Amarillo ISD’s The Secret Classroom wins Emmy Award

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – ‘The Secret Classroom’, an original education television series created and produced by Amarillo ISD staff to reach children and families during the coronavirus pandemic, has been reported by the District to have earned a Regional Emmy Award in the programming category for Children/Youth/Teen – Program/Special Feature/Segment.

The District said Lone Star Emmy Awards are presented annually by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Texas Chapter. Lone Star Emmys recognize the top broadcast productions and the most experienced and talented television professionals from all disciplines of the industry in Texas’ 19 television markets.

A creative solution deployed by the District to help answer the challenges created for schools and families during the coronavirus pandemic, ‘The Secret Classroom’ is claimed as part of AISD’s family engagement effort known as InSync, which aims to partner with parents in education.

The District said that as school buildings were forced to close last spring, reaching the youngest students whose only experience with school was going to a classroom with a teacher was a concern. AISD’s communications department met virtually with teachers and curriculum specialists as they all worked remotely from their homes to develop a one-hour program that would connect students with a familiar face, deliver similar lessons which students would have been receiving in the classroom and be available for viewing regardless of access to devices or WiFi.

“I had asked the communications  team how we were going to get classrooms into living rooms. ‘The Secret Classroom’ is what they came up with,” said Superintendent Doug Loomis. “And these teachers were phenomenal. We filmed at Bivins Elementary and it was so great to see their bright, shining faces go to work during what was a difficult time for everyone.”

The show premiered on May 5, 2020, and aligned each episode with Texas school curriculum featuring lessons in math, science, writing, and literacy.

Staff who contributed to the development and production of ‘The Secret Classroom’ are, from AISD’s Communications Department April Brownlee, Blake Cartrite, Kyler Kuykendall and Holly Shelton. Educators who provided curriculum guidance include Ernie Cox, Brittany Hinz, and Samantha Holder. Teachers Shelbi Adams, Kelli Glass, Mary Jane Lopez and Tricia McSwain deliver lessons on ‘The Secret Classroom’ and teacher Jenny Morgan is the show’s host.

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