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Chandler Woods Launches TV Talk Show to Engage Students and Staff

Live from Chandler Woods Charter Academy, it’s the C.W. Morning Show! Two West Michigan teachers are channeling their inner “Anchor Man” to bring news and a sense of normalcy back to their school community.
The C.W. Morning Show is a newly created program, in television talk-show-style format, at Chandler Woods, which aims to celebrate things that are normally shared through assemblies. The show airs three episodes per month, personalized for each grade-level wing.

“Since we are not able to have assemblies, we wanted to create something that could mimic the monthly celebrations to make sure we maintain our Moral Focus, recognize our Star Students, and celebrate birthdays,” said Brad Becker, achievement and behavior specialist at Chandler Woods.

Becker, who has been with National Heritage Academies (NHA) for eight years, is the primary host of the show and one of two creators behind the concept. Tim Rodriguez, art teacher at Chandler Woods has been with NHA for six years, is the other co-creator and primary director and videographer for the show.

“During the pandemic, we are in the virtual world,” said Rodriguez. “I like to set the bar high and I didn’t want to do the standard, I wanted to give the show something more. I always think of the audience, the kids, parents, teachers, and administration. I want them to be entertained. I think this is something to keep them engaged and sets the bar way high.”

Each month the C.W. Morning Show features a different classroom and teacher from each wing, as was the tradition at the school’s assemblies. These features offer a glance inside the classroom and an opportunity for teachers and students to get involved in the process.

The featured class spotlights the Moral Focus virtue of the month and will rotate to include teachers throughout the school. Additionally, the C.W. Morning Show will also run a recurring segment that features support staff, administrators, and specials teachers, providing the chance to feature those beyond classroom teachers.

One obstacle both co-creators continue to think through is how to ensure their audience finds the content fresh and engaging. “We are focused on getting students involved and telling jokes,” said Becker. “Exploring how to make it fun and entertaining while also figuring out how to keep the show fresh.”

Becker and Rodriguez shared the advice that Principal Joe Hammond offered his staff, which serves as motivation for them to continue this project: “Any sense of normalcy is very important right now.” He elaborated that the show allows students to see teachers’ faces without masks on and that learning while wearing a mask is a transition.

“It’s an unconventional time to be an educator,” said Rodriguez. “There has been a lot of negativity surrounding virtual teaching. This is a different way to do it and to adapt to how things are right now. It’s important to modify and adapt, and this offers one more way to do it.”

The first C.W. Morning Show aired at the school last month, with the intention that episodes will air in the morning for the first 20 minutes of the school day. One new advantage that this program offers is it allows families the chance to tune in as well. They have the opportunity to tune in for the live broadcast in the morning, or to view the program online.

“Everyone needs something to lift us up,” said Becker. “Since we can’t be together in large groups in assemblies, you find out how much you miss them. The idea is to come together and to know that we are connecting with thousands of people who get to see it. The fact that we can all essentially come together and share in that. It feels really good. It is powerful for our community.”

The co-creators both feel that this is an important addition to the school day, and it has been received well so far.

“I was hanging up artwork in the morning, and I could hear the show,” reflected Rodriguez. “The feedback was incredible. I felt like it made a difference in people’s mindsets. You want to keep morale up. These are trying times so it’s important to keep morale alive.”