Taos High School Case Study

Taos (N.M.) High School

New Mexico Students Develop Technical Skill Set, Boost Creativity and Readily Meet Deadlines with the Ease of Serif’s Design Programs

A computer teacher for more than 12 years, Tracy E. Galligan is always on the search for software applications that are easy for her students to use and easy on her school’s budget. For more than a decade she has used PagePlus and DrawPlus, two key software programs in the Serif Design Suite as the basis for whole classes and many lessons. The students pick them up fast and quickly master the technical concepts taught in her classes.

A business and computer teacher as well as yearbook advisor at Taos High School, Galligan has used PagePlus and DrawPlus for desktop publishing and computer drawing applications in four high schools during her career. She said the benefits are substantial in reaching both her and her students’ goals. Her students quickly have picked up both programs by Serif, an award-winning developer of professional and consumer-oriented desktop publishing, design and graphics software, because of the intuitive interface and common functions between them. Their creativity has shined and maturity has developed. They leave the classroom with a technical skill set and the maturity to excel at future jobs and internships in a technical field.

Serif is much more affordable and easier to use than even the programs some consider to be the industry standards. It takes us one to two clicks to do things in Serif’s programs that take us three or four clicks in some more complex programs.

— Tracy E. Galligan,
Business & Computer Teacher

“I only teach the kids for a certain amount of time, sometimes only a quarter or a semester, and they need to be up and running in a short time,” said Galligan. “Serif’s products are much more affordable and easier to use than even the programs some consider to be the industry standards. It takes us one to two clicks to do things in Serif’s programs that would take us three or four clicks in some more complex programs.”

Yearbook design program of choice

Galligan estimates approximately 500 Taos students have used PagePlus and DrawPlus at Taos High School during her first four years at Taos High School. About 60 of these students have used the software to create the majority of the pages in the Taos High School yearbook. Students working on the yearbook participate as a class rather than as an after school activity and do everything from planning and designing pages to taking and editing photos as well as creating and selling advertisements. Another 30 students are signed up to begin the process again in the 2010-2011 school year.

The students like PagePlus’ thousands of available templates and ready-made design elements, such as the background colors and textures, all of which enable them to more rapidly get their imaginative creations into a useable document and to comfortably meet their publishing deadlines. Galligan said projects move along more efficiently and students readily meet their deadlines because they aren’t bogged down with learning a complex computer application.

Galligan added: “They can get a jump-start on their designs using templates or they can build a page from the ground up, whether sports or clubs, or mug shots or baby pages. You name it, and they’ve done it. Since they are investing that much time and energy, students tell me they prefer to work in Serif’s programs over any other.”

‘More bang for her buck’

More than ten years ago Galligan was looking for a desktop publishing program and graphics software at an affordable price. She said she has stuck with Serif through the years in part because she gets “more bang for her buck,” that is, the programs are more valuable to her because she can use them across multiple classes and projects. Also, she is able to license the software to use with more students than with other solutions.

Galligan first used Serif programs at the Excel Charter School in Durango, Colo. Subsequently, she looked to Serif again for creating yearbooks and some computer application classes at Moreno Valley High School in Angel Fire, N.M. Then, at McCurdy School in Espanola, N.M., she used the programs while instructing computer animation classes and again for the school yearbook. While at Taos High School she has been using the programs with students in grades 9 – 12. Galligan has also encouraged students she’s taught at the University of New Mexico’s Taos and Los Alamos campuses and Northern New Mexico Community College to use Serif’s programs.

Galligan plans projects for her Taos High animation class with DrawPlus including animating 10 seconds of a penguin skating, 20 seconds of a jack-o-lantern talking or 30 seconds of volcano eruption, among other projects. In graphics classes, students create with PagePlus some staples of business marketing materials such as logos, business cards and letterheads.

During the 2009-2010 school year, some of Galligan’s students entered animations they created in DrawPlus to the National Geographic All Roads Film and Photo Project, a program that showcases minority-culture storytellers’ work to promote knowledge, dialogue and understanding with a broader, global audience. Out of all the animations submitted, the students’ three-minute piece on a Native American story caught the eye of the judges running the local program. As a result, a special animation category was created for the following year’s competition.

“To me, my classes offer more than just grades; they offer life lessons and career technical education. My kids can leave my classes and hit the ground running, knowing their way around computers, associated software programs and the lingo. They learn how to gauge when to use each program. And, they leave with a very tangible portfolio of work, much of it created with Serif programs, that they can use when they interview for future jobs and internships and as part of college applications,” said Galligan.

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