25 Remarkable Years of "Classroom Close-Up"
Wanda Swanson, Executive Director of the NJEA's “Classroom Close-up” and Steve Adubato discuss the remarkable public school teachers and staff in New Jersey that have made the half-hour television program such a success. Wanda also looks back on the past 25 years of the Classroom Close-up series as she prepares to retire.
"Because of Classroom Close-up I have had windows into other educators' classrooms. I see what an amazing state we are, where there are so many talented and creative educators giving their 100% to their children every single day. As an educator, it's always nice to have your work highlighted... but especially as an arts educator, we spend so much time fighting for our funding. But when you have a segment like Classroom Close-up showing the value and showing the impact to the community and the students in arts programming, you can't put a price on that. Well, I'll tell you what, Classroom Close-up is extraordinary... and the young lady we have on camera has been helping to make it happen for more than a few years. Wanda Swanson, Executive Producer of Classroom Close-up produced by the New Jersey Education Association, and has been airing on public broadcasting... for many years before that on a different platform. And we've been partners and collaborators, we've been running excerpts from Classroom Close-up, featuring those educators who are so special. I heard that this is apparently time that you're stepping away from this? I'm retiring. You're too good at this, what are you doing? You know, it's time for everybody to move on and enjoy life and travel and drink coffee on the porch, but I've had a great run. It's been 25 wonderful years. You know... You're here from Wyoming originally? Mm hmm. You're not a Jersey girl, but you've adopted our state, we've adopted you. Love this state. And with your colleagues at Classroom Close-up, you just had such an impact for 25 years. 15 Emmy Awards and potentially more because there will be more submissions in their future. Your greatest satisfaction in doing this? Giving voice to people that are voiceless. I mean, people are so critical of the schools, but they don't know what it's like to to go in and see, not only the the teachers and the impact that they have on the students, but... everybody that works in the schools, they care. I mean, from the secretary to the aide and the bus driver, and the food service worker... those are their babies and they care about those kids, and we're giving them a voice. They're the heroes. How many Classroom Close-up segments do you think you and your team have done in the past 25 years? About fifteen to seventeen hundred. Wow. And we've had this conversation before, how have you picked among thousands and tens of thousands of great educators? We try to do a variety of locations... from north to south, from preschool to..."