MSA Welcomes New Faculty

MSA students in both Creative Writing and Digital Arts and Photography will have new opportunities with the addition of new faculty to their respective programs—both Laura Caldwell and Howard Gersh have already delivered exciting new ideas and tools to program’s curricula.

Laura CaldwellLaura Caldwell: Creative Writing

Laura longed to expand the creative writing unit she taught in regular English classes; she even wrote a creative writing curriculum but was never able to integrate it into her classes — until now. As the new MSA Creative Writing teacher she is excited to bring new ideas and tools to her students in the program.

In her first week on campus, Laura used remaining Creative Writing funding from last year’s MSA Foundation budget to buy new Chrome Books for student use. With these invaluable tools, made possible by the MSAF Family Giving Campaign, students will now be able to blog their work and share their talents with the community at-large. Students will be able start a Creative Writing newsletter where they can post new excerpts, haikus, poetry and more.

Laura came to teaching later in life. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Ohio Wesleyan University, she started out working in New York City’s bustling financial field and then chose to stay home to raise her two daughters. During that time she decided to go back to school and earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She became an artist in residence and taught poetry workshops in New York public schools. When she moved to California she decided to become a full-time classroom teacher and earned her teaching credential in English from Dominican University.

She has experience teaching middle and high school levels, with past positions at Poly Prep Country Day in Brooklyn, NY, and Drake High School and San Domenico School in San Anselmo.

Howard Gersh_headshotHoward Gersh: Digital Arts & Photography

Howard comes to MSA with an incredible background as a digital artist and animator working on major film projects. He has taught and designed curricula for the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Along with continued and growing excellence within the existing program, Howard plans to build a new MSA animation program with his students.

With work appearing in over two dozen major motion pictures, including the Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter franchises, Howard most recently worked at ImageMovers Digital (a Disney Company). There he lit and composited on the CG feature, “Mars Needs Moms!” He was previously part of the lighting team responsible for the exquisitely rendered Victorian London in Disney’s “A Christmas Carol.”

At George Lucas’ visual effects division, Industrial Light + Magic (ILM), Howard wore many hats. From compositing the Viet Nam war memorial crowd scenes in the Academy Award™-winning “Forrest Gump” to more recently lighting the photorealistic Davy Jones character and his crew of computer generated pirates in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Howard helped to create some of the most memorable and fantastic images ever to grace the silver screen.

Exhibits of Howard’s personal artwork have appeared at the Museum of American Illustration in New York City, at various art shows throughout San Francisco and has been published in leading illustration annuals. He has created artwork for private, corporate and nonprofit clients.

Howard earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of California at Irvine. He also studied art and design, as well as animation, film and video production.  Howard currently resides in Novato with his wife and their three boys. Find out more about Howard’s background at

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