It was a Tuesday morning in the media lab at Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy, and fifth-grader Nevaeh Bandy was the center of attention.
With a call of “Three, two, one … Action!” Bandy kicked off the elementary school’s morning news program, a daily production that sets the tone for more than 500 students at the school.
With principal Amy Brace at the anchor desk alongside third-grader Deidra Davis and fourth-grader Jamya King, the student-led crew gave updates about topics including the lunch menu, weather and birthdays, along with a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance.
As fourth-grader David Weaver gave a message about the importance of being considerate, his mother – parent volunteer Senetra Weaver – gave a whisper and a smile: “That’s my baby!”
Sarah Moore Greene is a magnet school with a communications focus, but it’s not the only school that uses morning announcements as a teaching tool. Across Knox County Schools, students are closely involved with news shows that not only provide updates to their classmates, but also give experience in the communications field.
At Blue Grass Elementary School, librarian Kerstin Sisco leads a news crew that uses a small studio with a green-painted wall as a backdrop.
On a morning last spring, Micah Kohring handled the anchor duties, while Anna Sergent, Rachel Hendon and Maggie Miller operated cameras, gave announcements and managed graphics.
Micah said he enjoyed being the anchor because “you can be funny and people can laugh at you.”
“It’s just all-around fun,” he added.
Even the mistakes are opportunities to learn resilience, and the importance of focusing on the details. Maggie said that during one broadcast she forgot to pause a video at the right time, which meant the sound of drums interrupted the show.
And what did she learn from that mistake? “To pause the video.”
Sisco said the broadcasts help bring the school together and help members of the news team learn to think on their feet. “These are life skills that they are learning,” she said.
For some students, serving on the school news team can lead to an up-close look at their real-life counterparts.
Jenna Myers, a technology teacher who leads the news program at Sarah Moore Greene, said that in the past her students have sometimes visited the studios of WVLT to meet the station’s broadcast team.
Back at school, Myers said that she rotates the broadcast responsibilities for students to make sure everyone learns each of the jobs, and that the morning show helps motivate students to arrive at school on time.
Deidra Davis, the school’s third-grade anchor, said one of the biggest challenges is to focus on the camera while also keeping an eye on the TV screen that shows the broadcast. But the experience of working on a news crew has also provided a valuable lesson.
“The more you practice, the more you get better at it,” she said.
Josh Flory is a multi-media specialist with Knox County Schools and writes this blog, Hall Pass, for the KCS website. This entry was originally posted March 15, 2019.