Episode # 43

Building a Media Program with North Canton City Schools

November 9, 2023

About This Episode

On this episode, Kara & Caryn speak with Tom Wilson, Dani Wackerley, & Josh Branch of North Canton City Schools about their in-house content production program, which includes a Mobile Story Tellar project housed inside of a refitted bus.


Tom Wilson

Tom Wilson is Coordinator of Media for North Canton City Schools in Ohio. He started Hoover’s video production program 1998 with just 13 students, two video cameras, and a single editing system. Today Hoover’s Video Production and Broadcast Journalism has grown into one of the largest programs available to high school students.

Dani Wackerly

This is Dani’s 12th year teaching high school. She currently teaches freshmen English, NCtv News, and broadcast journalism. This is her 8th year teaching Hoover’s broadcast journalism program.

Josh Branch

As Video Production teacher, Josh uses his bevy of experience in storytelling to help students communicate their story using moving images. Josh brings 20+ years of award-winning videography to his 12-year education experience.



Kara: Joining us today is Danny Wackerly, Tom Wilson, and Josh Branch from North Canton City Schools.

So hey guys, thanks so much for talking to us today.

Josh: Hey, we’re glad to be here. Yo.

Kara: We’re really excited to hear about your program because for our audience, we actually met these North. Canton city school people, as well as their students at OETC when they brought their big really cool bus to park in the exhibit hall.

So we’re going to talk a little bit about the bus and each of these fun individuals that have created this awesome program. So. I’m going to have each of [00:01:00] you just start and tell us how you ended up teaching.

Dani: I’m Danny Wackerly. This is actually my 12th year teaching high school, but I am actually, and while I went to school, I should say to be an English teacher. But my license is in something called integrated language arts. So really anything that falls like in that realm of language arts.

So journalism, for example is something that I’m qualified to teach. So a couple of years into teaching, maybe like four years in, I think the person who was teaching broadcast journalism had stepped out of that role. And so they kind of went through. Who else is qualified to teach this and asked if anyone had any interest and I was like, well, that sounds cool.

Sure. Like I’ll try it. And it was a little overwhelming at first when I came down here because there was a lot, I felt like I didn’t know how to do. You know, I felt pretty confident in the script writing aspect of it and kind of the storytelling, but there’s like a whole other technical [00:02:00] aspect that I was just like, What?

It was again, very overwhelming. But Tom was down here at the time and then the video productions teacher at the time was Tim McCarty and they were great. I feel like they walked me through everything. They taught me how to use a camera, how to edit stuff how to use microphones. They taught me.

Stuff like in our control room for our news broadcasts, like they really just kind of took me under their wing and taught me a lot of things and made me a lot more confident in the technical side of it. So now I think this is year eight. I was thinking about it the other day. I’m pretty sure this is going into year eight of doing the program and we’ve made a lot of changes with, you know.

putting more on broadcast students to do that stuff, like filming their own stories and doing the editing part of it. Because students that we’ve had who’ve graduated from the program in the past have come back and said, you know, Hey, it’s not just the journalism piece. It is some of this like technical stuff too.

And [00:03:00] obviously we want our students to, to be ready. When they go out there and choose to pursue this path in the real world. So yeah, they were really great in trying to help me with a lot of that. And then even this year you know, Josh has helped me with like learning a new editing system. We switched to using Adobe premiere.

So he’s kind of taught me some of that cause he’s like the premier master. So really it’s just been a lot of help from them. But I guess technically what I’m licensed in is what allowed me to teach it, but it was definitely a big learning curve. Super glad I took the leap though. It’s like definitely my favorite part of the day.

So I love teaching.

Kara: That’s awesome. And I was going to, I’m glad you mentioned that their classes, because I was going to ask you if it’s a class or a club or how that all works.

Dani: So yeah, they are classes. So we have two, one is like our news production where it’s almost kind of more like a job. Because literally the kids come in every day and they know what to do.

They all have aspects either in front of the camera or maybe on the production side, like behind the camera. But [00:04:00] really most days they’re coming in and they’re just creating the new show. Now on Mondays we do have a chance to kind of like regroup and I can teach and we can talk through things, but otherwise like Tuesday through Friday.

