Little did I know that when I attended the 1995 MACUL Conference in Detroit and sat in on the News Broadcasting session that it would change my job description forever.
As the Media Specialist at Hampton Elementary in Rochester, I couldn’t wait to get back and start developing daily news broadcasts at our own school. Hampton was the first school in Rochester to use the video distribution system to produce its own show. Students from Adams High School were eager to come and train our students to use the equipment, and the students learned quickly. They researched events, conducted interviews, wrote stories, manned the studio, and produced quality shows on a daily basis. It was the beginning of a district trend.
Now in my job as Media Specialist at Van Hoosen Middle School we have a special homeroom solely devoted to producing the school newscast. Students apply to be a part of the next year’s “crew” in 6th and 7th grade. They have to submit an application complete with teacher recommendations; their grades, attendance records and citizenship marks are also considered. Each year we have about 60-75 applicants for 30 positions, so the competition is fierce! The students do not have a video production class, so they need to be able to learn on the job and prepare a show in the 20 minutes before each broadcast. Being chosen for the news crew homeroom is an honor at VH!
SVN: Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
CK: I have been a media specialist at the elementary level and middle school level for 17 years. After attending a MACUL conference in 1995 I jumped right in to developing a morning news show. My principal, a teacher and myself began the first use of the video broadcast system in our school district with Hampton News Network. Since then, all of the schools now broadcast in some fashion. Now at the middle school we have the homeroom for Van Hoosen Today and I also help teach the multimedia classes, as well as, the job I was hired for – media specialist.
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
CK: The funding for the equipment came from a district bond issue. I have a technology budget, money from selling birthday announcements, and money I raise in a book fair.
SVN: Did you have equipment available?
CK: 2 cameras, 3 monitors, switcher (Focus MX-4 DV), sound board (Mackie DFX-12), 3 lavalier mics, 1 handheld mic, imac, pc, still cameras, dvd/vcr.
SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
CK: We do not have a TV/Video production class at the Middle School
SVN: How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
CK: We have a special homeroom for our morning news show. There are 32 7th and 8th grade students in the homeroom.
SVN: What jobs do the kids do? Do the kids rotate through on-air talent and crew positions or are they “hired” for a specific task?
CK: Students can apply for both technical and on-air jobs. Technical jobs include camera, sound board, video switcher, and computer titles. On-air talent includes anchors, weather reporters, pledge and special announcements. Of course, we also have a director and assistant director to be sure the production runs smoothly. One of our innovations is that we sell birthday announcements every morning for $1 each, so we also need a person to handle those sales as well as a “runner” to get the announcements to the VH Today news room. We rotate the jobs every marking period, and each student has 2-4 jobs per week.
SVN: Do students audition for on-air positions?
CK: The anchors have to audition for their positions, but even those who don’t make anchor have the opportunity to be on the air with the special features.
SVN: Do they write the content?
CK: Some of the content, such as sports reports are written by the students. Most of the content is done by staff and student council.
SVN: How long does the show run?
We have a 5 minute time limit, although sometimes we do stretch it 7 minutes.
SVN: Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills and SchoolTube TV?
CK: I have submitted video projects to different contests for the multimedia class but not for the morning news show.
SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
CK: It can be viewed via the wan in the district but we don’t – we keep it internal. Haven’t thought about putting it on the website….
SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
CK: 2 cameras, 3 monitors, switcher (Focus MX-4 DV), sound board (Mackie DFX-12), 3 lavalier mics, 1 handheld mic, imac, pc, still cameras, dvd/vcr
Parent volunteer – Bill Everson built the anchor desks and the control desk for the equipment.
SVN: Have any quick start tips!
CK: Have students fill out an application and have an interview – they take it more serious.
Allow them to have input in the show and the process. I let them request jobs each marking period.
Get to know their strengths and teach them how to fix issues that arise.
Feed them – (ed. note: This is important!) I bring a Friday treat every week as a thank you for the work they have volunteered to do.
So that’s the story of my journey from the 1995 MACUL Conference to the Van Hoosen Today newsroom, and I’m glad my job evolved to include a news broadcast. Although I only have the students for 20 minutes every morning, I have to say it is, without a doubt, my favorite part of the day.