Surrounded by cornfields and dirt roads, Nebraska Christian is a private K-12 school two miles outside Central City—a town of about 3,000 people. Ask a Central City resident if they know what Nebraska Christian is and they’ll say yes, but they probably won’t know precisely which direction to point you in to find it.
So when Dan Sanborn—Nebraska Christian’s industrial tech teacher turned digital media and graphic art teacher—was appointed to lead the school’s Giving Tuesday fundraising efforts, he knew the initiative needed to put Nebraska Christian on the map. It needed to resonate with community members and stakeholders, and show its impact on teachers, students, and families to inspire people to give toward the school’s mission.
Students As Storytellers
But with very little video production experience, virtually no equipment, and less than two months until Giving Tuesday, Dan had a challenge on his hands. Not to mention administration, teachers, and staff were in the throes of fall coursework and activities. A transformative thought, born of necessity, struck Dan: Who better to craft and tell the Nebraska Christian story than the students themselves?
Dan set to work mobilizing his 15-student multimedia team to produce a series of Giving Tuesday videos featuring people impacted by Nebraska Christian telling their powerful stories.
“When we started, we didn’t know what b-roll was, or how to capture background content, and what to do with the audio,” says Dan, who brought in a specialist to give the students a day-long crash course in video production. Then they hit the ground running.
“We figured out really quickly which students were gifted in which areas and let them run with it,” says Dan. “Some students were really great at video editing, others had a knack for capturing moments that worked well as b-roll. Two of our students were great in front of the camera, so they crafted and conducted the interviews. Two students weren’t interested in the tech of the project, but they were awesome with the storyboarding, creating the schedule for the interviews, and setting up calendars for the team. One of our students was even the file master for the whole project; she’d categorize the content on a daily basis so the team could find and access it.”
“We figured out really quickly which students were gifted in which areas and let them run with it.”
A Lasting Impact
Dan watched in awe as his students got downright scrappy–and grew increasingly invested in the project. With limited video production equipment and resources, they made connections and built relationships with local businesses, like 1to1 Technologies—a computer repair service in Central City—who were willing to lend or donate microphones, lighting, and cameras. And just like that, Dan’s multimedia team was amplifying student voices and telling stories that mattered to their school, inspiring stakeholders to donate to a mission they cared about, making lasting connections within their community, and building digital citizenship skills to boot. “Letting the kids follow their interests and giving them a focus is really what made it work,” he says.
Inspirational School Fundraising
When Giving Tuesday arrived, the student-created videos were released on the school’s Twitter and Facebook page via posts created in Class Intercom, where Nebraska Christian students and teachers collaborate, exchange feedback, and publish to the school’s social channels securely and seamlessly. Students, who are provided contributor permissions in the platform, can upload content in the drafts column where other students and teachers can collaborate. Then, with the click of a button, the content moves seamlessly to the pending column, where a moderator (a teacher or administrator with the permission to approve content) can approve and publish–or send it back to the creators with feedback and changes.
The videos did exactly what Dan knew they needed to do: tell the story of Nebraska Christian from the perspective of the people whose lives it so profoundly impacts. In doing so, the initiative inspired and touched the hearts of the people who watched them. From the school’s English & German teacher describing the tangible joy he feels as he drives on campus–to an international student who sees her dormmates as family–to a three-generation family whose grandparents and parents met at Nebraska Christian and whose children now attend–the heartfelt videos braided a story of family, integrity, and hope. “The students knew what they were doing was going to be seen by people–by their community,” says Dan, “so there was an accountability there that I couldn’t create in the classroom itself.”
“Honestly, I’ll forget what the dollar amount was later. The cool part is that it really helped kids engage in something that was purposeful for their school.”
In the end, the students’ Giving Tuesday video campaign raised $80,000 for Nebraska Christian Schools, and the funds went toward much-needed school updates, renovations, and expansion. The project’s on-the-ground experience even provided real-world opportunities for students; in fact, a member of the Nebraska Christian multimedia team was hired by the local movie theater, Fox Theater, to produce their commercials. For Dan, it was one of those collaborative and meaningful projects that makes him proud to be an educator. “Honestly, I’ll forget what the dollar amount was later,” he says. “The cool part is that it really helped the kids engage in something that was purposeful for their school.”
Interested in learning more about using technology to empower students and staff to leverage social media at your school? Click the button bellow to learn more about how Class Intercom can help.