NATAS Student Production Awards Reflections

Allowing students to participate in such a public platform of recognition is simply amazing.

Having received four Emmy nominations and having had the pleasure to walk the stage to receive one was certainly a highlight of my journalism career. However, the source of pride and glow I had attending the 2014 Ohio Valley NATAS Awards not as a recipient, but a teacher, topped all the other ceremonies. For the second year in a row one of my students, Lainey Geddes, was recognized with a first place Student Production Award. Her public service announcement, They’re More Than Just Words, takes a brutally honest and disturbing look at the impact bullying can have on some teenagers. Another student, Tanner Fisher, received an honorable mention for his documentary, Let Go. Tanner’s documentary explores the friendship that is shared through long boarding. The film opens with the dictionary definition of long boarding, but viewers quickly learn this is more than just a sport. Long boarding is a way for Tanner and his friends to let go of all the stresses of teenage life and share a bond with one another.

I encourage my students to use their storytelling as an outlet to be honest and make connections with viewers. They are succeeding and my pride for them in the classroom hasRauch-350 been immense during my last three years teaching at Eastside Technical Center in Lexington, KY. Attending the Emmy awards in August was something else. Being there as the teacher behind these two talented students was a source of pride unlike none other. It’s one thing to have students share their work with one another in class and their friends who visit our class Youtube page. But to receive such recognition on such a public platform as the Emmy’s, in front of the region’s most talented journalists is an opportunity very few students can say they were privileged to be a part of.

Attending a lavish ceremony like the Emmys has the potential to be intimidating for a high school student. This was not. The welcome mat was out to create a more than inviting, inclusive experience for the students. An entire area of the lobby was dedicated to the students as School Video News interviewed the attendees. I had a fleeting fear Mr. Fisher may have found me to be like “one of those parents” snapping photos in the background as he was now the one in front of the camera being interviewed about his winning piece of work. I couldn’t help myself. This was a moment worth preserving.

The news industry has certainly changed since I entered it more than twenty years ago. Technology has allowed more access to more people to be storytellers. With more opportunities to be seen and heard comes more competition than ever before. I applaud Ohio Valley NATAS and School Video News for recognizing the students who are showing real talent at such a young age. Allowing them to participate in such a public platform of recognition is simply amazing. As teachers across the country work hard to prepare our students to succeed in both college and career paths, support like this is immeasurable in helping students achieve their goals. I encourage those who are still in broadcasting to take the time to look at the work the next generation of storytellers are producing. They have such an honest approach that is refreshing to see. It gives me hope to stay tuned and see what’s next.