems in the General Education Department at The Art Institute of Austin, and Introduction to Sociology at South University, Austin.

What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I knew I was going to be an award-winning author when my poem, "God is Everywhere," was published in my Temple monthly newsletter when I was in the third grade.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

I’m both an award-winning author and publisher, as well as an extraordinary marketer. I share stories from those different facets and experiences in my classroom when appropriate. I’ve been known to read my own poetry in class when it relates to the subject matter I’m teaching, whether it’s racism or anti-Semitism. I freely share war stories from my own career to illustrate challenges I’ve faced and how I’m overcome them.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

I assign research papers on social problems that make students learn about a particular social problem and engage with the material. They also have to present their research to the entire class, which gives them a chance to make the material their own. "We teach what we most need to learn."

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

This allows people to learn how teamwork is done, and how incorporating others' perspectives and points of view can make a project better than one individual can do by themselves.

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

The three most important words to learn to say are, “I need help.” And the sooner one owns up to not knowing and seeking a qualified, competent professional to support them, the faster they will make progress in their endeavors.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

I’ve published a brand new Jewish-themed children’s book, "Almost a Minyan," which is getting rave reviews in April, 2017. I co-authored another book which was released in June with Zvi Yaniv, a physicist with over 300 patents: "My Life on the Mysterious Island of Nanotechnology: an adventure through time and very tiny spaces."

My author website is here:
www.winegarten.com

My publisher website is here:
www.sociosights.com