It was quite a day for me. QUITE a DAY!
It began early. 4:30 a.m. early. As the Hilliard Against Distracted Driving “representative” in my building, I arrived at school extra early to meet the morning news crews who were supposed to film some of my students (the ones who volunteered to come to school at 6: 00 a.m. to do this!) in a texting and driving simulator… basically, they sit in a car with video game goggles on and try to text while “driving” in the car. The set up was part of a day of awareness for 11th and 12th graders, who attended a program in the morning and then were SUPPOSED to practice in the simulator during lunch periods. Of course, that didn’t really happen because it was raining sideways by 4th period, so the simulator had to be disassembled. Anticlimactic. Since the hour long presentation advertised the simulator. Then it wasn’t there. Sigh.
So these students who showed up early this morning are about the coolest around. They were actually excited to do this; yes, it meant potentially being on TV, but that’s actually kind of horrifying to me so I just assumed it would be to everyone. And when they arrived at 6:00 a.m. to be told – BY ME – that the news crews just LEFT to go cover a smoldering fire and/or explosion by the airport, they didn’t even cuss (out loud). There were no tears, either. I was even impressed when they sat down and started studying for a chemistry test (that was to take place in approximately 6 hours). These sweethearts even smiled and nodded when I told them they might be interviewed during lunchtime for the afternoon or evening news, if some water could be found to douse those flames. Note: I was NOT one of those kids in high school. Satisfied with mediocrity I was. But I’m grateful these 6:00 a.m. kind of kids exist… without them, I probably wouldn’t challenge myself to do some of the classroom/teaching things I do (many of which are completely experimental, but they’re too nice to make fun of me to my face).
But the real excitement started at the end of the presentation (which seemed to only receive a lukewarm student response at best, except for the woman who described how after a distracted driving accident, her son was left alone to deal with the death of his father/her husband while she was in ICU being resuscitated… it was awfully quiet when she spoke). This was when the district media relations representative showed up… I don’t know much, but I know when this happens, something is either a.)going down, or b.)has gone down. Turns out there were several reporters on their way to cover our event! How exciting, I thought. The reporters want to see how the simulator works!
Well, no. They wanted to sell the program/simulator as a response to the death of one of our students in a car accident in August, and two other student/former student accidental deaths over the summer. In the world of school PR, this is Not Good. Obviously, we don’t want to bring up these events again for students who were close to those who died, nor do we want to upset the families of those involved. And, of course, when there are reporters around, schools have to be very careful about how minors are interviewed and presented in pictures or on screen. Of course I knew some of this before today but really… it was a little intense for a while there. I was darting around this tiny hallway/doorway, trying to man the HADD table to pass out shiny magnets and hope kids would sign up to join while also hoping to hang behind the kids being interviewed in case they needed me to intervene. Which apparently is the job of the PR person. But I felt responsible for all of this.
Side note: One of my newspaper kids did three impromptu interviews during this mad frenzied sweat fest I was having running in circles! I sort of forgot we (the school paper I advise) were even doing a story on this – and here she was with her little note pad scribbling furiously, collecting business cards from people who probably eat at restaurants for lunch. I was also trying to keep an eye on her, but I know she doesn’t need me. Which is a good feeling!
I’m still running in circles. The cameraman from NBC4 and a local reporter came in next… and the task was to find one of the very few students who actually were able to drive the simulator before it was soaked with rain. Another newspaper kid to the rescue! She raced down from her class and was completely adorable. She and I even got to sit at a table and “chat” while the camera took some footage of us… yes, I, lowly teacher to the stars, was on TV tonight for about one-third of a second. I was talking with my hands to my favorite student. I seem to recall the ACTUAL “conversation” as a gigglefest that was completely awkward, as she and I were sitting at a table for no reason with nothing in front of us to be potentially talking about, but on TV we looked legit.
And then the sweat fest was over. Everyone went back to their subsequent corners of central Ohio, and I back to my HADD table to clean up.
Today wasn’t entirely the success that I had envisioned beforehand. But I’m satisfied:
- HADD actually HAD an event (he he… get it?)
- It is confirmed, again, that I have some of the best students ever.
- I met some interesting people and watched a TV news segment from the “what about this scenario is actually newsworthy” conversation to the end, and then watched the final product.
- A dear friend listened to me complain about various school “items” (I HATE THAT WORD AS IT PERTAINS TO TESTING AND ALL THINGS SCHOOL RELATED). Always totally satisfying to get it all out there.
- And finally, dammit, I made a decision about myself. I can be a leader, and I can try to make my department and school a better place. I am not too soft, and I am not unstable. So yeah, it’s good that I know that. (Maybe I’ll tell you about that sometime.)
Hey, here’s our story: http://www2.nbc4i.com/news/2012/nov/12/no-texting-while-driving-message-comes-hilliard-hi-ar-1238231/