It becomes a well oiled machine at some point, and the kids get a chance to do all kinds of different roles through the news team. They rotate positions like every two weeks, so my kids are doing a lot of the aspects, and then the video productions kids are doing other things like running the cameras, the teleprompter.

technical director, audio, so on and so forth. But the two classes really work together during first period to create a new show. And then my second period class is more, it’s kind of split. Some kids choose to repeat the course and I guess can do more advanced things, but other kids are kind of learning the basics.

You know, how do we film? How do we put a story together? We do, how do we do an interview? Mic someone, all that kind of stuff. But they are both academic classes.

Kara: Very cool. Okay. So Tom, maybe you go next.

Tom: Yeah. Okay. [00:05:00] So my route, well, let’s put it this way at the convocation this year, I had to go up on stage as one of those old teachers because they gave me my 25 year award in education.

So yeah, so I’m kind of up there and I will say this, you know, Danny kind of put herself down in terms of technology. She understands technology and she grasps it super quick. So she has just jumped in and does an amazing job with, with the tech stuff, which is really cool because both Josh and I, we can’t be everywhere all the time.

And like, it’s like Danny said, it has just changed over the years and through convergence, even if you’re in broadcast journalism, you’re a broadcaster, as you guys know, you’re doing all the tech as well. So, yeah, so she’s, she’s very, very good in that area of tech. But yeah, so I actually graduated from Hoover high school, so I was a Hoover high alum.

So was Danny. So was Josh. We were actually all three Hoover high alum. Mine was just, yeah, mine was just back in the nineties where they were much, much later than that, of course. And so I graduated from high school and thought. I don’t know exactly what to do. I’m going to go into teaching. So I went in to college at Kent state [00:06:00] to get a social studies degree.

And within my first year, I was working with a company that did a lot of video work and the more I went through college, the more I realized, I’m not sure that I want to teach, I think I really wanted to video. That company went up for sale literally the week that I graduated. So I bought that company and was going to go for doing that.

And so for a couple of years I did a lot of that was doing some subbing. Also, a lot of my client work was for North Canton city school. So at one point I got a phone call that said, Hey, you know, would you consider starting a class in this? And I said, Oh man, that would be the best of both worlds. So so I jumped in and yeah, so we started very, very small, like 13 students.

We had, I think, two cameras, one editing station, and that was about it. I mean, that’s like all we could do. So from there we were like the little engine that could, and we just grew and grew. And so in 2003 so about five years into it, I had a really strong group of students. One of them was Josh who he can tell you more about that.

And at that point the program really began to grow. We took on a second teacher. We started a TV [00:07:00] station for the city of North Canton, and we also started the broadcast journalism program. Yeah. So that. First five years, I was really solo doing this all on my own. But we knew that we wanted to grow really big if we could.

And we had a sort of a strategic plan that first year and that sort of developed into where we are today. So we moved from our old classroom where Josh was that following year. After he graduated, we moved into this big facility with the. TV studio and control room and all the separate editing rooms and things like that.

So so a lot of changes we’ve seen over the years and probably our most recent is actually the room that we’re sitting in, which is our podcast room. That was an editing room that we converted over to a podcast room. And the reason we did that was some of Danny’s students as a broadcast journalism said, Hey, you know, we love doing studio shows, but we’d like to do.

Podcasts and learn how to do that. So we said, well, let’s figure out if we can make this happen for you. And so we did we had basically donations to make it happen, but now we have this really cool podcast room, which is kind of fun. So, so that’s kind of how I got here to this point and turn it over to Josh.

Josh: [00:08:00] Okay. Yeah. So I had a very interesting path into education. I had a whole previous career for. At least 10 years in industry, I was a corporate videographer for Goodyear and then I worked for an external production company before that that did a lot of overflow work for Goodyear.

That’s how I got in. So as Tom said, I am a graduate of the program, a proud Hoover grad 2003. And as he was saying, that year was very special. There was just a lot of convergence happening, a lot of neat things as Tom was growing the program and putting in a lot of work. And so I, I left and I kind of went to college and I was like, geez, my high school has a better program than my college.

