MAPS Free Media Classes Starting Sept. 26

MAPS Media Institute, going into their 19th year, is excited to open their doors for afterschool classes starting on Sept. 26.

MAPS staff serve as a resource for processing huge amounts media content information. Young people are bombarded by media content through multiple forms of technology daily. The access to real-time information has never been greater and the impact on developing minds has remained a hot topic of youth-focused programs, educators, parents and guardians across the globe.

MAPS Executive Director Clare Ann Harff, said the Montana nonprofit MAPS Media Institute tackles this question in every free media arts class they teach.

“MAPS classes are structured in ways which challenge youth’s understanding of the power of the stories they tell through every kind of media they access. Media is an ever-evolving primary driver on how we communicate, create and interact,” Harff said. “By offering professional media arts educational opportunities, MAPS goal is for students to deepen their understanding in these varied mediums and to support them to confidently function in the workplace, college, careers, and life.”

Through MAPS professional media arts instructors, students learn about the importance, and power of the messages they view and share. They learn about the technology used to create the media they interact with (drone building, programming, video game design, graphic design, video creation), how messages are created, who they are created for, why they are created, and how those messages can impact them, their community, and society overall.

As instructors encourage MAPS students, called MAPSters, to think more deeply about the role they play in the media they use, they often see “ah ha” moments as students begin to glimpse the bigger picture that is the world around them. Often this is when students start to understand that they have a unique voice and that their voice has power. These moments translate into stories that don’t discount Tik Tok dances or selfies posted to Instagram but change the way students think as they produce and absorb quick content.

Harff believes this awakening has many benefits.

“Having access to quality media arts education provides many things for today’s youth,” she said. “It empowers students to learn how to effectively communicate and form their own style of creative inquiry while also connecting with other disciplines. It encourages students to research, design, and present ideas in new informed ways.”

Getting MAPSters to the point of media understanding is just one part of the equation. Once students understand the potential impact of the stories they tell, MAPS teaches them how to tell those stories using industry-level equipment.

MAPS Program Director Cove Jasmin said it is important to bring MAPSters into the world of professional media arts.

“Putting next-level gear, such as industry-level filmmaking equipment, professional design/editing software, and studio-level music production equipment in a student’s hand is something many young people never get to experience,” Jasmin said. “We create access to this kind of experience at MAPS through a wide variety of free media arts classes. This access creates opportunity. The moment a student sets down their phone and steps onto a film set or creates music through technology, the way they view the media changes forever.”

Going into their 19th year, MAPS Media Institute is excited to open their doors for afterschool classes starting on Sept. 26.

MAPS Communications and Marketing Director Janna Williams said the programming brings excitement.

“When MAPS classes start there is always a creative buzz in the air,” Williams said. “Even though I don’t know what stories our MAPSters will tell, I know they will be representative of their individual voices. Those are the stories I can’t wait to hear and share.”

The 2022 – 2023 school year offers three separate sessions filled with opportunities for 8th to 12th graders to create in film, music, design and new technologies. All of these classes support greater media understanding while offering students the chance to work with professional instructors, learn new skills, create more than ever before, and analyze the way they interact with media.

MAPS Film Instructor Dillon Jenkins, who has worked with MAPS on projects across Montana, said he is looking forward to the startup and collaboration.

“Having taught MAPS workshops in the past, I am excited to get into the classroom with new and returning faces this fall,” he said. “Walking students through the process of creating a film, from idea to screening, is an invaluable experience for them and for me. I can’t help learning through them as I watch them build community with each other and the world around them. This kind of connection makes for some pretty incredible stories.”

MAPS Media Institute classes are always free-of-charge for 8th to 12th grade students. Every class is structured to support and welcome all abilities, and students may enroll at any time.

The MAPS Hamilton Studio is located at 515 Madison Street in Hamilton and is open to students from 3 to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

For more information about MAPS, and to enroll, visit, call 406-381-7230, or email Cove Jasmin at

Read this article on the Ravalli Republic Website