Colonial Intermediate Unit 20: Myth-busting Video Shows the Care in Alternative Education

As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. And a video? The effect can be priceless, especially if it refutes stubborn myths that have long blocked children from their best educational options.

Colonial IU 20 learned the power of imagery with an imaginative video showcasing Colonial Academy and its power to restore troubled students to academic progress. Colonial Academy is IU 20’s alternative education option, and in focus groups and outreach to school district superintendents, IU staff learned that parents often resisted sending their children there.

“We have tough kids, there’s no doubt, but districts asked if there was something we could do to show that this is a really good place that has made a difference in kids’ lives – that it has supportive staff in a state-of-the-art building,” says Assistant to the Executive Director for Student Services Chris Wolfel.

Sharing that message has always been a challenge. Many families don’t have time to attend open houses, and brochures can’t capture the school’s dynamic spirit. Today’s media consumers expect moving images that tell a story, so IU 20 delivered, with a high-quality, professionally produced video spotlighting school faculty and the students reached with individualized learning (http://www.ciu20.org/domain/116).

In the video, students are seen rock climbing, studying STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) in the classroom, and planting an heirloom garden. In one scene, students strap on harnesses and pull a fire truck past a goal line (with help from a couple of hefty adults).

The video shows that “kids have to push themselves in a different way,” Wolfel says. When they succeed, faculty can say to students, “Look what you did, and look how much energy and focus you put into that. If you can do that, you can accomplish anything.”

Students share their stories of personal growth, while staffers show their genuine concern for students. The video delivers its message in six minutes, assuring worried families that the right school at the right time can turn a child around.

“It’s a way to let the families know it’s going to be okay,” says Wolfel. “We’re here, and we’re willing to work with you. We give the families hope that it can turn out all right. It can get better.”
 

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