What, what are we going to do here? And actually got a job working in the industry, my freshman year of college, I got a first semester. I was making really good money and, and, and doing that. And and I actually dropped out of college and then eventually went back and now I have my master’s. But so I, I did production for, you know, 10 [00:09:00] ish years.

And and then we were traveling a ton 150 days a year. Oh, wow. Yeah. We started having babies. I was like, Hmm, what can I do that? I don’t have to travel. And there was always something very attractive about going into the education and Tom’s program just meant so much to me growing up and really gave me purpose in life and, and a life skill.

I can go anywhere in the world and or living based on, on what we did there. So. So that’s how I got an education. So I taught for 10 years at another high school Glen Oak High School, Plain Local Schools. And then last year Tom brought me over here. So it’s been a fantastic teamwork partnership.

Love it. And happy to be here.

Kara: That’s so cool.

Tom: It’s great to have Josh here.

Kara: Yeah. Well, and I think what’s so cool about this whole program is that real life skills that they’re developing that for sure. Not transition, but what’s the [00:10:00] word I’m looking for? Translate. Yes. Thank you.

Josh: Yeah, they really can. They can go into so many different things. And I think one thing that has made Hoover’s program unique really from the, kind of that 2003 year was when we started broadcast journalism. So video production back then was vocational. And then today it’s actually part of the career tech.

And we actually combined broadcast journalism with video production. As far as I know, I’ve never met another school across the country that. That does the same thing. Usually your video productions or maybe your broadcast journalism and you’re kind of trying to fill in those roles and teach all of those.

But in the beginning, we were very separate. So, for example, only the video students would go out and film a video and they would film a broadcast student on camera today. It’s a lot different broadcast journalism students there. taking the cameras out, they’re doing the editing. But when we come together to do that daily news broadcast, we are bringing video productions and all their skills together with broadcast journalism.

And they’ve got this great show. Or when we go down to let’s say a trade show, like down in Columbus with the Ohio educational technology conference, they’ll be working together. Video [00:11:00] production will be, we’re doing a lot of the camera work and editing broadcast journalism. They’re going to be crafting stories and putting those together and being on camera.

That is a marriage that we really have not seen in other programs, and it may be out there. It’s just we haven’t seen it. And I think that’s what helped us grow. And it made our students extra successful because it was just like the industry, especially going back 25 years ago, and then we’ve kind of morphed it into what it is today.

But I think that really helped because too strong, you know, points of convergence that are coming together.

Kara: I know you mentioned like a newscast. What are all the different things they’re doing? And you said, obviously they wanted to start a podcast, but are there things that they do every week throughout the year?

Or do they take on extra projects or are there community people that reach out for them to do things or?

Dani: Yes. All of that. They do a lot.

Josh: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And I should, I should say that the broadcast journalism and video production is sort of our level three class for [00:12:00] video productions. They’re sort of the, the morning team that gets together for about half of that time.

And then once the broadcast journalism classes and Josh is working strictly with his video production students and they’re here all day. Because there’s level one, two, and three of those classes. Danny has sort of a level one and two that are here in the morning. So yeah, there are all kinds of things that they get involved in.

So Josh can talk to some of the things with video production and Danny can talk with some of the things that we even do where we combine them, but yeah. Who wants to say what we do?

Dani: Okay, I’ll jump in. Yeah, so in the morning, like I had kind of mentioned, our first period, so it’s, you know, basically as soon as our bell rings.

Actually, some of my students even come in early. Before the first bell rings, we start building a daily news show. So we literally, like, build it from the ground up every single day. Which, what that looks like is, they have an email account that the students Students are kind of responsible for checking that would be where like teachers or administrators send communication about, hey, we need this announced or [00:13:00] things like that.

So we write all of those things into our show. And then we’re also making decisions about if we’ve created stories from the district or the community or whatever, what is relevant. to maybe put in the show. What do we have time for? We also have students who are writing like segments. So certain days we have like what we call our game time report, which is kind of like a school sports or sometimes even national sports updates.

We also have like a weekly scoop or like a news to know our two names that we call it, where it could be anything from lighthearted news, like pop culture, entertainment. So more like hard hitting stuff that could be again on the district, local or national level, but you know, students are helping make those those decisions on what needs to go in.

