School newscast empowers Riverview Gardens students to tell their own stories
by Carolina Hidalgo, St. Louis Public Radio
Fifth-grader Saniya Bryant sits at a desk at Koch Elementary, meticulously studying a set of questions. Behind her, a lime green cloth hangs from the ceiling. Across from her, a fourth-grader swivels a video camera in her direction.
“Quiet on set.”
Saniya is prepping herself to conduct an interview for Koch TV, the school's student-run online newscast. Originally a public speaking course for fourth- and fifth-graders, the class morphed into a news operation this year.
Every Thursday, students gather in a converted teacher's lounge at the Ferguson-area school to do research, prepare questions and write scripts. They record each other in front of the makeshift green screen with Principal Howard Fields’ personal Canon equipment and an iPad teleprompter.
They often interrupt the show to burst into song – a “Hello?” spoken into a mic becomes a quick Adele impersonation – and crack jokes – “You sound like some chicken without seasoning!” – but Fields is quick to point out the valuable skills they’re learning while having fun.
“They’re working on critical thinking, literacy, listening – components they’re being assessed on outside of Koch TV,” he said. “Everything we do is about impacting student achievement.”
A former high school basketball coach, Fields brings a coaching mentality to the news team. He reminds students to play their part – producer, anchor, cameraman – and work together.
“Mr. Fields steps back and lets us do what we’re capable of,” said fifth-grader Myauna Hayes, who Fields describes as a star reporter. “We’re all in this together.”