Over the course of two and a half decades on campus, Upper School Media Arts Instructor Angela Lodato has had a front-row seat to remarkable, exciting change and growth at Saint Andrew’s School. In her 26 years at the school, she’s taken on many roles, starting as a librarian (five years) before becoming Library Department Chair for the next 15. She always appreciated how Saint Andrew’s provided for the ability to grow professionally. Little did she know where that growth would take her.
As the computer technology boom began to revolutionize how students used the library, Ms. Lodato introduced the tools and techniques that were becoming necessary for students to succeed. As the department head overseeing these tech investments and implementation, she evolved into a technical advisor across campus, assisting other teachers and their programs. That expertise ultimately led to her being selected as Chair of the Academic Technology Department, directing and programming student courses in the computer sciences. Soon she began teaching several related courses, including web publishing and computer applications.
In 2000, as the school was planning a new library, Ms. Lodato recognized the need for a full-fledged video studio and media arts program that could be hosted inside the new facility. Within a year, the mission had been accomplished, the studio had been built, new equipment had been installed, and a video production program was launched out of the new library.
But a few years ago, as with all technology-based efforts, the need for upgrades to stay current became apparent. The cameras, switchers and video production tools couldn’t keep up with modern production techniques. But the upgrades to the new space and equipment would be costly. That’s when the Kessler family stepped in.
Ms. Lodato met the Kesslers during an admissions tour. Their son, Cole, was interested in video production and broadcasting, but there was a realization of the need for a more state-of-the-art facility. Through a generous donation, the Kesslers offered to fund it.
As plans were being drawn up for the Dr. Albert Cohen Family Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, it became clear this would be a perfect location to house the new TV and film production studio. Thus, the Kessler Digital Media Institute was born.
From broadcasting to video and film production, the Kessler Digital Media Institute offers students a robust experience. The list of upgrades is extensive:
Full editing studio with Adobe Suite on Mac computers
24 channel Newtek TriCaster 8000 video switcher with slow-motion replay and advanced graphics,
The capability to stream live in the studio or the lecture hall via remote-controlled cameras.
Digital audio mixer
Computer controlled lighting grid
3 Panasonic AG-UX180 4K studio cameras, each with a TelePrompTer
Green screen cyclorama
All this new equipment also allows for expansion of the Saint Andrew’s Media Arts program. In addition to the previous film, sports broadcasting, and general broadcasting courses, Ms. Lodato has created new classes including Film Study, an Honors Film Course, and an IB Film Couse. She has proposed additional courses including TV Documentary Production, Media and Public Relations, Digital Media and Special Effects, Broadcasting as Public Speaking, and a summer broadcasting program for grades 4-8. The Kessler Digital Media Institute also houses the Film Club and Broadcasting Club.
The ultimate goal, of course, is expanding options for students. “The trick to life is to create opportunities for yourself,” said Ms. Lodato. “That’s what this whole entrepreneurial center is about. It’s the whole spirit of the place, learning how you can grow and create new opportunities.”