Sherell Laster, Ed.D.
General Education Instructor
The Art Institute of Houston
The more you communicate with very different people, the more you set yourself up to be a leader in your field. Sherell Laster , General Education Instructor , The Art Institute of Houston
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
There have been many defining moments in my career. But when our students graduate and launch their careers, I see the difference we all make. Teaching lets me be creative in the classroom, and to give back in more ways than one. My creativity comes from teaching students how to marry great communication skills with art. Mastering public speaking skills not only empowers students in their daily lives, but also helps them achieve their career goals.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I belong to several organizations, which, along with attending conferences and diversity training, help me keep pace with what’s happening in the communications field. I’m able to weave my communication background and my educational experience into classroom discussions.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
My class assignments center on oral presentation skills. Students deliver three main speeches—introductory, informative, and persuasive. But it’s the impromptu speech that forces them to think critically and creatively. These unplanned, spontaneous, and off-the-cuff speeches teach students to think outside the box.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
My students work together on debates, survival simulations, group discussions, and other activities. Because they don’t always agree, they realize how they need to be respectful and listen to others who see the world differently. All students take a public speaking course, which brings various majors together and lets them discuss creativity from different perspectives.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
I truly believe students who can effectively articulate their ideas and abilities offer so much to the world. The more you communicate with people who are very different than you, the more you set yourself up to be a leader in your field.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
If you can’t articulate why you should be in an important position, you might not be the ideal candidate for the job.