Written by Julianne Bass
Communication Professor Denise Matthews and the producer of the documentary, "Child Left Behind," Katelyn Forster, Class of 2010.
Willimantic - A team of Eastern Connecticut State University students have been named winners of the Best Student Documentary Short in the national Broadcast Educators Association Annual Media Festival Awards for 2011. The awards were presented to the students in Las Vegas in April.
Dan Young, Michelle Jarvis, Jason Wadecki and Estelle Crews worked on the film, "The Child Left Behind," during their Documentary Production class in fall 2009, with producer Katelyn Forster completing the project during her spring 2010 internship under the supervision of Communication Professor Denise Matthews. Education Professor Maureen Ruby inspired the idea for "The Child Left Behind" after she shared her story with the students.
Of the experience, production team member Jarvis said, "I was so surprised and excited that we had won. A lot of time was put into this project. It was such a rewarding experience. It really made me aware of the obstacles children with learning disabilities have to face."
The documentary tells the story of Putnam, CT, parents of middle school children with special needs who protested that their child had not been taught to read. This parental advocacy led the Putnam School District to hire Ruby, a reading specialist. "Not providing data-driven, evidence-based and differentiated instruction to children with disabilities may leave these students behind when it comes to reading skills," said Ruby. "This is particularly true for students with cognitive deficits." Ruby provided training to veteran Putnam middle school teacher Fran Bousquet, with remarkable results.
"The Broadcast Education Association's Media Festival is a very important production competition in our field," said Professor Matthews."This is a great validation of the quality of our production program by national standards. We have good equipment; a solid curriculum taught by Andrew Utterback and myself; technical support from Media Service's Paul Melmer; strong administrative support from Jamie Gómez Dean of Eastern's School of Arts and Sciences; and Rhona Free, vice president of academic affairs; and great students. We should all be very proud."