In this alumni spotlight, meet Jordan Barger, Class of 2018!
How long were you at Post Oak?
Where are you now?
I am majoring in film and television at the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA. I am currently studying abroad in Paris, France, through the University of California Education Abroad Program.
What are some of your most vivid memories of Post Oak?
I have many vivid memories from Post Oak. My most prominent are from how different of an education I received than almost anybody else in the world. I am constantly reminded of how fortunate I am when I talk to my friends who did not go here. From the close student-teacher relationships to the class sizes to the world travel to the community meetings, schoolwide events, internships, location in the museum district, J and A-Terms, and material I learned, I am always remembering my time at Post Oak and how much it has shaped me into the person I am today and the interests and abilities I have.
Talk about your transition from high school to college. What was it like starting your new journey at UCLA?
I expected my transition to UCLA to be harder than it actually was. Having gone to small Montessori schools my whole childhood, I thought going to a school with 6,000 people in my class was going to be, to say the least, difficult. I will admit that having 300+ students in a lecture versus 15 is a very dramatic change, although it was not as complex as I thought it was going to be. I learned to adapt quite quickly and even enjoyed the new challenge of learning how to learn in such an environment. I did find comfort in my fellow film and television first years—UCLA only has 90 undergraduate film and television majors, so the 16 of the class of 2022 have grown to become a sort of family.
The most challenging aspect of my transition was discovering how to make friends in such a large public university, where it seems like everyone has their own impenetrable group of friends. Granted, all freshmen are looking for friends; however, because I had only gone to such small schools, where everyone is friends with everyone, I also had to learn how to make friends. I had to put myself out there in ways I never had before and join clubs and study in public, etc. These things were good for me to learn, though, and I progress every year.
What’s been one of your favorite experiences at UCLA or while studying abroad?
One of my favorite experiences at UCLA was in the spring quarter of 2019, when my film was selected to be produced. One of the film clubs I am in at UCLA, Film & Photography Society, accepts screenplay submissions each quarter and then selects three films to be produced. I co-wrote a short film with a fellow first-year film and television major; it was our first time to submit a piece to this club, although it was not our first time to work together since we created a film in the fall. Luckily enough, our screenplay was one of the three selected, and we were able to co-direct it. I have never had such a big crew before and got to delve deep into all the processes of filmmaking. It was an amazing experience and felt like the culmination of all my hard work so far.
My friend, Anali, and I are currently editing the film and hope for it to be released before the end of the year.
How did your experiences at Post Oak (internships, travel, studies) help prepare you for college?
The way things are taught at Post Oak helped prepare me for college because it aided me in being ahead of the game when it comes to studies. Two examples that come to mind are essays and seminars. I was taught how to write an essay every year at Post Oak, and we were always writing essays. In fact, I wrote an essay in every class—yes, even math and physics. I was able to get an A on my first essay in college—where we were not taught how to write an essay before it was due—and continue to thrive in that area, thanks to Post Oak’s insistence on writing.
Additionally, I have yet to find a class that does seminars better than at Post Oak—and I have now taken 15 classes. Seminars taught me how to voice my thoughts, but more importantly, how to listen to others, even when I do not agree with what they have to say. This ability—which feels like a superpower nowadays—has enabled me to stand out in my discussion classes, and thus, thrive at the university level.
What passions and interests did you pursue at Post Oak that you still pursue now? How did being at Post Oak help further your pursuit of these interests?
I pursued my passion for filmmaking at Post Oak and am currently majoring in it at one of the best film schools in the United States. During my time at Post Oak I was able to take a filmmaking J-Term, conduct an editing internship—that eventually became a part-time job—at a local communications company, perform a solitary exploration, enroll in an online class, join a class at a neighboring school, film a documentary in Nicaragua, and even eventually take Post Oak's first and very own IB film class.
Post Oak, being the Montessori school that it is, enabled me to pursue my interest because it was what I wanted to learn. I took the initiative, but without the opportunity Post Oak gave me, I would not have seen one of my films on a theater screen for the first time, learned how to use a green screen, gained experience in a real-world setting and connections that eventually led to my first internship in Los Angeles, created a film that would go on to be showcased in three film festivals all over the United States, won my first award, learned how to use a RED camera, or encouraged other fellow students to pursue their interest in cinema.
Post Oak, in many ways, helped me further my pursuit of filmmaking. Mostly, it allowed me to be interested and curious about the ways I could integrate my passion into my everyday life and work, a lesson I will not soon forget.
How do you see your Montessori education showing up in your life today?
I see my Montessori education showing up most in my desire to learn. I love to learn and would go to school for the rest of my life if I could. I found it surprising when my friends at college did not have that same desire. Of course, they are allowed to pursue whatever it is that they enjoy; however, I have found that my passion for learning new things and aggregating knowledge has helped me in my classes and during discussions, and furthermore, has helped in the professional world, such as at internships. My hunger for knowledge and ability to go after it without needing a hand to hold—a truly Montessori idea—has aided both my journey in higher education and the film industry.
If you had to pass along words of wisdom to future Post Oak students, what would you tell them?
My words of wisdom are to take advantage of the opportunities you are given at Post Oak. Do things because you want to, and it is your life, not to look appealing on college applications. In high school, we get so caught up in trying to get into a good school that we forget to enjoy ourselves along the way. So, appreciate your time at Post Oak, and don’t just treat it as a stepping stone to your next stage in life. You will get into a good college, and you will be fine. Try to remember that as you are starting your journey at Post Oak, or any high school.