Teresa Chavis Brings Lessons From FIDMs Signature Summer Program Back To Her Classroom
From the moment you enter Teresa Chavis’s classroom at T.C. Williams High School in Virginia, it is obvious she not only has a passion for fashion, but truly loves her job. The walls are covered with colorful couture photographs, famous quotes from top designers, and fashion illustrations from her students. Her personality lights up a room. She takes pride in her role as mentor and gives every student her undivided attention.
Chavis is a longtime supporter of FIDM, and after visiting our LA campus in 2018 she immediately felt a connection to our programs. It’s hard to miss the FIDM posters and pennants proudly displayed around her classroom.
When asked to describe her overall reaction to seeing the campus for the first time in person, without hesitation she said, “FIDM feels like my second home!” For now, home is on the other side of the country where she has taught Marketing at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA for the past 14 years. She currently teaches Intro to Fashion Careers, Fashion Marketing, as well as Advanced Fashion Marketing, and has always welcomed FIDM visits to her classes each year. Never one to shy away from new opportunities, Chavis also acts as DECA Advisor and FIDM Fashion Club Advisor, and serves on the board of the Virginia Association for Marketing Educators (VAME).
Knowing that many of her students would not have the opportunity to attend FIDM’s Signature Summer program, she decided to participate so she could bring the experience back to her classroom—to see things from a fresh perspective and add new ideas and activities to her curriculum. She shared with her students the FIDM course materials she received, including handouts and projects.
She was able to incorporate real data for her lessons on product development, illustrations of a fashion pyramid, and create a workshop on denim. She had her students bring in a pair of jeans so that she could re-create the denim distressing activity she learned at FIDM. With the supervised use of X-Acto knives and scissors, each student had a chance to create a unique denim creation that was on trend and also made use of recycled materials. Many students were delighted to discover that they could create their own ripped up jeans at a fraction of the price they were paying for pre-ripped jeans at the mall.
One of the highlights of her time on campus was getting to meet industry legend Nancy Riegelman. Chavis said, “The best part was having a class with [her] and learning more about fashion illustration.” Many of Chavis’ students are intimidated by fashion illustration, especially if drawing doesn’t come easily to them.
Teresa created a red carpet themed project designed to ease concerns over drawing, and focus on ideas first. She had each student create a mood board for fall and spring trends, then create an original concept for the red carpet. The students were tasked with creating an original look for their favorite celebrity, an engaging project that allows students to focus on their creativity before focusing on the illustration itself.
One of her favorite class projects is having her students create their own fashion vocabulary book. Rather than having them just write down words in a notebook, she tasks them to search for the assigned words in magazines. Each quarter, they have to find 25 fashion vocabulary words in magazines, then create an image based book that shows an example of the word and its meaning. At the end of the year, each student has a colorful book with 100 words defined.
Teresa has acted as the FIDM Fashion Club Advisor for the past 10 years, producing state of the art fashion shows full of glamour and artistry that celebrates local businesses and student designers. She is most proud of the charitable work that her club has been a part of, including their sock drive to aid local shelters. “Our fashion students have always wanted to know how they can help their community, and the Alexandria Police Department is very grateful for our assistance,” she said.
This year, before schools closed in March due to Covid-19, she hosted a tie dye workshop and a DIY belt making class for her fashion classes, sponsored by their FIDM Fashion Club. While her high school campus was closed for the remainder of the school year, Chavis quickly adapted to this new normal. She is eager to explore virtual opportunities for her students, introducing real-time projects, hosting virtual FIDM Fashion Club meetings, and having frequent video chats with her students, in order to stay connected.