SRL Connected Educators of the Month: September 2018

Ashley, who teaches digital media production at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, applied to SRL last May, and soon after attended our annual Teacher Workshop in July. She returned to her school, where she joined her co-teacher, Jaimee Rashbaum, in quickly building up Pine Crest as a new Lab. Her students recently produced a story about a first time voter in South Florida.  Before becoming a teacher, Ashley worked as a TV reporter and multimedia journalist for several local news stations and a nationally syndicated entertainment show.  Ashley works with teacher Jaimee Rashbaum, who also teaches digital media production. SRL reached out to Ashley and Jaimee to talk about their passion for teaching media to young people.

What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to storytelling?

A good television story is a combination of good characters and strong visuals.  We encourage our students to find the emotion, connection, and creativity behind whatever topic they are trying to cover. We also talk with our students about the relevance to the audience. We want them to think about the things their audience cares about and make their stories interesting and relatable to that audience. 

How can student journalism help promote a greater understanding of the world?

Student journalism is vitally important, both for students and their audience. For students, journalism is an opportunity to learn about issues that they may not have known about otherwise, and then educate people in an impactful way.  Journalism enables critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and creativity. It’s so important for students to engage with these processes as media creators and consumers.

We often tell our students that whether they want to become a broadcast journalist later in life or not, the skills they learn in our program are invaluable for all types of careers.  Having the ability to ask good questions about the world around them, explain things to other people, and communicate publicly will help them in the future. We also feel it’s incredibly important for readers and viewers to hear youth perspectives and understand what they care about. Our students bring their own take to topics that surprise us and keep us on our toes all the time.

How can we get youth more interested in the news?

This actually is a very engaged generation. They know a lot about what is going on in the world, primarily through social media. What we focus on in our PCTV class is really understanding WHY what happens in the world matters, and HOW our students can filter through all the information that is available to them in order to be smart consumers of news.

What would life look like without public media?

In an era when so many of the most well-known media outlets are owned by large corporations, public media provides that voice of reason. Public television is an outlet in which corporate interests and advertising are not a factor. It’s important to cherish that, particularly in this era in which opinion-based media is becoming more and more prevalent.

What do you hope to accomplish with SRL?  

We hope to promote empathy and understanding among our students as they find and tell stories within their communities. SRL is inspiring our students to go outside of their comfort zone in our school campus and pursue topics and stories that are fresh and exciting.  SRL provides our students with the opportunity to share these stories on a local and hopefully even national stage, along with invaluable mentorship from industry professionals. We are so excited to be a part of this program and can’t wait to explore all the opportunities it has to offer.