In the immortal words of Alice Cooper “SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER!!”
It’s all over. As of the 24th of May, the 2018-2019 school year was over for me. Graduation began at 8 pm and was over by 10 pm. It’s all over… So what’s next? Reflection and Preparation. What a year. Over 120 live sporting events. Over 120 newscasts. Hundreds of hours in the classroom. Hundreds of miles on the car. But it was all worth it when we got to place the first foundation stone.
I am a huge fan of tradition. I love it. I think we need more good solid traditions. Many of my video and journalism colleagues have a tradition of painting a hand and placing it on the wall and having the student sign it. If you remember, we have a new school and a superintendent who has never been one for paint or permanent wall placements. I had to punt. I talked with someone who suggested getting plexiglass and doing it that way. I liked the idea and was going to run with it but I went to Walmart. While I was there, I say a package of self-adhesive floor tiles and came up with a great idea. While not using the adhesive (command strips worked great), I would have the student paint their hand and place it on the tile, sign the tile, etc.
The great thing about this year is that I only had One senior who was a pathway completer (3 years in the program). He was also “that kid.” He was the one that went above and beyond and was great on camera and in the classroom. I actually told him, his mother, and the administration that I was trying to find a way to sabotage his credits so he would have to stay at least One more year with me. (I could not find a way) Having this guy as the only senior and the first was great because I was able to celebrate him a little more. I told the students about cornerstones. I drew the parallel to the cornerstone being used as the guide for the rest of the building or in this case, the rest of the program.
Speaking of the cornerstone of the foundation, a couple of weeks ago we were announced as the NFHS Network’s Best New Program for 2019. This really fired the students up. They were more excited than I have seen them in a while. I used this to try to teach them to push through the crap that gets in the way. I reminded them of the days we were having “passionate exchanges” or when they wanted to quit. As a teacher, you should submit for contests on behalf of your students. You don’t always have to let them know. I didn’t tell my crew about this submission until we were announced as finalists. They were excited when we just talked about being in the top 3 but never thought we would “actually win it, I mean it’s a national award.” I told them that they have to think bigger than Madison and realize that everything you do matters to someone.
Earlier this year I wrote about the teaching moments based on our basketball players amazing dunk. (TL;DR: He is 5’6’’ and dunked in a game) The only video of that dunk was our broadcast and it went viral-ish (250,000 or so total views). That video was named the NFHS Network 2019 Highlight of the Year. This was a bigger deal to me than the new program award because of the sheer number of schools who are on the network and the number of games they all shoot. To have the “best” highlight out of all of that footage is a huge deal.
On the heels of our awards came graduation. I hate filming graduation. Not for the reasons you think instead, it’s the same reason I run from people who are getting married. Let me start by saying that I no longer do anything like sell dvds or any of that with graduation because it is too much work for the money. I also have never had someone not complain about our graduation coverage. Nothing crazy but enough that I just don’t fool with it anymore. I also hate filming graduation because I hate my students to see me fight back tears. There are so many stories that walk across the graduation stage that I always get overwhelmed thinking about what some of those kids have already overcome or worse I think about those kids that I don’t know have ever had to overcome anything.
Now that school is over. I take some time to myself. Last week at the conclusion of post planning. I attended the Sports Video Group’s College Summit in Atlanta. I love this event. I feel like I am drinking through a firehose. It’s great to just go and absorb lessons from those who are in a higher position. I mean let’s be honest, if I could run ½ the program they have at any of the Power 5 universities, I would be a legend. But if I take One idea that I can make work for my school of less than 1,000 then I am doing something great! I spend some time with vendors seeing what works or what won’t for a high school program. I spent some time with the folks from Teradek, Sportzcast, and BlackMagic Design. It’s always interesting to see what they bring to shows like this. It’s like a peek into the future. A peek into what in the next 5 or so years will probably come down in price enough for us to afford it.
Next month, I turn in my “New Kid Pass” and start gearing up for next year with a ton of thank yous!
Tom White is the digital media instructor at Morgan County High School in Madison, GA. Currently teaching TV production and animation pathways, Tom's programs have received state and national honors including the 2016 NFHS Network School Broadcast Program Of The Year.
Prior to teaching, Tom was a marketing, promotions, and online content director for a major radio corporation in Atlanta. Tom studied exercise science at High Point University prior to his radio career. Despite his winding career path, his mother still thinks he is special.