El Cajon, California
"You teach best what you most need to learn."
Mike Skocko is a graphic and fine artist who would still be designing, painting, and sculpting had he not discovered the joy of teaching late in his arrested youth.
Armed with a BFA and several teaching credentials, Skocko landed at Valhalla High School where he joins his students in the daily pursuit of artistic and personal excellence. Currently, Adobe® Creative Suite® 5 Master Collection software is the backbone of a somewhat atypical new media arts program.
Skocko delivers instruction and assignments via the web. The first seven years he taught he employed a static site but more recently uses a spiffy new class blog. His video tutorials, a classroom staple since he began teaching in 2002, enable students to work at their own pace. After mastering fundamentals, the students are encouraged to find their own voice. Controlled creative chaos is the overarching goal. Students quickly learn that self-motivated, self-organizing peers seem to be having more fun. Collaborative projects, always encouraged, never required, demonstrate the undeniable magic of synergy; the creative whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.
Much to his surprise, teachers from around the world seem to have found wheat amidst the chaff of his sprawling web presence. He regularly receives and grants requests to use his resources, as Skocko believes in paying it forward. His fledgling class blog has attracted over 100,000 visits (almost half a million page views) from 150 countries and all 50 states in its first 15 months. His students love knowing that their creative endeavors are being seen by others around the world.
Skocko's classroom, open nine hours a day, is rarely empty. He offers an optional Mac Lab Saturday School (6:15am to 12pm) twice a month. Amazingly, between 20 and 30 smiling faces continue to willingly show up each time he does.
His students have won state, national, and worldwide competitions. Examples of student work can be found in the links on this page and in the oh-so-flattering headshot you were startled to encounter when opening this page.
When not planted in front of a computer, Skocko enjoys the sunny Southern California life with his wife and teenage daughter. His artwork has been exhibited in San Diego, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. He currently fancies himself a budding amateur photographer and has an odd penchant for bursting into song; however, due to a tragic lack of vocal ability, the latter activity has been confined to the shower (per the request of his otherwise loving wife).