From the moment you walk into the Video Production class at the Porter County Career Center, you’ll see that this is a program that is built on over a decade of award-quality work. Lining the walls of the class room is award upon award, highlighting the efforts of the students who have put their all into their work.
At the heart of this classes success is its teacher, Bob Phelps, a twelve-year veteran of program who knows what it takes to reach the level of recognition the class has.
“It takes having good content,” explained Phelps. “When there is twenty categories and you only enter three or four videos in them, it gets competitive. Luckily though my students produce a ton of really good stuff so that helps.”
That content includes all forms of video and audio production, from music videos to new packages. With that level of diversity, comes a host of different technologies-which is one of the main reasons that drives Phelps.
“The technology is always changing, and as we improve our technology it give me new things to teach the students to make sure they’re prepared for the most up to date tech when they graduate and head out into the real world to look for careers," Phelps said.
But it’s not just the tech that inspires Phelps to return to the program year after year, it’s also the students and the impact the work has on them.
“Students come into my class and realize this is a potential career, it’s not just a fun thing to do with equipment." he said. "They mature a lot in my class because they have to talk to people in the community, they have to conduct interviews and turn around stories quickly, which makes them more responsible and more prepared to graduate high school.”
And it’s that high level of work that Phelps pushes for that helps the class gain the type of recognition it has, winning Television School of the Year award from the IASB for the fourth time this year. The students too have seen major success with many of them taking home prizes in several categories at this years IASB ceremony.
Two students in particular, Tyree Jakes and Haynen Johnson, came in first and second respectively in their categories. Jakes entered a television package on Valparaiso's 1944 homecoming queen returning for last year homecoming game, and Haynen won for a in-depth video on the Dunes Apple Festival.
Both students are in their second year of the program and have gained several new interests from their time there.
“I’ve really gained an interest in documentary filmmaking,” said Jakes. “I like to travel and meet new people and help them tell their stories to highlight what they’re going through.”
Johnson also gained a new insight into fields he hadn’t even considered before joining the program.
“I wasn’t to into video making or news broadcasting at first, but since being here I find it all extremely fascinating,” explained Johnson. “I never realized that the stuff I watched on YouTube correlated to the stuff we do here and that I could do it myself.”
The students credit Phelps for helping them find out about these new interest, as well as inspiring them to go further in their passion for multi-media.
“Mr. Phelps is more than a teacher, he’s like a mentor or a father figure. He looks out for us and he super knowledgeable. He’s always willing to help us out and puts so much into this class, more than any teacher I’ve ever had,” said Jakes.
No matter the project, the students of Phelps’ class are equipped and ready to tackle it with quality and creativity. For those interested in the class or other Porter County Career Center classes, they can visit their website for more info.