Class Descriptions

Student Project Samples



Leila teaches cartooning and animation as a visiting artist in Maryland public and private schools and community organizations. She is on the Maryland State Arts Council’s Artists-in-Residence Roster and on the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County’s Teaching Artists Roster and Artists and Scholars Roster for Community Programs. She also teaches at Glen Echo Park. Leila has presented her animation workshop at the Maryland Artist/Teacher Institute. Her classes have been supported by grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, The Washington Post Educational Foundation, and the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.

Through the creation of their own comic books and animated videos, students can bring any subject they are studying to life, gaining, in the process, a deeper understanding of that topic as they employ the techniques of professional cartoonists and animators. Students in Leila’s hands-on classes have created collaborative comic books and animated videos on a variety of themes, including the importance of recycling, the meaning of African adinkra symbols, the ethnic diversity of their school and the health benefits of walking. Students have also created and performed the musical and spoken soundtracks of their animated videos.

Leila furnishes her specialized animation equipment for her classes; the school provides a television monitor, DVD player and art supplies. These basic class descriptions can be customized to your school’s needs and time frame:

Jessica Robinson


As they create their own animated video, students will learn about the history, concepts and techniques of two-dimensional animation. Working individually and collaboratively, they will bring their drawings to life using early optical toys, drawing and scratching directly on film and videotaping their artwork. Music students will be encouraged to create a soundtrack for the video.


Students will design original characters and draw caricatures, one-panel cartoons and comic strips. They will explore and experiment with all the aspects of cartooning: figure and background drawing, perspective, lighting, lettering, composition, storytelling and dialogue. Using various pen-and-ink techniques, they will refine their cartoons from rough sketches into final artwork for a class comic book.

Kevin Opsahl

Take a look at some of Leila’s students’ projects:


Illuminated Meg Griner Jennifer Kora Jade Lee
AlexPope ElleryWeil Mel White
click on the images
to enlarge sample pages

This informative and entertaining graphic novel anthology on the 18th century Age of Enlightenment was created by students at Winston Churchill High School. Each student researched an aspect of the era and then wrote and illustrated a chapter of the comic book, which was sold at the school and at Big Planet Comics in Bethesda, Maryland.


Two Animated Poems: "Swing, Scat, Scamper" and "Sweet Dreams"

Animated Poems
  Animated Poems Doc
click to view two animated poems   click to view a clip of the documentary

Two poems written and narrated by students at Paint Branch High School are brought to life through the animations of their fellow students. The videos’ musical soundtracks are also performed by students. Filmmaker Cintia Cabib’s documentary, “Animated Poems,” shows the process behind this project.



May Animation
click to view video

Ancient Mayan art and myths come to life in this video produced by students at John Poole Middle School. Each student created an animated cycle depicting an episode in the adventures of the Mayan hero twins.


"Animated Self-Portraits"

Students at Paint Branch High School looked in the mirror and into themselves to draw these animated self-portraits, which express their personalities, hobbies and fantasies.
“Animated Self-Portraits” received a CINE Golden Eagle Award and was selected for screening at the Ottawa International Animation Festival.


To view more videos created in Leila's workshops, visit


The collaborative videos created by Leila’s students have been honored with five national CINE Golden Eagle Awards and numerous first-place awards at the Montgomery County Schools Media Festival. They have been screened at various international film festivals and aired on Maryland Public Television, Montgomery County Public Schools Instructional TV and Access Montgomery TV. For more information, read the articles below:

The Potomac Almanac: "Fifth Graders Create Animated Movie," February 26, 2014.  

MCPS Bulletin: "Student-Created Videos to Air on TV," November 16, 2010.

iCOM Magazine:"Animated Video Captures Paint Branch High School's Third Consecutive CINE Golden Eagle Award," January 2005.

The Washington Jewish Week:“School Project Morphs into Award-Winning Film,” April 15, 2004.

The Burtonsville Gazette:“Paint Branch High Students Take a Short ‘Walk’ to the Top,” January 28, 2004.

iCOM Magazine:“Paint Branch High School and Winston Churchill High School Win CINE Golden Eagle Awards for Animated Public Service Announcements,” January 2004.