Wanda Swanson, Executive Director, Classroom Close-Up
As part of our Teacher Appreciation Week series, Steve Adubato goes on-location to the 2016 NJEA Convention to speak with the Executive Director of Classroom Close-Up, Wanda Swanson, about the importance of showing the great work teachers are doing across the Garden State.
"We are here in Atlantic City at Convention Hall, that's the 163rd annual New Jersey Education Association convention with the folks at Classroom Close-up. Wanda, Let me ask you something. You just told me, and it's gotta be... it can't be true. How many years you've been doing this? 23 years. 23 wonderful years. And by the way, we've been partnering with the NJEA in featuring Classroom Close-up not just the video production from in the field, but the educators who, in fact, are profiled in this series for many many years now. For those who don't know the series that is shown on NJTV, the public television station in the state, what is it? Our focus is the great things that are happening in the New Jersey public schools. So we do everything from math and science and STEM and STEAM and music and you name it. We do stories, we feature personnel and things that they do, and what they contribute to the school, community, and every... everything you can think of, we've done stories on over the 23 years. There are some amazing things happening in our New Jersey public schools. There have been times I've interviewed educators, and I don't watch the Classroom Close-up stories before I see them in the studio by design, frankly, Wanda, cause I want to react to them. And they are incredibly powerful and emotional. And they're actually hard to pick up the interview after that. Do you have the same feeling sometimes that you... when the story is told, and you realize how emotional they really are? You know, it's funny. When we're there, sometimes when we're doing interviews they start crying, I start crying, and then after they see the story put together, the five minute story put together, they get emotional. Because, first of all, someone's paying attention to what they're doing and acknowledging that we do... Why does that matter so much to them? They're so passionate. Not about themselves, but about their students, and what they can accomplish with their students. They're so proud of their students. They're... our educators are the most unselfish, dedicated people you can imagine, and all they care about is doing right by their students. Let me put you on the spot. At the risk of... I don't want to create any problems with anyone else. You know where I'm going here. I do. Give me one Classroom Close-up story in the last few months that you say, "Wow, that's gonna stick in my mind down the road." Ooh, last... you know, that is tough. I'll... one we did last year, it was a teacher, you interviewed him. He... he taught..."