magnolia crewTell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?

I have a bachelor’s degree in speech communications with a minor in psychology.  I started teaching at Magnolia High school in 1999.  I taught the state required speech course and debate.  I also ran the speech and debate team for 5 years.  A good friend of mine, who also taught speech, Kathrina Martin, put together a proposal to start a broadcast journalism class about 5 years ago.  She resigned due to personal issues about 2 ½ years ago and asked to take over the program.  I have a lot of respect for her and wanted to ensure the programs future and success.  I have a teaching certificate in speech and journalism, and I have done a lot of training for the video production portion of the class.

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

Initial funding was achieved from our very supportive school district.  We currently fund the program through generous support from our Technology director Rob Miller and district provided budgets.  We also do a lot of fundraising to help the kids attend various competitions, and training.


Did you have equipment available?

We started with a few cameras, tripods, a light kit, and basic PC’s with Pinnacle edition five and a classroom  As of this year we have moved up to 6 I Macs with Final Cut Studio, we have about 10 cameras, 5 Prosumer quality and 5 basic consumer grade.  We have several lights, mics, and more.  We have 2 classrooms one for editing and one which serves as a studio. We are slowly growing and expanding the program.

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

We have Broadcast Journalism 1,2,3 and 4.  Each class is a year lon gand they build upon each other.  In the past it was just for 10th-12th grades.  Next year Freshman will be allowed to take the course.  We currently have about 60 students involved in the program. I also have an editing lab period, which students can take for additional editing time.

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

The classes are about 55 minutes long and I have 4 broadcast classes, 1 speech class, a planning period, and an edit lab period for a total of a seven period day.  Each class has anywhere between 10-17 students in it.  Students do a wide variety of projects depending on the year they are in.  These projects include daily announcements, special Friday Shows, short 5-10 minute films, music videos, PSA’s, commercials, news stories, educational videos, projects for the district and many more.

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

We do daily announcements 5 days a week.  At the end of the announcements we showcase special reports or projects.  On Fridays we have a Friday show that is prepared by our advance classes which airs after the announcements.  Friday shows are generally 10 minute shows that are either like a news magazine, tv show, spoof or something of that sort.  We also will do projects for the district filming and editing talent shows, senior video for awards shows, parent information videos.  We also produce and air commercials for local businesses and school organizations.

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?

All kids participate in all of the activities of the program.  They rotate through out the various duties and learn to do all aspects of our broadcasts

Do students audition for on-air positions?

No auditions are necessary since they all have to do it at some point

Do they write the content? 
For all of their news stories, Friday shows and special projects, they write all of the content.  For the daily announcements, they are sent to us pre written.

How long does the show run? 
Our shows run from 5-15 minutes depending on the content for the day.

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

We participate with STN.  We send in contest pieces, and travel to competition with them every year.  We also send in to various other contests, film festivals and such.  We have participated in the RTNDF five freedoms contest for the past 2 years and had a student place 2nd last year.  At STN this year both of our Sweet 16 teams got Honorable Mention (4th) out of 70 teams competing.  For the past 2 years we have traveled to the Digital Media show that is hosted by San Benito High School in san Benito Texas.  There we have walked away with several 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place awards both years.  We also had a team participate in the 24 hour Apple Insomnia film Festival.

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

Currently, our broadcasts are only shown within the school walls, next year we will be streaming videos on the school website for parents to and the community to view.

Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
6 Imacs—final cut Studio
2 Canon Gl’s 2’s
3 canon HV 20’s
4 Canon ZR 800’s  a couple Panasonic cameras and a Sony camera
Headphones, light sets, camera lights, firewire, DVD/CD copier burner, DVD/VCR combo player burner.  Manfrotto Tripods, wireless mics, boom mics, production books on shots and tricks for editing and effects, and whatever else I can get my hands on.  We have a lot but we still need so much more.

Have any quick start tips!
To start you need a good proposal which shows the benefit of the program for the student’s education and future.  Talk to and get support from your principal, and technology director.  Start small.  Start with a simple camera, computer and editing program and then build upon that.  Most importantly get the students excited about the class and the program.  Make sure they have fun while they learn with hands on learning.  If they are excited the word will spread and your program will gain a lot of support and will naturally build, expand and improve. Don’t be afraid to listen to your students and make it a partnership.  They have a lot of creativity and ideas that will help the program.