What do we have time for all those kinds of things? So they’re really handling like the producer kind of side of it and then we have kids, you know, start once the script is kind of finalized and ready to go moving into [00:14:00] the studio to go into the roles of like the talent. So we have like people who are on air anchors reading the announcements or reading the segments.

We have people who are acting as the floor director. So it’s, you know, cuing the talent of when to talk. That’s where like also the video production students are coming in because they’re running cameras. They’re directing from the control room. We have somebody obviously running audio and and making sure like levels are correct.

I mean, it’s It’s the whole production. And we do it every single day. We create about a seven minute news show every single day that they again, write, produce, they print the scripts, they get in, we try to practice it if we’ve got time.

Josh: Yeah. Usually at least one rehearsal, right? Unless we’re running late.

Dani: And then even though it doesn’t, like, actually play back live, we film it like it’s a live show. So, like, when they hit record, it’s start to finish as if it were live. We try really hard not to have to, like, go back and make edits if possible. And most of the time, we don’t, we haven’t really had to. I [00:15:00] feel like they’ve done a pretty good job of you know, getting through the whole show.

And so then after that, you know, we take it and we get it ready for playback. When most of our students are in the building because some of, you know, being high school, some students get that privilege of late arrival and things. So we play it back during the morning period where most kids are here during the day.

And then, you know, the whole school gets to watch it. We’ve also been posting this year on YouTube and on social media accounts. So like community members can watch it and stuff, but I mean, it, Like I said, it happens almost every single day. I’d say like four days a week, we are creating and producing a new show.

So it’s, it’s a lot. I do a good job.

Kara: Yeah, it, yeah, I know. I was going to say, I watched one of them. And it was, yeah, they were giving all the information about t shirt money is due and all the things. Yeah. And the sports update was on there. So yeah, it’s really

Dani: cool.

And then, you know, in my 2nd period class, most of what they’re learning to do and then I have some kids who [00:16:00] choose to retake it and, you know, can work on more advanced projects. But a lot of times what they’re doing is telling the stories of the community that we feel are important, whether, again, it’s at the school or maybe in the district somewhere, or even the community kids are finding those stories and acting as journalists where they’re conducting interviews, researching, getting information, writing the script, they’re recording voiceovers, they’re recording interviews, they’re recording footage, they’re editing it all together, they’re adjusting their audio levels, like they’re building a whole news package from the ground up.

And then most of the time those things get put. In our morning news show or sometimes out on social media and things like that. So yeah, I mean the, they’re, they’re actively creating stuff like every single day, it’s pretty cool to see.

Kara: I can’t even imagine what it looks like in, in action with, well, I guess I kind of saw it a little bit at OETC because they were walking around capturing live footage and taking notes and trying to find people to interview and all the things.

Dani: Yes, I feel like it’s very, [00:17:00] like, real world job esque for them.

But that’s what makes it fun for me, too. Like, I don’t have to sit there and lecture all day, you know. Yeah. I get to help them, but it’s very student driven.

Tom: Yeah, and very journalistically too. So the things that they’re going out let’s say somebody contacts us about an idea. We have to sort of look at, okay, is this a client project or is this a broadcast journalism story?

So it was more story related. We might send it off to Danny to say, Hey, do you want to present this to the students? So someone really can’t necessarily come to us and say, Hey, you have to do this because they’re interested. taking that journalistic perspective. And then if it’s coming in more like a client type thing, then Josh might take over because what he’s doing with the video production students oftentimes falls into more of a client role.

And there’s money involved there sometimes. Tell them about that, Josh.

Josh: Yeah. So on the video production end, you know, we’re, we have three levels of students. They can come in as a freshman and then all the way through senior year. And we’re, we’re doing kind of two things there. We are teaching curriculum in a very [00:18:00] systematic way.

And then we are also building a workforce for as they get more advanced. There are students that we tap and we say, Hey, we just got contacted by the professional football hall of fame to come and do some jobs. You know, do you want to come with me and do that? So it’s, it’s very interesting because we have rubrics and we have assignments and I have vocabulary tests, but all of that is for a purpose.

