SRL Connected Educator of the Month: April 2017

Gina Ryan is the director of television for Hardin County Educational and Community Television or HCEC-TV, a vocational program for Hardin County high school students in Kentucky. This month, Central Hardin High School completed a story documenting the effort to understand white-nose syndrome affecting bats in Mammoth Cave National Park. NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff gave their story a shoutout on the broadcast. We wanted to hear more about Gina’s SRL experience.

What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to storytelling?   

I teach my students that every person, every topic and every moment has the potential to be a story to tell. Likewise, every story can be told in a multitude of ways. The number of stories are unlimited and everyone can be a storyteller.

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

For over 30 years, I’ve had the privilege of seeing stories through the eyes of my students, and there is not one place I would rather learn. The perspectives of students never cease to amaze and transform me daily. They views and ideas are positive, intriguing, poignant, relevant, fresh, captivating, raw and emotional. Students who tell stories can accomplish anything they choose to work toward. It’s a gift to be hear their messages about the world.   

How can we get youth more interested in the news?  

My students are very interested in the news they encounter via social media. That means “real news” outlets need to work harder to hit their social media stream. I think making them the reporters producing the content is a step in the right direction. The SRL team does a tremendous job guiding our media savvy students in areas that they probably wouldn’t have traveled before. So my suggestion is to continue letting the students generate the content.

How can we teach youth to be more inquisitive in the world around them?  

I wonder, is a person born inquisitive or can it be learned? I know that I have always been an inquisitive person, just ask my mother and all of the teachers I’ve ever had in my life. Teaching it is harder. I stress to my students that you need to be a detective, a researcher, an inventor, a sculptor (with the form coming out from within), an investigator, a creator, etc. I give the students one topic and ask them to tell the story in multiple genres, for multiple audiences, with multiple possibilities.

What do you hope to accomplish with SRL?  

My goal is to promote my students’ work to a worldwide audience. The work my HCEC-TV students produce is streamed on our channel as well as cablecast over five counties in Kentucky on three cable networks. But SRL gives their work instant credibility with an international audience that our channel can’t reach. The SRL curriculum and tools are priceless in the classroom. I want my students to graduate with an electronic portfolio that rivals a senior in college, with a body of work of so many well-produced products that they could get an entry level job in most media markets.