Art Teacher Gives Students a Voice Through Illustration

Jersey City art teacher, Michael Markman, talks about his passion for art, how he teaches illustration to his students and his graphic novel, "Surviving the Storm" about a family using survival skills to live through Super Storm Sandy.

#1919 11/3/2016






"We're pleased to welcome Michael Markman, who is an art teacher in K to 8th grade at the Doctor Michael Conti School in Jersey City, and the CEO of Markman Design. How you doing? Doing well. Good, good. This is part of our Classroom Close Up initiative we do in cooperation with the New jersey Education Association. We're about to see a clip that tells a powerful story about you. When did you know you loved art? Oh, when I was a young child I drew a picture of Superman on my mother's wall. [laughter] And my mother loved it, and my father freaked out. How old were you? I was about three, four years old. I was drawing all my life. You were into it? Yeah. Well, I'll tell you what. You're inspiring young people every day and we're about to tell a story. And by the way, this book "Surviving the Storm" is about a powerful experience getting through Superstorm Sandy. But let's take a look at the work that our partners at the NJEA are doing in connection with Classroom Close Up that tells your story better than we could. Go ahead. [music playing] This is a comic book that I created called "Surviving the Storm". I wrote this during Hurricane Sandy. It was very traumatic during Hurricane Sandy. We lost power for nine days and we had to figure out things to do to keep us sane. I needed something as therapy so that I can get through the trauma of not having power for nine days and trying to keep my family calm as well. Every day, I'd wake up about five o'clock in the morning as soon as the light would come out, and I would sit downstairs in the kitchen by myself, and I would draw out the events that happened the day before. We went downstairs to turn off the alarm and put as much food as we could in the freezer. I found a gas station that was open. The children act out and read the story, and then we have a discussion about what obstacles have they faced in their life? How did they overcome those obstacles? In second grade I had trouble reading, and so I overcame it by my mom... And from that discussion, it leads them into writing a story with Ms. Faisal about their life and their obstacle. Are you guys excited to do a comic strip? Yes! Alright. It was something he was inspired about during Hurricane Sandy. It was a real life experience. He wrote it. He introduced it to me. Immediately, I wanted to tie it in with the genre of personal narratives for my students..."