Georgia Mayo and her team from the Dr. John Horn High School in Mesquite, Texas recently competed in the BPA (Business Professionals of America) (see the story by Caylea Hammers by clicking here) Broadcast News competition in Chicago.  We were so impressed with their work that we had to find out how they do it.  Here is what we discovered:

SVN: Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?JH06

GM: I currently teach at Dr. John Horn High School in Mesquite, Texas. I have a Business Degree from the University of North Texas in Computer Education and Cognitive Systems. I started teaching BCIS, teaching students Microsoft Office along with proper typing techniques. After a few years teaching in this field, my department head told me that I was going to leave this area and start teaching in a Mac lab. I was knowledgeable about the programs offered in this lab, however I had never taught in one. I decided to start teaching broadcasting after visiting with a few other teachers from the local feeder schools. They were teaching elementary and middle school and mentioned that their students did live morning announcements on the TV. I went to my principal and proposed an idea to have a school news program. John Horn Campus News (JHCN) was created and we have done some amazing things throughout the year.

SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?

GM: The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technology Education (CTE) program funds the class and provides the Audio/Video equipment needed to produce a great show.

SVN: Did you have equipment available?

GM: We started with Z200 cameras; we used I-Movie to log and capture. The audio was terrible, the color on the packages was off and the shots were a work in progress. After several years of proving this was class act production, the students now have industry standard cameras and audio equipment to help with their video projects. CTE has been very supportive of this program.

SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?

JH01GM: I have up to 15 students in the class; I have the students for two classes (2nd and 3rd periods). I work very closely with my register in order to have the classes set up so the students have the proper amount of time in the class. The class is broken down into A/V 1 and A/V 2. This allows having returning students in the program each year.

SVN: Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?

GM: The classes are 90 minutes each, however if I have the students for 2 classes I will have them for roughly 3 hours a day. With 15 students in the class we are able to film off campus if we need to depending on the video package. With this time we sit together the first 30 minutes of class and talk about the show allowing interaction with the students that are working on various packages for football, ROTC, and Fine Arts. The students give advice to one another, solve problems on audio issues and go over all graphics for the show. We write down a run down for the show (this is written on the JHCN board) so this is something the students can reference – starting with the intro all the way through the outro.

SVN: How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?

GM: JHCN Live has 2 anchors, camera operator and a director to call the show. JHCN has a show that we produce at the local TV station. There is a Director, 6 on-JH02air talents, 3 camera operators, Teleprompter operator, sound operator, and a student that runs the VTR. JHCN is broken down in sections of Clubs and Organizations, Campus Entertainment, Sports and Jag Spot. The students come together 2 weeks before the air date and we go over the stories that they want to film and edit.

SVN: Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical Performances?

GM: JHCN students work closely with the fine arts department filming the schools musicals and singing events. The students also film various sporting events and work closely with the local MISD electronic media department on school and District projects.

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?

GM: JHCN holds auditions for the talent positions, students sign up for the talent they would like to read for on air. I set the room up like the studio and have the talents stand/sit in the specific spot for Clubs and Organizations, Campus Entertainment, Sports, and Jag Spot. I then have the students read a script. I look for on air presence and listen for annunciation and most of all passion for the program.

SVN: Do students audition for on-air positions?

GM: Student’s audition for on-air positions, sometimes a student on campus wants to be part of the program however they cannot fit the class into their schedule. This allows for students on campus to be involved with the show even if they are not in the class.

JH03SVN: Do they write the content?

GM: The talent comes to meetings that we have after school to go over the stories that we want to highlight on JHCN. They are required to make contact with the students that are producing the video packages and work closely with them to make sure the script matches the story. I have a student that finalizes the script and then I take over to check for any last minute changes.

SVN: How long does the show run?

GM: JHCN Live announcements runs from anywhere to 6-7 minutes, this depends on the announcements that were submitted to the front office. John Horn Campus News, when we will film at the studio, lasts around 15-17 minutes.

SVN: Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills and SchoolTube TV?

GM: The students are part of a Business Professionals of America, an organization for Business students. We have been very successful in the past few years winning at the national level in Video Production, Computer Animation, Graphic Design and Broadcasting. My students have traveled to Anaheim, Washington DC and Chicago.

GM: We also compete in local contests with YouTube, schooltube and contests within our district.

SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?

GM: When we broadcast live announcements we go through the school’s local channel. This allows us to connect to one channel and broadcast to all JH04classrooms. When we do the studio show we go live to tape. Then take the show back to campus and air the next day.

SVN: Where do you post programming? YouTube? Vimeo? SchoolTube? SVN-TV? Other?

GM: We have several sites that we upload to:

SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?

SVN: Have any quick start tips!

GM: When I first started this program, I was out of my element. However I wanted my students to have this wonderful opportunity. I found a way of doing this with my program. John Horn Campus News gave a voice to my campus and our school district.

Students- Audio seems to be a huge issue when filming, make sure that you are familiar with your camera and the audio settings. When interviewing a person ask them to spell their name, this allows you to check audio and when you get back to create a name bar you will have the spelling of their name right from the person.