Multimedia extraordinaire Grover Massenburg to retire

Amelia Bergeron

Grover Massenburg spends his day in a computer-congested classroom teaching countless students to design apps and websites. Through his career, mentoring students has been a rewarding experience for Massenburg, but he plans to retire at the end of the school year.

Growing up in DC on Capitol Hill, Massenburg attended McKinley Technical High School, where he studied fine arts. This included drawing, painting, and some woodworking. After graduating high school, Massenburg attended American University, where he found a calling in the music business while working at a cabinet shop.

During his time at the shop, Massenburg was tasked with making speakers for a friend. The friend introduced Massenburg to Local 22, a labor union focused on the production of art. “He was a member of Local 22 at the time and that allowed me to go onto two major performances,” Massenburg explained. In Local 22, Massenburg became a union stagehand tasked with moving props and setting up for performances. This job has brought him to renowned places including the Kennedy Center and Warner Theater. 

As another side hobby, Massenburg is a photographer. He recently had a show at the DC Commission for the Arts featuring black landscape photographs. His experiences in the artistic field influenced his decision to attend the Corcoran School of the Arts and ultimately earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) in fine arts. 

Simultaneously, Massenburg began his career as a graphic design teacher, a track he did not initially choose for himself. “I started teaching at UDC. A couple of professors over there wanted me to teach because I knew the software at the time and it was all new to everybody. It wasn’t something I had decided to do on my own,” he said. 

Courtesy of Grover Massenburg

After teaching at UDC for a few years, former Wilson assistant principal Kenny Dickerson asked if he wanted to teach at Wilson. Teaching high school was a new experience, but rewarding nonetheless. “I enjoy sharing with students, I enjoy unlocking genius,” he said.

Last year, Massenburg introduced the digital design software Adobe XD to his classes. “My class was the first in DC to use that program… So you know, [my] students are getting the chance to do something nobody else is,” Massenburg explained. The program helped him and his classes stand out in DCPS because his Digital Media III classes pioneered the program. He plans to expand the usage to all of his classes this school year. The program is based on the concept of user experience and user interface (UX, UI), and he plans to have his students use it to create music apps and social media entertainment sites in the coming months. 

As this year marks Massenburg’s last year of teaching, he has started to make some plans for the future. After retiring, he wants to take some time off and then travel while photographing the world. He is also considering creating a visual design company. “I can just sit at home and folks send me the jobs and I do whatever I feel like doing,” he said.

Massenburg has enjoyed Wilson’s diversity. He described it as the “the United Nations of DCPS.” The diversity of the student body and the class choices remind him of his own high school experiences. “Wilson reminds me a lot of [Mckinley], by the different programs they offer, the diversity, all the students who out of zone came to McKinley the same way they’re coming here.” 

With all of his years of teaching, Massenburg wants to leave students with a word of advice. “Don’t waste time… because wasted time can never be recovered. Just take advantage of the opportunity because as you look back years from now, you’re going to realize the opportunity that Wilson provided.”