The Art Institute of Houston
I am very passionate about seeing the light in every student…because it’s there! James Keller , Instructor , The Art Institute of Houston
M.A., Communication, Texas Southern University
B.A., Telecommunication, Texas Southern University
Professional and academic experience includes: News Editor, KRIV FOX26; Assistant Coach of the Debate Team, Texas Southern University; Speech Communication Faculty Member at The Art Institute of Houston, Lone Star College, Houston Community College, and San Jacinto College.What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
When I joined the Texas Southern University Debate Team and competed in numerous Speech Forensics tournaments at various universities, from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to Seton Hall in New Jersey, and international tournaments held in Greece, Paris, Rome, London and the Czech Republic! It was during those tournaments that I’d found my passion for public speaking!
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 am passionate about networking opportunities and their many benefits, so I work to ensure that my students see and realize the benefits of networking. I talk to students about real-life encounters that I have, and make parallels with practices and principles I share with them in class.
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?
Parliamentary debate and informative speech workshops allow me to connect directly with my students, providing them with structure and guidance as they navigate through the structure of debate and individual formal speech presentation components. My approach inspires them to push beyond their own perceived limits by exposing them to the benefits of implementing structure in their presentations, exposing them to various speaking strategies to better connect with their audience, and pairing them with another classmate for mutual support.
What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?
It plays a significant role in managing cultural diversity and the sharing of ideas that allow them to work together to form an alliance that is emblematical of compromise, eventually leading to a collaborative effort.
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?
I work to make parallels with helping them to see the benefit of perfecting their public speaking skills in an effort to enhance their interview skills, workplace meeting environments, and the ability to enact more of a positive, polished and structured approach to opportunities they will eventually have to present ideas to their counterparts in the workplace.
Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?
The vital need to network by joining an organization affiliated with their field of study, making a business card with their name and field of study, thus enhancing their networking skills, end procrastination, and become better at time management.
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 am very passionate about seeing the light in every student…because it’s there!