Cleveland Institute of Art
Christmas is coming early for students at the STEAM Academy of Akron as they will be unwrapping their school photos, some for the first time ever, today. That's because Nicole Bozickovich, an art teacher at the the school, photographed all 150 inner city students for free with the help of the Cleveland Institute of Art.
Since Bozickovich started working at the school two years ago, she has noticed that the school offers pictures to students at a cost of around $50.
"Not all families can afford this, so last year, only a few kids actually got pictures," Bozickovich says.
So Bozickovich reached out to her alma mater, the CIA, asking to borrow photography equipment to take the pictures of the children. Instead, Professor Nancy McEntee, chair of the Photography and Video Department, sent the equipment and four students who were willing to photograph Bozickovich's students for free.
"I didn't realize how strong my relationship with the CIA really was until this happened— Professor McEntee put a lot of trust in me. If it wasn't for the institute, this wouldn't have happened," Bozickovich says.
Bozickovich, who says she's inspired by LeBron James' community service, sent a letter to parents explaining how picture day was going to be different this year, clarifying that it was absolutely free, to which one parent responded, "You have no idea how much this is helping me, especially with Christmas right around the corner."
Bozickovich ensured that all staff members got their photos taken too, because she is working to finally get staff IDs.
To Bozickovich, these aren't just photos the kids will look back at in 15 years, laughing at their outfit or smile; instead, these pictures represent empowerment and confidence. "I think the photos are important because it gives them a value. It shows that they are important enough to be photographed," Bozickovich says.
Bozickovich and the CIA volunteers plan to print one 8x10, two 5x7, and four wallet-size prints for each student using supplies donated by the CIA’s Photography and Video Department. She hopes to stretch her efforts to other local charter schools' by forming a new nonprofit that will fund more photo shoots.