SRL & ASCD launch #SeniorPortrait for high school seniors impacted by the Coronavirus

Arlington, Va. – PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL) and ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) are joining forces to launch #SeniorPortrait, a public awareness campaign to amplify the voices of millions of high school seniors whose class was dramatically disrupted by the coronavirus shutdown. 

“As soon as school closed, the outpouring of disappointment was crystal clear”, says Katherine Whitington, educator and finalist for 2019 Illinois State Teacher of the Year. 

Joseph Fatheree, a Top 10 Finalist for the 2016 Global Teacher Prize and 2007 Illinois State Teacher of the Year adds, “With the incredible loss our high school seniors are facing due to school closures around the country (high school prom, graduation, etc.), what if we found a way to give students and their teachers an outlet to share and document their stories for the future, all while finding an outlet to process this traumatic and unfortunate experience?” 

Together, Katherine and Joseph brought the idea to ASCD. 

“With our community of thousands of educators, we hope to reach as many high school seniors to cope with this situation and share their untold stories. We look forward to elevating student voices through this project,” says Aman Dhanda, ASCD’s Director of Educator Engagement, who approached SRL with the teacher leaders’ idea.

#SeniorPortrait will collect the video diaries of high school students across the country on social media. Responses will be amplified through SRL and ASCD’s platforms. SRL will work with ASCD to award the top three video submissions with $250 gift cards that will go toward assisting high school seniors through the pandemic.

“We are delighted to partner with ASCD to reach high school seniors through this amazing network of educators,” says Leah Clapman, who founded SRL over ten years ago and is the managing editor of education for the PBS NewsHour. “SRL stands with the millions of students whose lives have been disrupted. Over the past decade, we’ve developed tools and resources that empower teens to add their voices to the national conversation. Media making is a powerful way to process their loss during this uncertain time.”

How to Participate

Educators can use these guidelines with their seniors to start creating and submitting videos using #SeniorPortrait on social media. Additionally, SRL and ASCD will hold a brief kick-off webinar on Thursday, April 30 at 7pm CT to discuss steps for educators on how to encourage their high school seniors to participate. Step-by-step instructions on how to submit video using the #SeniorPortrait will be shared. A website housing all submissions will be released at a later date. Register for the kick-off here:

About SRL

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL) builds the next generation of video journalists by connecting educators with an innovative video journalism curriculum and network of public broadcasting mentors to develop digital media, critical thinking, and communication skills while producing original news reports from a youth perspective. Over 150 schools across 46 states and the District of Columbia participate, reaching 3,000 students. Over the last decade, SRL youth media producers have helped students place over 50 video news reports on the PBS NewsHour’s nightly broadcast and more on local media outlets. Visit to learn more.

About PBS NewsHour

For more than 40 years, millions of Americans and citizens of the world have turned to the PBS NewsHour for the solid, reliable reporting that has made it one of the most trusted news programs on television. PBS NewsHour is a production of NewsHour Productions LLC, a wholly-owned non-profit subsidiary of WETA Washington, DC, in association with WNET in New York. More information on PBS NewsHour is available at On social media, visit PBS NewsHour on Facebook or follow @NewsHour on Twitter. 

About PBS

The Public Broadcasting Service, or better known as PBS, was established in 1969 and has grown to 350 member television stations. PBS distributes a number of television programs that speak to children and families, from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street to Downtown Abbey and This Old House. According to Nielsen Media Research, PBS reaches over 80% of households in the United States. Learn more at

About ASCD

ASCD (Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development) is a global nonprofit that empowers educators to achieve excellence in learning, teaching, and leading so that every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Comprising 113,573 members—superintendents, principals, teachers, and advocates from more than 129 countries—the ASCD community also includes 71 affiliate and connected community organizations. ASCD’s innovative solutions promote the success of each child. To learn more about how ASCD supports educators as they learn, teach, and lead, visit

Media Contacts:

Alexa Epitropoulos, ASCD Media and Author Relations Specialist, 703-575-5784, 

Marcus Markle, SRL Communications Manager, 818-282-5679,