The Alumni Series features testimonials and interviews given by recent graduates of WillowWood School. In this post, Michael Wilson discusses how his time at WillowWood School helped him develop the skills required to forge a successful career in videography and photography.
How did WillowWood help you achieve your goals?
In high school, my goals included preparing myself for post-secondary education and finding a path to my chosen career in the workforce. I learned very helpful study and practical skills at WillowWood that prepared me for my college program and starting my career. I also wanted to become a better athlete and leader. WillowWood offered participation in a variety of sports teams and other group activities that helped me develop these skills.
What extracurricular activities did you participate in?
I took part in a number of sports at WillowWood. I enjoyed participating in golf, curling, bowling, and cross country. In Grade 9, one of my teachers, Jeff, started hosting sessions in the music room, which allowed students to play music together and form their own bands. This eventually led to me forming a band that I led all through high school – I was the lead guitarist.
How did the teachers help/make you feel during your time at WillowWood?
The teachers at WillowWood were very helpful, friendly, and welcoming. Whenever I needed help during or outside of class, they were always there for me. They gave great advice and instruction that I still use to this day, and they made the classes very fun and engaging. By the time I graduated, I felt very ready for life after high school.
What school did you attend after WillowWood? What did you study there?
I went to Centennial College for Broadcasting & Film and graduated in 2016.
Is there anything else you want parents to know?
WillowWood is a very diverse, inclusive, and welcoming school. It provides opportunities for students to learn, make friends and participate in a variety of events, sports, and activities. The class sizes are much smaller than at public schools, so it is easier for students to receive whatever help and attention they may need from their teachers.
The school teaches valuable life skills such as work ethic, social skills, leadership, and job preparation that have been a great help to me since graduating in 2013.
List your accomplishments and achievements since graduating from WillowWood.
During my time at Centennial College, I enjoyed contributing to a number of award-winning productions. I won an award for "Best Reality Edit" and a video I worked on as an art director won "Best Music Video".
My final year at Centennial was the most memorable. I produced a short documentary about wheelchair basketball that was nominated for "Best Short Documentary". It was a great experience filming and editing this production. My time in the program ended with an internship at CBC, which I really enjoyed because it provided me with great exposure to a media production environment.
Since graduating from Centennial, I have been a professional videographer, photographer, and editor and have performed this work for a wide variety of companies and clients including CBC, CAMH, and The Neighbourhood Group (TNG) Community Services. I have also done considerable work for clients in the disability communities including Variety Village, ParaSport Ontario, and Autism Speaks Canada. These companies and organizations have used my work to promote themselves, and their events, and tell their stories.