Preparing students for college and beyond through real work experiences

Posted by Pedro Leija, PSJA ECHS Video Technology Instructor on 1/8/2019

Voices of PSJA Blog_Leija

There is no doubt high school football is king in the RGV and the three months the season lasts are very special to our community.  I had the privilege of covering this majestic sport for the last 16 years of my life, but this 2018-2019 season I was in for a big challenge and an even greater satisfaction.
 It first started when the PSJA Communications Department wanted to incorporate a pre-game show before the Friday Night Lights, but the timeframe made it impossible for coaches to be the guests.  After brainstorming and reaching some dead ends, we decided we would have a live segment highlighting all the wonderful things happening at our campuses. Yes, having the principals, teachers, and directors of organizations making a difference in our community sounded like a win-win situation. We could meet our goal of having a pre-game show and our audience would get to see all the great things happening at PSJA. 
Could it get any better?  It did, and it became a game changer.  After careful thought and long hours of planning, the idea of incorporating students was suggested into the production of the show.  I walked out of that meeting with a million ideas and not enough time. We re-organized and decided to offer an “experimental” internship, an experiment that a few weeks later became a reality.   First things first, only two high schools offer TV Production classes in the district and the first challenge was to get everybody involved.  An open casting was set with the idea of incorporating student reporters from all the high schools.  We had students from PSJA ECHS, PSJA North ECHS, PSJA Memorial ECHS, PSJA Southwest ECHS and PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM ECHS interested in participating. We went to all campuses and interviewed students, shared schedules and what followed in the next 12 weeks made me reconsider my ambitions in life. 
During the first football games this fall semester, the students showed up scared and nervous.  It was a normal occurrence; the students became exposed to a familiar environment but to an unfamiliar situation.  From seeing the game in the stands, now they were part of it.
In some instances, I would see their microphone shaking before they did their small interviews.  I realized that I needed to use a familiar teaching technique on them, so I incorporated the good old, “I do, we do, you do”, a technique I learned at the New Teacher Institute. I started doing my sideline reports and showed them how I got my notes, the stance in front of the camera, and the little details of reporting. Later, I invited them to be on camera with me and the final goal was for them to do interviews on their own.  By the second week, the students were reporting on their own. By the end of the season, they were bringing stories, running the camera, and presenting the halftime show on their own. I felt a sense of pride and satisfaction I had never experienced before as a professional. My “kids” were doing live reports, operating cameras, gathering information like professional reporters and presenting stories.  
PSJA ISD's 20+ staff, 7-camera live broadcasting operation of the game is top quality in the state.  Our students had exposure to professionals that are the best at their craft in the RGV. An experience that made one or more students even rethink their career choice.
How is this work connected to the Spirit of PSJA?
By the end of the internship, students became team players with professionals on the broadcasting field, developed initiative and shared their vision. Now they are confident individuals believing in the skills acquired during high school and a memorable internship.
About Me
* Two years working at PSJA ISD
* PSJA High School Class of 1995