Encore.org has announced that Peter Rosten of Darby is a national 2013 Purpose Prize fellow. The Purpose Prize honors Americans 60 and older and is the nation’s only large-scale investment award for senior social entrepreneurs and creative problem solvers.
Rosten received the fellowship because of his work as the Founder and President of MAPS: Media Arts in the Public School. MAPS brings arts and science education to rural middle and high school students which promotes creativity and launches careers.
From a pool of more than 1,000 nominees, the Purpose Prize judges chose this year’s 43 fellows. Rosten is the only fellow chosen from Montana and only the second Montanan so honored in Purpose Prize history.
After more than 35 years as a film and television producer and entrepreneur, Rosten retired from Hollywood, and in 2002 he relocated to Darby.
Rosten soon realized a social need in his new community: a lack of arts education. Inspired by the passion and creativity that had motivated his film career, Rosten (in 2004) approached the Corvallis School District and asked if he could start a digital media class. The answer was ‘yes’ but with a caveat: the district had no money.
Fearlessly – and some would say foolishly – Rosten established the Irwin and Florence Rosten Foundation (a 501 c 3 non-profit named after his parents). Then with an old camera, a handful of low-tech computers, an empty classroom and $10,000 of his own money, Rosten launched MAPS: Media Arts in the Public Schools.
In 2005, Rosten, who had no previous teaching experience, became the first Montanan ever to receive a Class 4 videography teaching certificate based on his professional experience and not traditional educational history. MAPS became a state-endorsed and accredited class.
In 2009, due to student enthusiasm and parental and community demand, MAPS evolved and expanded into an after-school program and was renamed the MAPS Media Institute. Now serving all five Ravalli County school districts, MAPS has developed its own state-of-the-art facility that offers free courses in filmmaking, design, music and computer science.
MAPS is unique in Montana and to some degree in education. Since 2005, this public/private partnership has attracted fee-based clients (local, statewide and national) who compensate the program to produce award-winning commercials, PSAs, documentaries and short films.
“By combining our students’ arts education with the real world of business, MAPS provides an early window into the risks and rewards that awaits our pupils in the future,” Rosten says. “Although I had no experience as an educator, my years as an entertainment entrepreneur somehow transferred to the school environment.” Rosten adds, “Although I’m greatly appreciative and honored to receive this fellowship, it is a reflection of our team’s collective efforts. Fortunately I’m the only one of our group over 60, which made me uniquely qualified.”
Rosten’s other awards include: Volunteer of the Year, Corvallis School District (2005); Disney Teacher of the Year, (2006 nominee); Exemplary Service Award, Corvallis School District (2007); Award of Excellence, Society for New Communications Research (2007); Best Buy Teacher Award (2008); Community Asset Award, Bitterroot Chamber of Commerce (2009); Award of Excellence, Montana Office of the Governor (2012).
MAPS is a state-licensed educational agency (LEA) and the lead partner of a collaborative coalition of five Ravalli County school districts. MAPS students range from ages 12-17 and grades K8–12. 20% of MAPS attendees are home-schooled.
MAPS teaching style and the professional backgrounds of its instructors are the key to MAPS success. MAPS courses emphasize the development of higher level thinking skills, and the “cool” but rigorous yet instruction prepares students for college and global work success.
Student progress is monitored throughout the year to assess what a student knows, where they are going, and to implement a customized plan to assist them in achieving their goals. These teaching paradigms provide an avenue to individually evaluate progress instead of measuring one student versus another. If a student understands ‘what and why’ they are learning something, outcomes are authentic and relevant to their learning experience.
MAPS also places service learning high on its priority list. In 2011, the school instituted a “Give Back” program whereby students produce pro-bono projects for a wide variety of recipients. Most recently, the Montana Hope Project (www.montanahope.org) and the Bitterroot Youth Homes (http://youthhomesmt.org/) received these services.
Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, only four MAPS students have dropped out of high school. Why? MAPS students are required to perform at a high level in every aspect of their lives. How? By encouraging creativity, innovation and critical thinking while introducing students to career opportunities, MAPS keeps kids in school.
In 2013, MAPS received a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (i.e. “The Oscars”). In the Academy’s 45-year history MAPS is only the second Academy Educational Grant to be awarded in Montana. An unexpected outcome of this grant: the NYU/Tisch School of the Arts called and requested a site visit to interview MAPS graduates.
In 2013, MAPS student projects were nominated for four Awards of Excellence by the National Association of Television Arts and Science, Northwest. An Award of Excellence is the student equivalent of an Emmy nomination but on a regional, rather than national, basis.
To view MAPS students’ work, visit www.mapsmediainstitute.com.