It’s to get the students to, to use those skills in a real world scenario. And so we have always an ongoing project, if not several. And so my job is part teacher and part you know, business manager. And so in my level three class, we start off every day with a business meeting. Hey, these are the projects that are happening here.

The deadlines give me the update. Have you contacted this person? Have you, you know, exported this? And then, you know, we, we always set them up to be successful. But, but we’re, [00:19:00] we’re, we’re shepherding that whole process. And so students get paid. Our biggest client is probably our district. You know, we’re doing hype videos.

We’re shooting for the football scoreboard on Friday nights. We do a lot of sports oriented videos. And then we have students shooting professional development days. We’re making promo videos for summer school. There’s a lot going on there that that we helped the district and then, yeah, we’re being contacted by outside entities, whether they’re nonprofits, whether they’re their state entities.

We get contacted by them quite a bit. And, and the reason for that is the program has shown over its, you know, 20 some year period. Thanks to Tom’s leadership that the students are prepared to be successful and that they can help people tell their story.

Kara: That’s Fantastic. Fantastic. Like I’m just so mesmerized by this whole, this whole thing.


Kara: And so that leads me to your bus. So I mentioned it at the beginning, but I want to know how that idea came about, how you got funding for such an amazing tool. And for people that haven’t seen it, what all is included in there?

Josh: Wow. Okay. Thanks for asking. So it’s called the mobile storyteller. It was, I guess my brainchild in the sense that you two weren’t quite here at that point, although the day that we launched it was the time that you got hired.

Right? So the first time I met you, you opened up the bus door and were like, hi, I’m K Teen Broadcast Journalism.

Dani: It was like a grand reveal. Nice to meet you,

Josh: even though we, I knew you taught here, but yeah, so I think so much of what we do comes out of some type of a student project or some experience that happened with the students.

And then later on, you know, I might find a student who I run into on the street and [00:21:00] they’re like, the best thing we ever did was this, you know, we. went to the set of America’s the home makeover. That was my, my favorite project. But there was one class in particular that I think it was, I want to say 2005 which was after Hurricane Katrina.

And we as a school district actually got involved with partnering with a school down there that had Gotten kind of wiped out down in bay, St. Louis, Mississippi. And we were fundraising all year. And at 1.1 of the administrators came and said, Hey, we have such a strong connection with them, would you guys be willing to go down for a week and shoot a documentary and kind of like explain their story of how they’re rebuilding?

And we said, yeah, I mean, we would love to do that. So we actually somebody donated the use of a, a bus that was here in town that let, actually LeBron James tended to use it a lot. It was like a, oh, it was like a. How would I describe it? Like an executive motor coach. So it was it was like an RV, but inside it would just had seats that faced each other and tables and stuff like that.

So what we did is we loaded up computers and equipment and, you know, it was a long time ago. So things were a little different the way they worked back then, but plugged everything in and we could actually [00:22:00] edit on the road. And we literally went down South for a week and we spent time with the community.

It was, you know. six months later and it was still like devastated. So when anytime I’d see those students, they say that was the best experience we ever had. We were immersed in it. We’d learned so much. And we had this strong connection to that community that we’ll never forget about. And, you know, some of them have gone back, they’ve gone down with Habitat and helped out and all kinds of stuff.

So it was neat. So at some point we were doing a lot of conferences where we would go and bring our equipment down and work for a week and. I was always like, man, this is a lot that we’re ripping out of here of our classroom. What if we could grant fund a vehicle to take down there? And from there, it just kind of snowballed into this 40 foot production bus.

Most people call it a van, but it really is a bus. It’s it’s as long as a school bus and a little bit wider than that. And then inside of it what I, what I wanted to do was have something that not. Just video productions could be involved in because that’s very common. Most programs. If you have a truck and a lot of them have trucks, we actually did before you could meet the students [00:23:00] on location.

They could get on the truck and there’d be a control room and you’d have the cameras. You could shoot a football game or just about, you know, community event. But we have this really strong broadcast journalism program that Danny’s teaching and they were kind of getting left out. And I thought, well, what if we could build the interior of that vehicle that would have tables and computers in it and they could actually travel and work on it.

