Through the looking glass: Teacher uses photography to introduce students to wonderland of creativity, success

A lot more than an image can be captured through the lens of a camera. A glimpse of human interaction can be frozen, a memory can be saved. A photographer is taught to pay attention to detail, to step away from a scene to catch the bigger picture, and how beauty is found in unexpected places. Photography teacher John Burrows teaches students not only how to search for these hidden meanings, but also how to find their own passion and spirit through learning. Because he struggled with school, Burrows’ goal is to make learning relatable and interactive for his students so that education isn’t as intimidating.

“In the first grade, there was a student teacher who paid a lot of attention to my inability to read,” Burrows said. “This made me want to help students the way I was helped.”

Burrows’ teaching style, while unorthodox, reaches students on a different level. Junior Bridget Craig, one of Burrow’s photography II students, finds it more interesting than a regular lecture classroom dynamic.

“His classroom is hands on,” Craig said. “You get to do more field work. It’s more useful and applicable.”

The photography world is saturated with new photographers and has grown excessively hard to break into. Burrows pushes his students to pursue professional photography if that is what they are passionate about.

“They have to find their style and be comfortable with it,” Burrows said. “They have to be confident and put themselves out there. They can’t be afraid to hear the word ‘no’.”

The main goal of Burrow’s journey through teaching is to show people that education is attainable. He struggled through school, but he made it through and became successful and is determined to make sure his students have equally successful educational careers.

“I want kids to know that school doesn’t all have to be the same,” Burrows said. “I want them to see the creative side too.”

His method of teaching has has proven to be successful. Senior Erica Constancio, a photography III student, didn’t even consider pursuing education further until this year.

“I didn’t even realize that I wanted to go to college until I actually got involved with photography,” Constancio said. “[The class] made me a better student.”

While Burrows realizes it isn’t easy to make it in the art world, he has faith in his students; however, he ultimately wants them to succeed by being themselves.

“[My students] shouldn’t try to mold themselves to what everybody else is doing,” Burrows said. “I want them to know it’s okay to be exactly who they are. Be quirky, be funny, be quiet, be whatever it is and they will find their place.”

Burrows follows his own advice and says he enjoys his job more because of it.

“I’ve found that in teaching, being who I am makes me better at what I do,” Burrows said. “I realized that I’m going to teach the way that I am and the kids will achieve more because of it.”

And, according to his students, Burrows’ message has gotten through and changed how they view themselves.

“[Burrows] has taught me that I can’t be a sellout,” Craig said. “I am only going to be able to be myself. If I try to anything else, it’s not going to work. I have to be 100% myself, 100% of the time.”