The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

Virginia is for Learners

November 20, 2019

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Virginia is for Learners

Senior Jules Shepherd working outside the convention center.

Senior Jules Shepherd working outside the convention center.

Photo provided by David Small

Senior Jules Shepherd working outside the convention center.

Photo provided by David Small

Photo provided by David Small

Senior Jules Shepherd working outside the convention center.

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Last February, Television Production teacher David Small was approached by former Fluvanna Superintendent Gena Keller (who at that time was working for the VDOE) in order to produce a documentary with students that would tell the story of the new initiative in the state called the Virginia Is For Learners Innovation Network-#VaLIN.  The VDOE, along with the Virginia School Consortium for Learning-VaSCL, JMU, and Venture Capitalist and Education Change Agent Ted Dintersmith all began the task of networking 31 school divisions in our state in order to change the status-quo in education. Seniors Jules Shepherd, Sasha Federico, and FCHS graduates Kevin Burruss and Jordan Winsheimer began filming in March to tell this story of change from a student’s perspective, an idea brought forth by Shepherd.  As Burruss and Winsheimer have graduated, senior Kyia Scott has taken over the role of videographer.  

Advanced Learning Partnerships-ALP, is a team of education coaches that have been traveling throughout the state offering hands on support for the innovation teams in each of these school divisions.  As the student documentary team has been traveling around the state they have been working alongside these teams capturing the struggles and successes of this change.

ALP CEO Amos Fodchuk invited members of the Fluvanna student documentary team to present at the iNACOL Symposium in Palm Springs in order to help tell the story of what was happening in Virginia to a national audience. With the support of sponsors Ted Dintersmith, the Fluvanna Rotary, VaSCL, along with funds raised by the students, Shepherd and Federico were able to make the trip and present alongside the VaLIN team discussing the positive changes that were taking place in Virginia.  They were able to talk about the impact this has had on them as students and the things that have inspired them about the future of education in Virginia. The trailer for the documentary “Change It Up” received an outstanding response from the attendees who were so glad that the student voice was not only being heard, but listened to. VDOE State Superintendent, Dr. James Lane, who is spearheading VaLIN, was in attendance and gave his best wishes to the student team.

Following the time at iNACOL the students had the chance to travel to Los Angeles, California where they met with an acquaintance of Mr. Small who is a Storyboard Artist with DreamWorks Animation.  There they had a private tour of the facility and saw original artwork from many of their favorite animated films. They also saw the ins and outs of the many departments that work together to create an animated feature film.  Federico and Shepherd were also able to meet with a former student of Mr. Small’s, Tim Longo, who recently served as a project manager with ABC Television and currently is with wiip Studios creating programming for multiple streaming services.  Over a breakfast in an LA bakery Longo told of how he started in the business and what qualities he brings to the table in the fast moving world of the entertainment industry.  

Some of the most important qualities both of these gentlemen spoke of were the ability to show kindness in all situations and being passionate about what you do. 

Work on the documentary continues with planned filming in Newport News, Loudoun, Suffolk, and Rockbridge scheduled for this winter.

Editors Note: The documentary, “Change It Up” is set for a spring release.  To see the trailer check out this link.

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