Lansing’s Peppermint Creek Theatre Company is releasing a 60-minute documentary Friday, featuring DeWitt High School parents, students and teachers.
The title: “Radical Acts of Education.”
“This documentary is focusing on how COVID has impacted education in the United States, and specifically with a focus on our community, specifically here in the Lansing area,” said founder and artistic director for Peppermint Creek, Chad Swan-Badgero.
Jeff Croley has been a teacher at DeWitt High School for 28 years, though he likes to consider himself more of a "talent developer." Croley teaches theater communications, and creative writing at DeWitt High School. Swan-Badgero asked him to be a part of the project about a year ago.
“A large portion is going to be from the educator and the point of view from those people who have been on the front lines and that had to adapt quickly and that have had to remind themselves that they’re never-ending learners and they have to be curious about new technologies and new ways to do things, adapt and just sort of accommodate to the unusual circumstances in the trying times that everybody’s had to deal with,” Croley said.
“We chose to focus on that because this entire season for Peppermint Creek, our theater, has been virtual and so as we were exploring ways in which we could still have a presence theatrically and what kind of stories could we tell virtually, education fits very squarely in our mission to address current issues,” Swan-Badgero said.
Bre Naderitz is a junior at DeWitt High School and was interviewed for the documentary.
“The documentary was asking about COVID, like what the impact was and what are you hopeful for the future. I said I was hopeful for the future as we all grow together," Naderitz said.
Swan-Badgero also brought in Jerry Jennings, his mentor and a supporter of the theater. Jennings is also a retired educator and former DeWitt superintendent, who was responsible for interviewing parents.
“What I found was, the fact that parents have been through a lot. It’s been a real growing experience – a real opportunity and challenge. I happen to talk with parents who really believe that it was valuable to go through,” Jennings said.
Swan-Badgero interviewed teachers and he said, “What we found is sort of what I think we expected to find. The field of education is not supported in the way that it should be, and yet people involved in education, and I include those three groups, teachers, students and parents are hugely resilient.”
“Another really cool point to this particular project is a girl by the name of Ashley Garcia," Croley said.
Garcia is a junior at DeWitt High School and one of Croley’s students who edited the documentary.
“We said, ‘Look – we can hire it out, I can work on it, Chad we can collectively work on it…you know, if it’s about school and education, just trust and give it to the student," Croley added.
"Mr. Croley…said ‘I have an opportunity for you,’ and then I was like, ‘Okay I’ll take it,’” Garcia said.
The documentary will be released on Peppermint Creek Theater’s YouTube page this Friday.
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