Teach in 12 graduate Scott Boyd goes from graphic design, target shooting to teaching
As a member of his college shotgun sports team, Scott Boyd used his keen sense of focus and steady hand to knock small clay disks out of the sky in an instant with the squeeze of a trigger.
He doesn’t use that steady hand for shooting much these days, though. For the last several years, he’s turned it toward art and a new career in art education.
While competing as an undergraduate at Lindenwood University, Boyd became interested in graphic design after initially studying biology.
“It wasn’t something I really sought out,” Boyd said. “I didn’t really take art classes in school. I don’t think I realized that art was a serious professional endeavor until I was in college.”
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree and working in the graphic design field for several years, Boyd came to the University of Missouri–St. Louis to earn his teaching certificate through the Teach in 12 program. The College of Education’s unique program allows post-bachelor’s students interested in teaching to earn their certification in about 12 months.
Boyd was already well versed in art and design, and the program quickly got him up to speed on structuring lesson plans, managing a classroom and pedagogy. He also learned how to quickly adapt to the unexpected in the classroom. It’s all been useful this fall as he’s started his first education job as an art teacher at Lucas Crossing School Complex in Normandy.
Given his family history, the career change isn’t too surprising.
“I come from a family of teachers,” he said. “I knew some of the behind the curtain stuff pretty early. My dad was a teacher. His sister was a teacher and administrator. My brother is in education and his fiancée is in education. So, I’m surrounded by teachers. I decided to join the club.”
As a child, Boyd first learned how to use a shotgun in the Boy Scouts. From there, he became interested in deer hunting, and some fellow hunters introduced him to competitive target shooting.
The sport involves different games designed to test shooters’ accuracy and speed with a shotgun. The most common contests are trap shooting, skeet shooting and sporting clays. Numerous targets – orange clay saucers – are launched in front of the shooter from different angles depending on the game, often simulating hunting scenarios.
Boyd competed for a shooting team sponsored by a small gun club in Pevely, Missouri, throughout high school. The team competed in tournaments across the Midwest, and the experience helped Boyd sharpen his marksmanship. Eventually, he attracted the attention of Lindenwood’s shotgun sports team and earned a scholarship.
However, joining a high-profile team with multiple national titles was difficult at first, as Boyd was no longer the star.
“In high school, I shot for a little gun club, and in that pool of shooters, I was a big deal,” he said. “Then I go into Lindenwood, which is recruiting from all over the world.”
Despite the initial adjustment, Boyd was grateful for the experience. He was able to travel extensively and shoot with teammates who would go on to compete in the Olympics. He also discovered a passion for art and graphic design when he wasn’t on the range.
Boyd always had a knack for drawing and was only doing “mediocre” in his biology classes, so he decided to switch majors. After graduating, he went to work as a graphic designer at an apparel company, Affiliate Merchandise Group.
“My first six months or so there, I realized how little I actually knew,” Boyd said. “I think that’s how a lot of people are going into their first job, but I had an amazing mentor at that company – a crazy good illustrator.”
The company primarily designs custom T-shirts for fraternities and sororities, but it also has a retail side, which allowed Boyd and his colleagues to be creative and experiment with new designs.
“That was fun because we got to explore different ideas that had been rattling around our heads,” Boyd said. “My creative director was just an awesome dude, and we had a weekly meeting where we took cool stuff we found on Instagram that other artists were doing and had half-hour art talks.”
Boyd also worked on art projects in his free time to express his creativity. One even caught the eye of one of his favorite musicians, BJ Barham, the lead vocalist and guitarist of the alternative country band American Aquarium. Boyd has found inspiration for his artwork in Barham’s lyrics, which often focus on working class labor issues.
The song, “Brightleaf + Burley” describes the decline of the American Tobacco Company’s Pall Mall and Lucky Strike factories in North Carolina, where the band hails from. A line in the chorus, “Greetings from Tobacco Town, USA,” made Boyd think of bold vintage travel postcards.
“The design, it’s a digital collage,” Boyd said. “Basically, I took all the Pall Mall and Lucky Strike ads that featured tobacco farmers, and I cut those out digitally to make the letters. It’s a postcard that says ‘Greetings from Tobacco Town USA,’ but it incorporates those pictures of those farmers as they were depicted by the American Tobacco Company.”
Barham messaged Boyd directly on Instagram to say how much he liked the design and inquired about the possibility of using it in the future for American Aquarium merchandise. It hasn’t been used thus far, but Boyd is happy Barham appreciated his work.
While working as a graphic designer was fulfilling, Boyd realized he wanted a more stable career, and he thought education offered it.
The streamlined process and affordability of the Teach in 12 program appealed to Boyd. He also found lessons about the practical issues of managing a classroom insightful, particularly Assistant Teaching Professor Jennifer Fisher’s course. Those lessons helped him think through how to keep a class moving without freezing up or overreacting.
“Every week, she did a worst-case scenario, where some outlandish thing that’s going to happen at some point happens,” he said. “How would you deal with this? What’s step one? How do we get out of this?”
Fisher only had the opportunity to work with Boyd in-person for a few weeks before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he impressed her in that short time and later during online instruction.
“He proved masterful at adapting to a fully online classroom environment, and he managed to make himself stand out by consistently submitting top quality curriculum and artwork,” she said. “Scott seemed to have an innate sense of what would work in the classroom, and I really enjoyed working with him.”
He’s only a few months into his new position at Lucas Crossing, but thanks to UMSL, he’s prepared to deal with whatever comes his way.
“Every day, something totally new happens at work,” he said. “It’s a little bit of controlled chaos, but I feel well equipped to deal with the challenges in the field of education.”
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