“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original size…”
This sentiment, attributed by Google to have been the original musings of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, or Albert Einstein… is now the teaching philosophy of Coronado High School’s newest film teacher, BigKat Manning.
BigKat, or “BK,” joined CHS in August of this year following a chance meeting with principal Shane Schmeichel, a meeting BK now considers ‘serendipitous.’ “I went to a teaching career fair at Liberty Station on a lark. Everyone I met was looking for a credentialed high school teacher, so despite my 15 years of teaching experience at the college level, there were no real opportunities for me. Thankfully, my kid wanted a piece of candy from every booth, so eventually I made my way to the Coronado High School booth where I met Shane Schmeichel, now the principal of CHS.”
Schmeichel was undeterred by BK’s lack of teaching credential, choosing instead to focus on Manning’s two Masters degrees: a Masters in Communication awarded in 2005, followed by an MFA in Digital Cinema in 2014. Within weeks of meeting, BigKat was invited to an interview at CHS to present a teaching demo to select faculty and students.
“I was on pins and needles the whole time,” says Manning “I really wanted the job because teaching film is something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Film, while a focus for Manning early in his career, detoured towards storytelling in the form of comics and children’s literature in more recent years. A self-published author of children’s book “Crackers, It’s Cold Outside!” as well as “Epicaricacy* Vol.1”, a collection of comics for adults, Manning says creative expression is fundamental to quality education. “Whether any of these kids go on to pursue film or media in college or professionally, the skills they learn in my class are relevant and applicable. They have to work as a team, so throughout the process, they are learning collaboration, time management, and cooperation.”
Manning goes on to explain why teaching film at CHS is beneficial for him too. “So much has changed and advanced since I studied Film in the 1990s. Being immersed in it again has given me a new appreciation for the art form, and the students just blow me away with their creativity and use of technology. There is a lot that these kids can teach me.”
Outside of the classroom, BigKat spends time with his own children: Scarlett, 17, and Kieran, 9, and continues to focus on his own creative pursuits in his home neighborhood of North Park. Balancing his time between teaching and creating is his ideal scenario.
“When I got the job at CHS, I was over the moon.” Says BK. “I still am.”
Paperback and Kindle versions of BigKat Manning’s publications can be found on Amazon.com.