Yesterday’s experience of helping coordinate a video shoot for a national (and international) audience proved to be one of the most rewarding experiences in recent memory. Having the opportunity to see the work of the Initiative showcased through the words and testimonials of students and facilitators was humbling. Seeing the sophistication, poise, and passion of our students, whether they be in the fourth grade or starting their Senior year, was exciting. Hearing our facilitators come alive when recounting their experiences with their students was powerful. But, for me, the most satisfying part of the whole experience was seeing the whole experience unfold as an EAST success story. Here we had a professional video crew that was comprised of EAST alumni working to capture the story of current EAST students and facilitators to help tell a story about the greatest educational model in the world. I was awed.
The day began with an early morning call and drive to the birthplace of EAST, Greenbrier High School. There we met our video crew and were pleasantly surprised to find that the producer and videographer were both former EAST students now earning their living using the skills they learned in EAST back in the early days. After a quick set-up and lighting test, the filming began by describing an ultra-sophisticated GIS project that allowed local firefighters in rural Greenbrier to maintain their hydrant system. As we have become accustomed to, Stetson was more than a good representative of his school; he was a passionate advocate and resource for his community.
The energy level really amped up when the team from Sonora Elementary in Springdale, Arkansas arrived. A facilitator, a dad (who just happened to be a mechanical engineer) and four of the bubbliest elementary students on summer break as you’re ever likely to meet, all rolled in to share their stories of learning to “do EAST” and taking on projects of their own. This is a team that was able to go toe-to-toe with a Northwest Arkansas TV station director about the relative merits of the video editing software he was using for his newscasts versus the ones they were using for theirs. They won, and now the station has upgraded.
We ended the day with a recently graduated alum sharing how EAST has led to his work in college as the youngest member of the sports video team for a major Division I school. And his grades are none too shabby either.
So from top to bottom the day was a total EAST day. The crew, the “talent,” and the support system. When the rest of the world sees just this one little six-minute piece (one of only five being used to spotlight programs of excellence this year), they won’t know the inside story. But we do, and I think it’s just the beginning rumblings of the wave of success to come as more and more EAST students make their way into the larger world.
As I told the producer (a former student of mine), this is what it’s all about. Four “generations” of EAST coming together to show the world what they can do when we give them a chance.