Below is an interview done with new Freshmen architecture teacher and WHSAD alumna, Ms. Cumberbatch.
Who are you?
“My name is Ms. Cumberbatch. I’m a former student here that graduated in 2014. I’m currently a teacher, and I spent four years at Arcadia University studying interior design. I got to study abroad for a semester and then worked for an architecture firm for two years in the city.”
Tell me about your prior architecture experience.
“For two years after I gradated from college I spent my time learning about the design process, not just what to do but the legal aspect-the politics. Understanding that different companies use different laws, and learning that it’s not just creating homes, and there’s a lot more to it. I used AutoCAD, Revit, Photoshop, InDesign to create construction documents, design presentations, concept design, so that our clients can either put it out for bid or to complete a project.”
How do you feel about being in a new school?
“Technically this is my old school, but it feels weird being back because I was here as a student, so I had to adjust to calling my old teachers by their first name since I used to address them as Ms. and Mr. At first it was a little hard because when I came here I still felt like a student, but now that I’m getting more comfortable, it’s becoming a bit easier.”
Why did you decide to be an architecture teacher?
“I had a few hard experiences in college, and I would like to pass on the knowledge that I learned to future generations so they don’t make the same mistakes I did. It doesn’t make sense for somebody else to go through the same thing that I did if I can provide them with the knowledge that I didn’t have. I also want to help make this program more expansive than when I was here because when I was here there wasn’t an interior design program. So now that I’m here and have more experience, I would like to expand the program so that it can reach more people, and we could have a vast program for kids to select from so that they know the ins and outs when they get to college and will be prepared.”
How did WHSAD impact you in your transition from high school to college to career?
Learning AutoCAD at WHSAD gave me the upper hand especially when studying abroad in Italy. I was able to utilize the skills here to create my projects a bit faster than the other kids in my class. Through my internships, I learned how to conduct myself in a professional manner and networked. SkillsUSA helped me with performing under pressure and learning to find my voice through delegation. Co-op Tech exposed me to the construction side of design. WHSAD also gave me a home to come back to. The support system here has helped me from the day I set foot in this building. During any free time, I would stop to share my concerns, and someone always had an answer or they would point me in the right direction. The open door policy doesn’t stop when you graduate; it’s always open to those who are willing to walk back through.
How will your experience as an architect influence your plan for teaching WHSAD students?
From my two years in the field, I realized that college doesn’t prepare you for real world scenarios. My goal here is to provide an Interior Design program that offers situations that you will often see come up in the field. In order for me to do so, I have to equip the students with the right software and technical skills that are currently used in the field today. Most times, companies are looking for people who have 10 years of experience from an entry level employee. So why not give them what they want. By teaching our students how to read construction documents, to understand ADA compliance, to create finish boards, and to design development packages, they will be ahead of the curve. The idea is for them to have a basic and general understanding of different aspects of Interior Design so that they can just continue to build as time goes on.