We canvased the country with Office Depot to see how champion teachers do the most difficult, most important work.
"Would I want to be a student in my own classrom?"
-Dave Vixie, Paradise Adventist Academy
The conversation between education and funding isn’t an easy one. Office Depot teamed up with Adopt-A-Classroom to show what teachers can accomplish with community and financial support. Our task: to bring continuity to the voices of these teachers while embracing the variety within their teaching styles, curriculums, and physical environments. Our biggest challenge was cutting each video into just two or three minutes.
After talking to the teachers, we found that they all carried a common torch: each gives their students the tools they need to unlock learning for themselves. In the case of Brian Copes, those tools are literal. For David Vixie, it’s experience. Mary Kurt-Mason, the outdoors. Stephen Ritz uses farming; Chris Emdin, hip hop. Jeffrey Wright provides a listening ear and acts as a sounding board. Whatever the tool, these teachers help their students think outside the textbook, and we wanted viewers to feel that passion and spontaneity like they were right there in the classroom—or out of it.
BRIAN COPES carves a path for his students to pursue their own ideas and create real change in the world. Brian helped us fully adopted our theme: the tools teachers give their students allow them to succeed.
We could not have been more impressed with the openness, warmth, and sense of community that JEFFREY WRIGHT has created in his classroom. Just ask his students—education has as much to do with love as it does with the lab.
Whether it’s canoeing, skiing, or a tricky math problem, MARY KURT-MASON's goal is to give her special needs students the opportunity to find their own courage.
When it comes to science and hip hop, CHRIS EMDIN has a lot to say and a beautiful way of saying it. And so do his students. We love working on projects that unfold so naturally and carry their own weight—we just have to be there to find the moments. With Chris, everything was a moment.
STEPHEN RITZ's energy for working with kids is endless. And so is his passion for empowering kids to take healthy eating into their own hands, growing their own veggies right in the heart of the Bronx. He’d tell you himself that he’s the biggest sixth grader of them all.
DAVID VIXIE views his classroom as a mere launching pad. A place to grab supplies for the next great adventure. We were in the classroom, the barn, out in the fields with his mules, and up on a mountain to build snow caves. David sets his students loose, helping them turn education into a part of their story. Here we tell his.
After the series was wrapped, we found two more teachers whose stories had to be told – TERRY DOUGHERTY and MARK ROGERS. We partnered with Office Depot and Newell Rubbermaid this time to create a twist on the previous doc format for these two new all-star teachers:
As all the videos took shape, it was clear that the teachers were not only similar in their love for teaching, but in the deep appreciation and care that their students reciprocated. The biggest challenge was figuring out how to really whittle down the hundreds of things that all of the students were thankful for:
Nearly half a million collective Youtube views on these documentaries brought exposure and funding to eight hero teacher's classrooms, and others like them around the country. The success of this documentary campaign led to the creation of a parallel campaign for small business heroes around the country. But most importantly, these stories helped Office Depot reveal its deep support of a key demographic – teachers.