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PREP-KC Designer-in-Residence

Posted: 11/19/2019

Three South Kansas City school districts (Center, Grandview, and Hickman Mills) are working together on a search for a first-ever “Designer-in-Residence” to help design and launch Pathways to Design. This will be a capstone program offering high school students interested in design thinking skills and digital marketing careers a unique and specialized curriculum not available until now. In addition to the program, students will be able to earn Adobe Certified Associate credentials that are valued in the design fields, and will also have the opportunity to work on authentic client projects. The search is underway, coordinated by PREP-KC, and recruitment for students will begin soon for an August 2020 launch.

“Design thinking and creative problem solving will be some of the most important skills of a modern workforce, so we are excited to assist with such an important initiative,” said Susan Wally, CEO of PREP-KC. The “Designer-in-Residence” will help build a shared program that blends client projects, instruction on the technical skills needed for employer-valued certification, and frequent interaction with design and marketing professionals. Culminating activities for this course will include presentation and exhibition of client projects and sitting for Adobe Certification Examinations.

“We are currently assisting these partner-districts to hire and share their first-ever Designer-in-Residence, a position that will work with teachers, administrators, and the business community to help design and launch Pathways to Design. This is an amazing opportunity for a design professional to give students access and exposure to not only important industries but important transferrable skills like creative problem-solving, design thinking, and entrepreneurial thinking,” added Wally.

By working together to design and launch this pilot, these three school districts will be able to make more effective use of resources and work more effectively with industry partners to prepare students for the workplace of the future. Pathways to Design is being supported by the Kauffman Foundation’s Real World Learning Initiative and will be guided through a strategic partnership with PREP-KC. 

PREP-KC was founded in 2005 as Kansas City’s leading urban education intermediary. Its’ mission is to increase college-readiness and access to high-quality employment for nearly 50,000 mostly low-income students served by six of Kansas City’s bi-state urban school districts and four charter schools.  PREP-KC works with urban school districts to ensure many more students receive intensive postsecondary preparation that integrates a stackable set of college courses, career-readiness credentials/certificates, and project-based experiences into the high school course-of-study.  The student experience is customized based on their college and career goals. PREP-KC assists students to earn Market Value Assets (MVAs), which are defined as industry-valued skills acquired in high school that create a more seamless transition from school to postsecondary education and/or the workplace. These student experiences provide opportunities for real-world problem-solving, as well as communication and collaboration with people beyond the school walls, and are essential drivers of MVAs.

The Key Responsibilities of the full-time Designer-in-Residence:

  • Partnering with the teachers, administrators, and business partners to design, plan, and prepare for the launch of Pathways to Design, providing industry expertise and first-hand experience the planning team will need to access as they develop an authentic, industry-informed experience for students. 

  • Developing the Pathways to Design Curriculum- the Designer-in-Residence will lead the design and development of Pathways to Design curriculum during the 2019-2020 school year.  This curriculum will use authentic design industry challenges and projects to meet the curricular objectives of preparing students to pass the Adobe Certified Associate certification examinations, build up the skill sets needed to successfully complete extended client projects (including client presentation and related business skills) and internships, and develop a portfolio that will assist them in pursuing postsecondary education and employment in the design field. The Designer-in-Residence will work closely with the planning team (administrators, design teachers, PREP-KC staff, and business partners) through this curriculum design work, and will also play a key role in determining the space, equipment, and logistical supports needed for a successful implementation.

  • Building the Capacity of High School Design Teachers­- throughout the 2019-2020 Design & Plan year, the Designer-in-Residence will lead ongoing professional development and industry mentoring for each of the design teachers working at the participating high schools.  This professional development will include helping all teachers pass the Adobe Certified Associate exams during the Design & Plan year, completing contemporary industry design challenges, and developing a deep understanding of the workflow process in the design field.  Through ongoing coaching, the Designer-in-Residence will work with each design teacher to discuss how to embed instructional activities and student projects into classrooms that simulate the industry conditions and expectations the teachers learn about during the Design & Plan year. 

  • Technical Liaison for Industry Partnerships- the Designer-in-Residence will work closely with the PREP-KC team as a technical advisor that helps inform the recruitment of industry partners, and help connect those partners to the Pathways to Design program effectively and efficiently.  While PREP-KC staff will take the lead on the logistics of managing industry partnerships, the Designer-in-Residence will engage with their peers from the design industry to create the curriculum and content for industry integration into the program.  Specifically, this curriculum will include design industry-specific plans for industry chats, worksite visits, mentoring and advisement, and client projects.  This design-specific content will be an essential building block to the meaningful integration of design professionals once the Pathways to Design program has launched.

Position Terms and Requirements

  • Reports to Career Academies Coordinator and works collaboratively with K-12, industry, and higher education partners.

  • Position Terms: Full-time, limited 3-year term, position with an opportunity for renewal. May require occasional regional and national business travel.

  • At least five years of experience working in the design field with a postsecondary degree in graphic design or a related field preferred.

  • Expert knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite and other key industry tools.

  • Passion for mentoring and guiding young people interested in creative professions.

  • Interest in collaborating with a diverse team of educators, industry, and higher education professionals.

  • Willingness to engage their peers and professional network for insight and feedback during the design and implementation processes.

For more information or to apply, please send your resume and letter of interest to Danielle Binion, Career Academies Coordinator at For more information on PREP-KC, please visit

Job Type: Full Time