Teacher Feature February 2024: Ashley Porter

Each month, we spotlight and celebrate a teacher in our community.

Ashley Porter teaches at DC International School in Washington, D.C., where she helped start the Career Program video production classes with DCI film teacher Jose Reyes. Three years later, it’s evolved into a vibrant in-person program that includes incredible students, the school’s first-ever news show, and a mix of serious and ridiculous stories (“If you see a student dressed as Buddy the Elf or a large dragon, and they’re followed by a camera, it’s probably us” says Ashley). Before DCI, Ashley taught at Pine Crest School (another school in the SRL network), and before that, she was an Emmy Award-winning TV reporter and multimedia journalist. 

Discover Ashley’s favorite StoryMaker lesson, her go-to media-making tools, and her impact as a dedicated half marathoner in our  Q&A below.

How long have you been using StoryMaker or SRL resources in your classroom? I have had the privilege of working with SRL on some awesome stories since 2018, and have been using StoryMaker since the 2020-21 school year.

What’s your favorite StoryMaker lesson? Along with the 2023-24 prompts, I’d say my favorite is the In-Camera Edit. Students find it both challenging and funny to record and watch in-camera edit projects, and it makes them think about storytelling and sequencing in a different way.

What’s a media-making tool or resource you can’t live without? When I was a reporter, some of my greatest nat pops were picked up using Sennheiser wireless mics, so they were the first item I got for our equipment fleet. We were also lucky to get an anchor desk this year with the Dragon TV logo on it, which has really hyped the program on campus. For mobile equipment, DJI gimbals are relatively easy to learn and teach (especially for what they contribute to student productions), and I love seeing how much students enjoy using them.

Links to your students’ work: DCI Dragon TV,  National Mall’s public art exhibit explores American resilience and untold stories; Back to School TikTok Takeover (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 Day 4, Day 5); more from DCI can be found here

What’s a dream story you’d like to report on or a person you’d like to interview?

When I was a multimedia journalist in Tampa, I started a series called “Making a Difference,” where I got to meet all kinds of people who were helping their community in all kinds of ways. I’d love to continue producing those kinds of stories.

What’s your advice for teachers and educators just getting started on StoryMaker? Just go to the Resource Library and start searching key terms. When I was starting with StoryMaker, that strategy provided some great intro lessons for everything from writing voiceovers to crafting interview questions. I combined those resources with my own ideas, but they’re also solid enough to run on their own! 

What are you currently listening to? My running playlist (I’m training for a half marathon). It includes everything from Tank and the Bangas and BTS to Metallica and Celia Cruz.

Fun fact: I run for fun but also to try to help others. In 2022, I ran a half marathon for a former colleague’s son and raised money for childhood cancer research. Last year, I ran to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, and I’m about to start my third season volunteering with the Ulman Foundation to support cancer survivors in training for a 5K.

Bonus fun fact: My first TV job (shortly after graduating high school!) was at a PBS station in South Florida, so I will always have a soft spot for public broadcasting 🙂

You can reach out to Ashley directly to learn more about how she’s adapted StoryMaker into her classroom. Email her at: ashley.porter@dcinternationalschool.org or follow her on Instagram @thirtysevenpiecesofflair