And at the same time we could pull up shop somewhere, the control room becomes a live event control room. We can build a studio outside of it, but then inside they can be editing. And so there you have the mobile storyteller and we did grant fund it. It all came from a couple of local foundations.

About a year into designing the project we had raised a lot of money, but we were running into a little bit of a roadblock with the state of Ohio in that if we were to buy a used vehicle and renovate it, that could bring into question some insurance liability because what do you do with something that was not originally a seat and now you’re making it a seat?

I learned so much. It was great. I learned how to build a vehicle. So what we ended up doing was one of our grant funders local said, Hey, why don’t you get one more grant that can pay for a new vehicle? And there was this amazing [00:24:00] program at the time by state farm. That was, it was a set of grants.

They gave out 5 million a year. You could do up to a hundred thousand dollar grant and it was actually high school students who voted on these grants. They met in Florida and they would actually have this team. Yeah, it was great. And so the catch was the students had to write the grant. So I did a grant writing session with the students cause I’ve written quite a few grants for the program.

They wrote the grant and it came in at like a hundred thousand grant. And then that allowed us to buy a brand new vehicle. Which that ensured it was going to last like 30, you know, years or while we’ve long gone. Yeah, so we love it. It’s, it’s great. It’s a lot of fun. You know, it’s not on the road every day.

It’s not that kind of a vehicle, but when we do get out, sometimes we’re spending like a week at a conference and every day the kids are. Working on it 8, 10 hours a day. It still smells brand new, which is crazy. You get a lot of sweaty people on there. But we also do things like we were at the pro football hall of fame recently and, and shot an event that was over there.

So yeah, so mobile storyteller, it’s a lot of fun.

Kara: Can anybody sign up for this class [00:25:00] or are there stipulations or how does that process work?

Josh: So yeah, really any student can sign up for it. And we have so for example, in video productions, we have two sections of it. So we have right now, I think two.

Sections of like 20 students, almost one in each section, and then that will get funneled down as they go along broadcast journalism. There is 1.

Dani: yeah, it’s a little bit different. So, with broadcast, they do have the prerequisite of taking journalism. 1, which is kind of like an introduction. They do a broadcast unit in there, but they also learn a lot.

I think just with, like, you know, like laws, copyright, all that kind of stuff. And then they learned to write for print. And like I said, there is a section about broadcast to once they’ve taken journalism one, though, then they could take broadcast, which is not the class that does the news production every day, but the class.

that is building like those community stories. I feel like it’s important for kids to kind of know how to do that and have those skills before [00:26:00] joining the news team. Because sometimes, depending on our number of kids, there are kids as part of the news team where it’s their job to go out and film or edit and put stuff together.

And obviously, if they don’t have those skills, that’s difficult. So it’s almost like a A path, I guess, for broadcast where it’s like journalism one, then broadcast journalism, then a lot of students go into the news production class, but they can take broadcast and news multiple years. So like this year I have two seniors who actually took journalism one as eighth graders through our like middle school jumpstart program.

So they came over as eighth graders, took a high school course here, and then they have been in either broadcast or news or both. All four years of high school. So in that way, it’s kind of cool. Cause like then those kids obviously, you know, learn a lot of skills. They get really good at what they’re doing and they can kind of take on some more advanced stuff.

And I get to know them really well too, cause I worked with them for four years.

Kara: Yeah, for [00:27:00] sure. Well, and do you ever have like video production people that decide that they want to cross over and

Dani: yes, there have been a few that take both classes. Now, when they get into video productions three, that gets hard because it’s a three period class and it overlaps.

Oh, wow. With my class. But there have been kids who have taken both. And then sometimes they, they do tend to kind of go one path or the other .

Kara: So what has this whole program do you think? Brought to not only the school, but the students and the community

Josh: yeah, it was neat because we really did start as a community program. That, that was kind of my goal was to be supporting the arts, academics and athletics of our school district. And I always worded it that we started very small with our students building our curriculum. Once we had the curriculum, then we decided how we’re going to.

