This past spring, Staples students Jeremy Dreyfuss and Dustin Lowman were casting about for an interesting end-of-the-year senior internship.
Media production teacher Jim Honeycutt wanted something real, authentic and important for them.
Meanwhile, superintendent of schools Elliott Landon and director of human resources Marge Cion needed a video to show job candidates — potential teachers — what the Westport school district is all about.
It sounded like a great idea. But it turned out nothing like what the educators expected.
“I originally thought it would be a recruitment-type thing — very factual, not real personal,” Dr. Landon says.
That’s not what Jeremy and Dustin had in mind.
The longtime friends decided to revisit their old schools, and talk to former teachers.
They took their video camera to King’s Highway Elementary School and Coleytown Middle. There — and of course at Staples — they conducted interviews and shot film. They researched the schools and town, added special footage, and produced a professional-looking video that gives anyone considering teaching here a unique teenage/inside view of the system.
Which, now that the Westport educators think about it, is entirely the point.
“This really makes a memorable impression,” Dr. Landon notes. “Their personal insights and affection for the district really come across strongly. It’s very creative and different.”
In the video, Jeremy and Dustin say that they continue to visit former teachers. They add, “some of our deepest connections” were made in school.
They filmed a wide variety of teachers: men and women of different ages, backgrounds and subject matters.
The seniors asked questions like “How did you end up in Westport?” And, “What do kept you here?”
The answers — delivered in each teacher’s personal style — include concepts like “the environment,” “the experiences,” “the challenge,” “being in the forefront” and “learning from colleagues.”
And — over and over and over again — “the kids.”
Dr. Landon proudly posted the video on the district website’s human resources page.
Before clicking “play,” prospective teachers learn that students here are empowered to use their creativity.
Once they watch the 12-minute video, potential applicants are even more impressed.
“If someone is looking for an environment in which kids themselves say they had a fabulous experience — they loved their teachers, learned a lot and grew here — that will have a real positive impact on the type of people we’re trying to attract,” Dr. Landon says.
Who will then influence the next generations of Dustin Lowmans and Jeremy Dreyfusses, who in turn…