Instructor Judy Jackson sat down with us to answer a few questions about her work at Cañada and beyond.
Cañada Fashion Department (CFD): What do you enjoy about teaching?
Judy Jackson (JJ): I love being able to share what I know with students, to be able to see them progress in their skills, and get those “aha” moments. I also love to learn from them, and I do every week. Before I was a teacher, I was a performer. The classroom is like my own stage with a willing audience.
CFD: How does working in theater help you when teaching your classes?
JJ: Every class I teach is a skill I use in theater. Very few of us get to “practice what we preach” on a regular basis. Often, we leave a place of employment in order to teach what we did there. I get to continually challenge my skills when I work on a show. Plus, it’s fun for me!
CFD: What is a memorable production you worked on and why?
JJ: I’ve been lucky to work on many memorable shows. For many years I worked at Beach Blanket Babylon, working in crazy fabrics like sequined gingham (which we had custom made). Working there really pushed my ability to make all kinds of pattern shapes and work quickly under pressure.
However, the most memorable single production I worked on as a costumer was years ago when I worked as a first hand building new costumes for a new ballet being mounted by the San Francisco Ballet. It was “The Tempest,” a ballet which has since been remounted by other international ballet companies.
I got to work with a staff straight from Broadway. The costume designer was Willa Kim, who has won numerous Tonys for costume design. The pattern makers I worked under were all from the famous Barbara Matera shop in New York City. We had a huge budget–there were embroiderers, custom dyers, shoppers, and even finishers (people who do nothing but finish garments with hems, buttons, etc). It was the closest I ever came to actually working on Broadway. It was exciting, exhausting, but a real learning experience. Also, it won an Emmy for best costume on a TV special that year!
I have also loved designing the shows that I have worked with our Cañada students including “Ruddygore” and most recently “H.M.S. Pinafore.” Our students make a great costume shop team!
CFD: What do you value in Cañada students?
JJ: I’ve been teaching at the community college level for over 30 years, currently at 3 different school, so I’ve taught a wide variety of students. The students here are so exciting to work with. They are very creative but also invested in the learning process. They really want to be here, and to learn what we have to offer. They have a commitment to our program, and are always excited about the next great thing to learn. We have a fantastic faculty here, and the students know it. The students are ready to challenge us and pick our brains! Many of them have a wide range of experiences, and I learn a lot from them, too!
I think the best indicator of how special our students are is the turnout that we get every semester for the department wide luncheon (coming up on October 16th), as well as their willingness to volunteer at our amazing Artistry in Fashion event. This is first-hand evidence of their commitment and excitement over our program. And excited students are fun students.
Thank you Judy for sharing your experiences and kind sentiments!