And then it became how we’re going to affect our school district and then eventually out to the community. And then now it’s almost like global, like how do we, how do we go beyond that? Because of things like YouTube and social media, you can go way beyond that, which is [00:28:00] really cool. And we do sometimes connect students, you know, they’ll do a story with somebody who might be in California and they’re, they’re connecting with them that way.

So it is neat. It is like a little gem. If you, we used to have. Be called channel 11 because we had our tv station and if you’d go to like the grocery store and you were wearing the channel tv 11 shirt, somebody would say, oh, I love that. You know, they would, they would watch that. But people really do.

I’m always amazed. I’ll go places and they’ll just like, I just love your program, your kids and you know, we see him all the time. It is great. It’s and that is something that we appreciate it. Try to translate to the students to get them to understand. What is it you always say, Josh, protect our, protect our good name.

It’s something I borrowed from a Goodyear days. We have such a fantastic reputation in the community over 20 years that, that the students need to understand that when you’re out there with a camera, you’re an ambassador. And you need to, you need to take

care of our image and it helps, I think it helps every production that we do is to say we want to look our best.

We want to speak our best. And we want to promote a [00:29:00] great message that, you know, is, is going to be helpful for people. 1 of the things that I’ve had the chance to do over the years is just do a little bit of travel and do what’s great about teaching is you can choose what you want to do in the summer a little bit.

And so I tend to work on overseas on some different productions, usually with human trafficking, and I’ll always share with students like after you graduate. Take a year or a semester and go abroad, go somewhere, third world country, something like that. Do something that’s completely outside your element because you’ll come back very changed in your perspective.

And so I think that hopefully helps them at some point, say, if I’m going to do media. I want to do media for good, right? They can join the evil empire and do things that are bad, but good with it. And because the thing is it really has, can have an impact and it can have some kind of a change. And that’s what storytelling is, whether it’s a news broadcast or we’re helping a client out like a nonprofit group.

We do a lot with nonprofits. So we’ve always wanted to give a voice to people in the community, especially nonprofits. And that’s where some of our public affairs shows that students will be interviewing people, we’ll [00:30:00] bring them on as a guest. And then they can share that out on their social media, but it gives them maybe an extended platform that they can talk about what they’re doing in the community.

And then I think, I think that reciprocates back to us. Right. And then, and then we hear good things. Yeah, so we, we try very much to make that sort of the core of what we do.

Kara: And again, what another great life lesson, right? Because that is an important skill when you’re working for a company, you’re representing them anytime.

You’re going out. So that’s fantastic.

Caryn: I love the recommendation to take that year because that’s not typically done here. And I feel like it’s so valuable for them because it’s otherwise it’s just like, go, go, go. You know, elementary, middle school, high school, college career.

There’s no break in that. I love that idea to go abroad.

Kara: Can you guys tell me a little bit about what you do with documentaries in regards to veterans?

Josh: [00:31:00] Yeah, I’ll, I’ll kind of start and you guys can jump in. But very early on in the program, it was actually year one, I think my principal came to me and said, Hey, you know, veterans day is coming up and Ohio had actually structured a law that said we really want all schools to be doing something on or near veterans day.

Either as an assembly or something like that. And so he said, you know, we’ve got this new video technology, we’ve got TVs and all the classrooms, what can we do? So we put together something very small scale I think just photographs. It was like a week before veterans day that we put it together and it just sort of took you through the history of some different wars and things like that.

Showed it on the TV and my principal who was a very stoic person. He only spoke when he had to say something very important to you. And it was very well thought out, called me and I realized he was in tears over the phone and I thought. Oh my, we did something here that affected people, right? And so we put it out on the local PBS station and stuff like that.

It was really neat. So then the next year we actually found a veteran and we told their story. It was like [00:32:00] a 20, 30 minute documentary. But what we were able to do was pull in the students to record the subject. We had to do all the research that was related to that. Do the script, we had to go online and download archival footage from the different wars and then also local archives.

We had to go to the local archivist to get stuff. So we put that out there and again, it was this really successful hit. People were just loved it. And we realized we brought the veteran in and their family and they were just so cherished in the long run because of the story that grandpa never really spoke about.

but was willing to do it as this project. So we did that many years in a row and we’ve done all kinds of things. And actually just this week, we’ve been talking about, okay, Veterans Day is around the corner. What are we going to do? And so we’ve been playing with different ideas. Anybody want to tell them sort of what we landed with?

