There’s something about a great idea – when it’s right, it takes off and blossoms. For Don Wettrick, that’s exactly how the Franklin Film Festival came about. “I started the festival to showcase what my students could do,” says Wettrick. “I formed a partnership with a local, historic theater that would show our films to the community over two nights. Because I didn’t want a music video and slasher movie festival, I chose the documentary format. This allowed my students research, write and shoot video, and connect with the community in which they live.”
Students produced works about the national health care crisis, homelessness in Indianapolis, and a designer of prosthetics for war veterans injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, to name just a few. “My only regret is that we only have enough time to show the top fifteen films (and had more than forty entries last year),” says Wettrick.
These impressive outcomes have been the result of hard work…and being creative under budget constraints. But Wettrick doesn’t believe throwing money at a problem is the solution. In fact, he thinks quite the opposite – “constraints lead to creativity.”
Wettrick also believes that education can be transformed when teachers can connect with a students’ passion and tap into it. “‘What do they already love to do?’, is what I first ask myself. If I can combine what a student is already passionate about, and couple it with what they need to learn, then I am really on to something. Then, if I am really lucky, I can display the students’ passion to the rest of the community; and when I do that, I have transformed not only that student, but the perception of public education.”
Don has more insights on what makes his classroom work – and ideas that can help every teacher. Take a look:
About Don Wettrick
Television broadcast and documentary filmmaking teacher, Franklin High School, Franklin, Indiana, USA
Don Wettrick has been teaching for fourteen years, and loves it. Four years ago, Don went from teaching middle school language arts to teaching high school television broadcasting and documentary filmmaking. Each year is different, and Wettrick is always amazed at what his students can produce.
Current residence: Greenwood, Indiana, USA
Education: B.S. in Education, Indiana University, B.S. in Journalism, Ball State University
Website I check each day: MSN headlines, MSN Money, email account, and Facebook
Person who inspires me most: My father, who was also a teacher
Favorite childhood memory: Long summer vacations (again, dad was a teacher and my mom was a professional stay-at-home mom) and seeing America by pop-up trailer
Next travel: Los Angeles, for a field trip
Favorite book: Brain Rules, Dr. John Medina
Favorite type of music: Anything from the 80s… such happy times