SRL Station Success: August 2017


As a PBS Teacher Ambassador, Mekca Wallace-Spurgin of Iowa Public Television is working with local schools to find opportunities for collaboration. We asked her how IPTV’s involvement with SRL is helping the station fulfill it’s educational mission.

When did your station first become a part of SRL?

Iowa is one of five states implementing the PBS Teacher Community Program. The program is designed to help level the playing field for smaller districts that often do not have the same technology, resources or  collaboration opportunities among educators. Working with Iowa Public Television, PBS, and other local partnerships, I am a Teacher Ambassador embedded in the Centerville School District. There, I have the opportunity to provide quality professional learning opportunities to improve teacher practices. The PBS Teacher Community Program got off the ground this past June at Iowa Public Television.  It was my role as the Teacher Ambassador to familiarize myself with both PBS and IPTV resources. A focus group was identified at Centerville High School in the area of Language Arts so I began my search to meet the needs of the group. I was immediately intrigued with the possibilities of the Student Reporting Labs. Fortunately I work with a very willing staff in Centerville! Curriculum Director Rhonda Raske has been very supportive as well as Carissa Marshall, the lead teacher implementing the SRL program.  

How has the Student Reporting Labs program benefited the station?

The Student Reporting Lab is a great asset to the PBS Teacher Community Program and the education department at Iowa Public Television. As a mentor to Carissa Marshall, we will work with a group of young students as they experience the life of a producer, videographer, editor, journalist and reporter, capturing life in small town Iowa. In the future, we hope to visit the station as well as invite staff from IPTV to join us in Centerville to not only provide tips when creating content and filming, but to truly establish a close working relationship among staff across various departments at IPTV.

Why is it important to help build the next generation of public media producers and participants?

Digital media is all around us today. Our students are engaging with many forms of Social Media and sometimes lack social etiquette. As producers and consumers of media, future generations need have the skills to be good digital citizens as well as how to analyze what they are seeing, hearing, and reading to be able to make informed decisions about what is happening in the world around them. Student Reporting Labs can help us as educators to empower our students to participate in and produce public media that is accurate and relevant to people throughout the world. Our young students are already producing media via Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, etc., so why not take advantage of what they are already doing and help them to channel their creativity.

If we all had limitless resources, how could we make the Student Reporting Labs program in your community even stronger?

Our partnership with Carissa at Centerville High School is really in it’s infancy. We are borrowing and piecing together equipment to make this happen. The gear we possess will help us to capture content but at this time we are lacking access to technology and software to help with editing. Funding to purchase additional equipment and cover the cost of field trips to the station periodically would be a dream come true! We are not however without hope and enthusiasm! Staff at IPTV and Centerville School District are our biggest cheerleaders and excited to see what the students produce. In an effort to promote the good things students will be doing, they have been asked by Curriculum Director Rhonda Raske to showcase their work on the newly revamped school website.