Photography teacher moonlights as artist and break dancer

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Photography teacher moonlights as artist and break dancer

Karyn Chambers, Brennan Guilds, and Cheyenne King

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Teachers sometimes struggle to maintain the illusion that they have absolutely no life outside of school, but this teacher’s life is leaking out at the seams and it is about to burst.

Photography teacher James Wu is the deluxe version of your normal teacher, and his life is probably more interesting than yours. When he is not working as a cashier at Home Depot, he is hosting the break dancing club at the intersection of C and E hallways on the bottom floor.

He has already been dancing for 11 years and learned because “I just really enjoy dancing… I also thought it would get me a girlfriend,” Wu said.  He has been teaching photography at Watkins Mill High School for six years now and hosting its break dancing club for six years.

While he has only taught photography at WMHS, Wu plans to “start teaching dance in DC.”

Wu’s students love learning from him because “He treats us like people, and not just students,” senior Tyesha Nelson said.  “He understands us and helps us out and is reasonable.”

But before he was at WMHS teaching photography and running the break dancing club, he was in a high school band. Not the marching band, but a five-person rock band named Morning Bell, where he played drums.

He was in the band for four years starting his freshman year and played just for fun. And though the members had hopes of going somewhere with their music, the band eventually fizzled out. As Wu said, “We like to think we were hardcore. But no, we weren’t.”

After his high school years, Wu went from Dupont Manual High School in his home state of Kentucky to the Maryland Institute College of Art, where he completed a five-year teaching program and chose to teach photography because it was the first teaching opportunity he had.

Wu’s passion for expressing himself artistically is evident to every student in his classes.  “Mr. Wu is very artistic, and he could go far in his break-dancing career,” senior Lawrence Kouadio said.

Aside from Wu’s talent for dancing and being an overall cool dude, he draws and has taken up printing as his overall favorite expression of art. 

He has been drawing for ten years and his love of art began to reveal itself in middle school. Or, as Wu said, “I’ve been drawing since the dawn of time.”

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