BY CARMEN SIERING
The students in Jeffrey Rudkin’s classes at Batchelor Middle School may not be old enough to vote, but they are old enough to recognize bad form when they see it, so they recently produced a video titled Political Civility. Another short film produced in Rudkin’s B-TV class, Stand Up, is about bullying.
“We are constantly looking for ways that middle school kids can help to repair the world,” Rudkin states on the B-TV webpage. “I try to get students to do a combination of documentaries, PSAs (public service announcements), and original dramas to teach the concepts of respect, forgiveness, never giving up, helping those in need, and standing up for what is right.”
Rudkin, 56, has been teaching at Batchelor for 25 years. For most of those years he’s been teaching video production. The class is officially a business course, but it’s better known as B-TV. Rudkin says his students have produced thousands of videos and won more than 600 awards over the past two decades; they won their first national award in 2001.
Students in Rudkin’s classes write scripts, act, film, and edit their own original video productions. There is also a group that produces a weekly newscast. But Rudkin says they’re really learning a lot more than that. “Shy kids come out of their shells because we put them in front of the camera,” he says. “And I’ve steered kids who might not have been thinking about going to college into college. I’ve seen that happen several times.”
There are also opportunities for students to travel. Rudkin has escorted groups to Poland, England, Ireland, Wales, France, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji, as well as across the United States, from New York City to California and Hawaii.
Some students go on to develop careers using the skills they first learned at Batchelor. “Quite a few are in the business,” Rudkin says. “I’ve had the opportunity to teach some outstanding students over the years.”
Those students stay in touch. “I teach more than 200 kids each year, and I’ve done it for more than 20 years,” Rudkin says. “So I go to a lot of graduation parties in the spring. I go to weddings. I get notes and letters.”
And even though “it’s a constant race to see if I can keep up with the technology,” Rudkin has no plans to quit B-TV.
“It’s cost me a lot of pizza over the years, and a lot of weekends and late nights, but it’s worth it,” he says.
For more information on B-TV, visit magbloom.com/b-tv. To see B-TV videos, visit YouTube and search for BatchelorTelevision.