SRL Connected Educator of the Month: October 2015

Congratulations to Victor Fernandez from Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High Biscayne Bay Campus in North Miami, Florida. Victor’s positive energy and remarkable ability to lead make him the Student Reporting Labs Connected Educator of the Month.

While working on last year’s signature series The New Safe, Victor’s students produced a story about the police force within Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which has an officer assigned to every school and its own K-9 unit. During the 2015 SRL Teacher Bootcamp, his team produced a beautiful profile of an artist who combines martial arts and meditation that aired on PBS NewsHour. Victor is also leading the production of a news special at his high school that will highlight SRL content.

We asked Victor a few questions to learn more about what inspires him, and his thoughts on student voices in the news.

1. What was your favorite PBS show as a kid?
Unfortunately, I did not grow up watching PBS as a child because I moved to the U.S. after my early years. I now enjoy watching “Curious George” with my three babies, Victoria, Matthias and Sophia.

2. If you could swap lives with a journalist for a day, who would it be and why?
Shane Smith from VICE News. He interviews the most powerful people in the world and makes it look easy. He is not afraid to ask the hard questions and is always producing powerful stories with rich content and strong visuals.

3. What do you believe are the benefits of training students to tell stories through video?
As a filmmaker, I like it when my students get creative when telling their stories. I always tell them to make videos they would be proud to share with the rest of the world.

4. Why do you believe student voices are important in the news?
Students have different points of view from adults. Even though they might be inexperienced, they will surprise you with their opinions and beliefs. Their innocence is worthy of our attention.

5. While participating in the SRL Teacher Bootcamp, what surprised you the most about yourself?
Discovering that my weaknesses as a journalist can always be assisted by the strength of others. I was able to work with such an amazing group of talented teachers whose strengths helped me become a better storyteller.

6. What lessons have you learned so far and how do they inform your teaching?
Short, precise and well-built stories can enhance the learning process when students produce their first few stories. Sometimes we think too big when it comes to producing a news segment, but they need to start small and learn little by little in the art of storytelling.

7. What do you hope to accomplish with SRL?
I hope this year I will be able to see some amazing work from my students in all of the SRL rapid responses. All of them are new to SRL and it will definitely be a challenge to get their stories up to broadcast standards. I think they will surprise me and hopefully surprise you, too.