What are we doing this year?

Tom: Yeah. So, Our stadium, which has just been completely torn down and rebuilt is called Memorial Stadium. And I didn’t know until [00:33:00] last year that that Memorial is actually remembering World War II. And so there’s a whole plaque there and they really tried to put that front and center that, you know, when we come here every Friday night.

It’s, it, it means more than just the game. We’re remembering the people in the past who gave their lives so that we could even do this. And so that’s kind of where we’re thinking about going and we’re excited to tell that story.

Josh: Yeah. That stadium was built just maybe two years after World War II. 1945.

Yeah. So the players that were there even in that first game, you know, you had folks whose family members you know, had, had possibly died in service or were in service. So it was. Done is this entire community committee that was making it Memorial Stadium. So we sort of fell upon this last year when they were doing the stadium renovation because there were very important things that we needed to make sure we archived and plaques that we needed to move to a new location.

So we said, wow, what would it be great to do something? Maybe for veterans day. So that’s going to be like the [00:34:00] hub of the story. And then for Danny, your students, like they’re going to hit the ground running here in the next week because they have stuff to do, right?

Dani: Yeah. And I think, you know, that’s one of the things I wanted to bring up, but I think it offers another like cool opportunity for video productions and broadcasts to kind of come together on that project.

So, you know, we work a lot every day on that news show, but this is like another outside opportunity where we’ve got the journalism aspect of it, where they’re doing the research, you know, maybe they’re interviewing. Community members, families of the veterans, the veteran him or herself. And you know, they’re jotting down notes and trying to tell the script.

And sometimes we have students actually like on camera, kind of like filling in the gaps a little bit in their story. So it’s like, we’ve got that aspect going on. And then, you know, a lot of the things that Tom talked about with, you know, how they created the first Veterans Day documentary, where they’re finding You know, pictures or whatever they might need.

Also editing the video together, filming things. You know, the kids really get to [00:35:00] do it and we’re just the guides and we help facilitate it, but it’s another like real world thing that they get to work on. And again, I think it just has so much more like meaning to it. Kind of like reminded me when you were talking about, you know, what the core of some of the values here are that we’re trying to like instill in them is like, this is another opportunity for them to see that and do something important.

You know, not that our new show isn’t, isn’t important, but it means more than the morning announcements, you know?

Josh: And at a, at a time where like so much state testing, so many mandates that have really taken away from school’s ability to do like an assembly, you know, we don’t do assemblies like we did 20, 25 years ago.

There’s just not time to do that. Veterans Day is one time throughout the year, and I think you’ll find it almost every school. There’s something going on corporately, and there is something to say about a corporate get together for all of your students. So, you know, on or near Veterans Day, all of our students will tune in, and they will actually watch, you know, some kind of a presentation, and then hopefully that, Leads to some discussions and things like that.

So, yep. So we’re on the heels of that right [00:36:00] now. It’s coming like a freight train, but it’s gonna be a lot of fun because we’ll see all elements of production. I would say it’s probably one of the best things that we get to do with kids and it’ll be long lasting. You remember your documentary, right?

Tom: I do.

Yeah. We made a documentary back when I was a senior that I got to help shoot and edit. And I remember being here on a Saturday morning cause it was, it was deadline and we were getting it done. And we got to tell this, this beautiful man’s story And, and I actually ended up going to the funeral with you when he passed several years later, and that was such a, a nodal moment in, in, in my progression as a, as a professional, as a human being, to be able to take something so important and be entrusted with it as a, as a high school student.

And, and, and I would say we were faithful to it. We, we, we did well, we, we still show that documentary and it was just really important.

Kara: That’s really cool. Are those documentaries accessible to the public?

Josh: Yes, actually. Yeah. If you go [00:37:00] to North Canton City Schools look under the website under NCTV media. Now, okay.

As the time of this podcast, it’s not there because we just had an entirely new website built and those links were lost. But I have the first page set up. If you go to NCTV media, you can see the news broadcast .

Kara: That’s really awesome. Well, I thank you guys so much for talking to us.