welcome to illuminate.

We are so glad you found us.

Our mission here at the school is to provide you with meaningful and practical knowledge than can truly inspire and make a difference in your art.  We aren't here to make you a carbon copy of anyone else, but rather provide content and tools to help you be your very best artistic self.

We've all had some sort of education, but oftentimes traditional schools miss the mark on what really matters. At Illuminate, we will focus on what’s important, what will really make a difference in your art and your business.

So to celebrate the launch of back to school this fall, we thought it would be cool to hear what our teachers had to say about the learning process by answering one question:

What is one thing that should be taught in school, but isn't?

© Hailey Bartholomew

"I wish I learnt about gratitude! Seems silly to say that… but it has been such a life changing practice for me. Learning to practice gratitude not only for life and all the beauty in it but also how to love and appreciate myself. This is something I have had to work hard to harness and do and would have been a great head start if I had already learnt it in school!"

Hailey Bartholomew


© Summer Murdock | Photographer

"I was one of those kids that excelled in school in my early years. I was told I was “smart” regularly. Then one day I started to struggle. I couldn't just show up in class and listen to the teacher talk though a concept once and ace the test. I had to actually study. I started to question my intelligence. Was I not “smart” because it wasn’t easy anymore? I wish someone would have told me that as long as I had an interest in something I could excel at it. Just because I wasn't good at it the first time I tried, doesn't mean I couldn't learn. The key is to focus on getting better at things you are actually passionate and interested in. When you do that suddenly learning is fun instead of painful. You stop feeling like you are always swimming upstream. Traditional education systems should teach us to focus on our strengths. Let us choose what we want to learn and quit trying to make us all so “well rounded”. The most successful people I know are not necessarily well rounded. They have hyper focused on learning something they really love instead of frying to improve their weaknesses. We can’t all be good at everything but we can all be really good at something." 

Summer Murdock


© Rebecca Coursey

I think about the school days I once had. Those days that are now nothing more than sound bytes of memory turned into garbled text of microfiche and song. But, they still sit with me. Those days. They are coiled into my blood, running like mercury through my veins; diluted but never dissolved. Those school days helped write who I was to become, as much as they undid who I could have been. I think about the school days that I once had. About the good and the bad. The heartbreak and the hope --the first kisses ---and first failures. That despite all its privileges, all the access and inroads it was supposed to lead young minds; it is often the things we don't learn in class, that propel our hearts forward even more:

That it was okay to love everything, love everything as hard as you could with all your might, and yet not be able to save anything. That the unlearning would be just as important as learning. That the dappled, early light that you watched spread across the frozen fields, in the dark of winter, on the way to school, would stay with you just as much as the words of a boy who was't afraid to hold your hand. That shame weighed heavier than guilt. That the ladder out was harder to climb than the ladder in. That the boy you loved at 16 wouldn't be the same man you would love at 26. That as a new mother, the 6 weeks would melt into 6 months, that would stretch into 6 years, and suddenly into 16.  That suddenly, you would be longing for their milky breath, as much as you would be longing for them to weather through the same heartbreak and loss you thought you could protect them from. And that still despite it all, there would be still be hope. And light. And love. And that you couldn't teach them everything in the short time they live with you. Even if you tried. And suddenly you are back to where you started. At school. At the beginning. At new corners. At inroads and exits. At all of the things you wish they had taught you when you were in school."

Rebecca Coursey


© Jennifer Tonetti Spellman

"The many definitions of success. Good grades doesn't make a successful person in all areas of life, just in one. It would be awesome for young people to know that success means different things to different people and that one size doesn't fit all. Also, that success isn't always what it seems. You can have a self made millionaire living in a huge home, completely miserable, or a working class hero living in a love filled home. Which one is 'richer' in life and more successful? Exactly."

 Jennifer Tonetti Spellman


© Leah Zawakzki

"It's not the stuff you learn in school that matters as much as learning to learn. I always thought that what they taught us would be with with me forever, but I've forgotten so many of the details I spent hours trying to remember. I wish someone would have told me this when I was young, so I’d have realized it was all for something more. That when you learn it’s a process and it's the work we do that grows and shapes us. The best teachers are the ones that know it's not about them, it happens in us."  

Leah Zawadzki


© Deb Schwerhelm

"Since I’m world / home schooling my kids right now and living in Japan, I’m not quite certain I know all that is currently being offered in the school systems but I have always wished that schools in America taught about important life skills. For example — money management (credit cards, loans, importance of saving, bank account management), home and car repairs, cooking, time management, people skills (manners, communicating, relationships), the process of finding a job, goal-setting, basic first aid, the meaning of success, the reality and positive aspects of failure, etcetera. While I know that these topics are also the responsibility of a child’s parents, I don’t feel that this information can ever be shared too much or that a child can be overly prepared in this department." 

Deb Schwedhelm


© Heather Robinson

"There is this thing that stands in the way of a student succeeding.  And that is self-confidence.  Without it, many fail to realize their potential.  I don’t know when exactly in childhood that this fear of failure begins.   But, the fear leads to a lack of confidence.  It causes a student to shrink in her chair hoping not to be picked on to answer a question.  It keeps that hand always down and never raised.  This fear has so much power over a student that it can cause one to question one’s ability.  Often times the correct answers are there.  The knowledge is there.  But without the confidence to share it, the student will never thrive.  In a heavily standardized learning environment, students must compare themselves to others.  This competitive climate kills one’s creativity and individualism.  I think that building a student’s confidence so that learning can be enjoyable rather than stressful is one of the greatest gifts a student can receive.  This gift can result in a life long passion for learning and personal growth."

Heather Robinson


© Rebecca Conway

"I think learning more about self-awareness could change the direction and shape the path for positive relationships and overall success throughout your life. I believe much of the understanding of emotional and mental wellness is the parents responsibility, and this can be an issue when there is negative behavior patterns or mental illness being set as an example for young minds. Your mind is the most critical tool in every aspect of your life. Having an outside source to learn more, deepen our understanding of our own thoughts and how to adapt and process them can lead to genuine inner peace, happiness and being your best you."

Rebecca Conway


What do you wish you were taught in school? We'd love you to add your voice to this discussion in the comments!