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    Telling the Story of a Superintendent and Her School District

    by Swikar Patel posted March 4, 2015

    My colleague Deanna Del Ciello and I ended up getting to Jennings, Mo., just past midnight after another assignment in Seattle. Two days is all we had to tell the story of Dr. Tiffany Anderson and the work she’s doing, before heading to Houston. It’s a bit overwhelming to drop in and out of different places. You could spend weeks in any one of these places and barely get the things you need. But we have two days.

    Portraits of Tiffany Anderson, the superintendent of the Jennings, Mo., school disctrict. --Swikar Patel/Education Week

    Portrait of Tiffany Anderson, the superintendent of the Jennings, Mo., school district. –Swikar Patel/Education Week

    There’s not much time to think. We’re so focused on capturing anything and everything. We don’t know how it’s all going to tie together in the end. We do the best we can, keeping our heads in the game until we get back to the editing room to put the story together.
    It seems as if we are completely unattached during the process, only focusing on this shot versus that other shot. It’s only when we get back to the office that we can start to process the experiences we had. We’re under a lot of pressure to tell a story in such a finite amount of time. We often worry that we missed something, that we didn’t do it justice.

    A month or so after Dr. Anderson’s video was published, we received this email from her.

    “I saw the video clip you produced from following me around. It is different seeing your own work as a viewer and I absolutely loved it and needed to see it last week. It is a reminder to others of the importance of our work every day. Last week another one of our students, a KG student this time was killed and as I began the crises plan that sadly I am all to familiar with, I was so saddened at the conditions poor families live in. We really are our children’s best hope and our support for the community has to be clear and unwavering. I needed to see that video this week. I didn’t realize it was circulating initially until I slowed down and read email. Thank you for capturing the importance of the work to show to others. As I have said before,  kids do not have time to wait on adults to take years to get this right. There is a true urgency to improve schools and literally the lives of countless families. Thank you very much for the great production!”

    Portraits of Tiffany Anderson, the superintendent of the Jennings, Mo., school district. --Swikar Patel/Education Week

    Portrait of Tiffany Anderson, the superintendent of the Jennings, Mo., school district. –Swikar Patel/Education Week

    It’s heartening to know that we did the story justice, that we told her story, that we communicated the importance of her work. It’s a great feeling to know that it can have such an emotional response and positive influence on Dr. Anderson. Most importantly it reminds me that what we do matters.

    To read more about the work Dr. Anderson is doing, read her profile on Education Week’s Leaders to Learn From site. 

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