Michael O'Donnell

General Education

General Education Instructor
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

General

Test the limits of your creative spirit, engage the world, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Michael O'Donnell , General Education Instructor , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

Fourth grade with Ms. Koontz, Orange County, California. I wrote a story about a kid who takes an adventure in a hot air balloon, with only peanut butter cookies, a camera, and a journal. Many battles with strange creatures while airborne, but still great fun. That seemed to be the catalyst.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

My professional background and the classroom experience are largely inseparable. I say this because I’ve been able to integrate my past experience as a news writer, editor, and copywriter into the classroom environment, which gives students a real-world, practical understanding.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

I’ve always liked Creative Writing II, where students recount a family story or fable that, for whatever reason, has stuck with them. It’s a great way to begin the course, because it gets students thinking about the importance of story in our lives. It’s a wonderful launching point as they began their creative writing journey.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?

Students, regardless of background, culture, experience, or skill set, must work together as they venture out into their career fields. None of us is an island.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Never constrain your creative energy. Focus it. Test the limits of your creative spirit, engage the world, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Anything else you’d like to share?

It’s deeply satisfying to guide students to the realization that they can contribute to the world around them.