Filmmaker and leader: spotlight on Kadesha Bonds


Photo by Aidan Fogarty

Alex Metzger

Kadesha Bonds is Wilson’s resident filmmaker and entrepreneur. Bonds created Wilson’s mass media program from scratch and brings in plenty of awards for the program’s competitive side annually.

Born, as she puts it, a “Midwestern girl,” in Joplin, Missouri, Bonds graduated from the University of Central Missouri 50 miles away from Kansas City with a major in Broadcasting and Film Production and a minor in Theater and Performance.

Bonds went to UCM with the goal of becoming a broadcast journalist. There, she was particularly inspired by the professor of her Intro to Video and Production class. He advised her to delve into the field of mass media. She worked as a reporter and on-air talent for Pittsburg State University’s public radio station in Kansas, and in just a few short years she was promoted and became the executive producer for the nature section.

In 2005 her qualifications as a producer and filmmaker brought her to DC to pass on those skills at McKinley Tech as an audio production teacher. Due to new policies brought in by then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee, Bonds and multiple members of the non-core class faculty were laid off. Her friend who worked at the Career and Technical Engineering department of DCPS recommended that Bonds create a mass media program at Wilson.

Initially disappointed by the lack of computers and SSD cards for cameras, Bonds began building the program essentially from scratch. She created three levels of the year-long course, where she selects the best students in the beginner’s course to move up to the next level. The mass media department was soon thriving under her supervision. And as a result, she was recognized with the Teacher of the Year Award in 2014, her second year at Wilson.

Today, the courses are characterized by her rapid-fire speech and seemingly endless supply of energy. In her room, a sign to the right of the projector reads “Broadcast is a deadline business, NO late work, NO excuses.” As mass media alum Kastriot Gjoka put it, “She can love you to death but she’ll still give you the ‘F’ if you don’t do your work.” Gjoka has participated in three different mass media competitions for Wilson. During last year’s memorable competitive season, the program brought home awards for Best Short Film, Second Best Sports Action Edit, and Second Best Highlight Feature Edit.

These are just a few of the many awards that Bonds has led her students to during her time at Wilson. In Bonds’ career, the program has also been awarded three student Emmys.

Bonds explains that her motto, “We don’t work for free,” is the backbone of her level-III course, which deals with business management in the communications sector. Level III is the culmination of the level-I and level-II courses. Students have had their skills picked up by companies, colleges, and a multitude of programs.

Separated from the rest of the building the mass media room sits solely above the library covered from carpet to ceiling with wires, equipment, and the occasional broken tripod. A fearless teacher, a tireless educator, and genius filmmaker: Kadesha Bonds.