It seemed like a regular school day for Dan Monfre’s study hall section at Ronald Reagan High School. Students sat in their pupil desks, some slouching, tapping their pencils, turning the pages of their textbooks and perhaps studying for a test they had next hour.
Little did they know, the camera crew from PBS’s Idea Channel was hiding in the school’s library waiting to surprise them. Mike Rugnetta, the web series host they had been watching all year long had traveled all the way from New York just for this visit.
Early in the year, Mr. Monfre decided to use part of his student’s study hall time to discuss video clips from the popular PBS Idea channel, a weekly web series that examines the evolving relationship between pop culture, modern technology and art.
His students were so interested in the videos that they began sending their comments and questions. They were excited when their class was actually mentioned in one of the videos, and continued to send their thoughts and insights. They soon became some of the most active viewers, and PBS decided they had to meet these inquisitive kids who had become such a regular part of the program.
When the camera crew entered the classroom, there was an audible gasp of excitement and the students couldn’t believe who they saw. The animated host was standing right there in their classroom and the cameras were on them. The students had a chance to ask him any questions they wanted, and he had some questions for them as well. They laughed, took pictures and discussed their favorite topics. Students couldn’t believe that the crew had flown across the country just meet them, and the visit inspired them to continue being curious learners and active participants in their world.
The visit is an example of the learning that can occur when classrooms are collaborative and dynamic, and when teachers go the extra mile.
PBS documented their visit to Milwaukee with a fast-paced, engaging video that highlights the best of our city and Milwaukee Public Schools. You can watch it here.