As you navigate your way to the Gothenburg Public Schools’ website, one thing will stick out to you right away; it’s the motto of, ‘Excellence is an Expectation’. As we spotlight Gothenburg in our first feature story of 2016 on our new Striv Stories blog, it will become clear, if it hasn’t already, that the staff, students and community believe in this motto and believe in themselves to make it oh so true indeed.
Gothenburg, Nebraska is a town of roughly 3500 people with 935 students K-12 in a class C-1 school. There are most definitely larger schools in Nebraska, but Gothenburg doesn’t let a slightly smaller size get in the way of giving their students, walking the halls, every opportunity to prepare them for the changing world around them when they walk out the doors at graduation. With a mission of; “Educating Students for a Better Tomorrow! …to prepare all students within a positive, innovative, learning environment to be lifelong learners for the 21st century”, Striv is honored to highlight Gothenburg and be a part of helping share the Gothenburg Swedes’ story!
Taylor sat down with Dan Jensen, teacher and sponsor for Striv to chat about how this first semester implementing Striv has been going. Before you get an idea in your head about the work load Dan carries or doesn’t carry, this may give you a better picture: Dan has been at the school approximately 20 years. His current title is Speech, Journalism, Yearbook & most recently the Broadcasting/Striv teacher. If you know school systems, titles do not restrict the to-do list. So, with numerous things on his plate, how and why did Dan decide to take on Striv? The answer is fairly simple: He believes in the school’s mission, he sees the ever changing communication and media world and wants to give the students opportunities that previously they may not have had in order to prepare them for the world they will face after high school.
Gothenburg did have a streaming service prior to adopting Striv. The old program was said to be a bit clunky and the live streaming done at that time would bring in a few viewers, possibly hit in the teens. This hardly seemed beneficial or a good use of time for the students putting in the effort in their opinion. Dan said that they are seeing viewers in the mid to upper 300’s now. His comment is, ‘Striv is simple.’ It’s easy for viewers who can not attend the event to hop on their computer or mobile device and catch it in real time or on-demand.
Dan also had foresight in the changing media world and modified a written news media class into a Broadcast class. This veteran teacher who has an efficient way of doing things said it, ‘took a step’ and although it may have been a bit scary, it was a ‘fantastic challenge’ to shake things up and is fun to see the excitement and enjoyment of it. The kids have bought in and seem to really like the play-by-play work for the games. It does take 3–4 students to get that up and going but they embrace it and accept the challenge.
Seniors, Chad Schmiett and Connor McCoy weighed in on their feelings of Striv. They both agreed that the hands-on nature of the classwork is unlike their other classes. They enjoy being able to get up from the classroom setting and work with the camera, computers, take on staff meetings and really get out there and have a work environment feel. The Striv classroom was described as something similar to a media ‘war room.’ They described the huge white board in which the baseline for the week is presented. Grades are based off of participation, showing up for evening games or the streamed event as well as leadership qualities.
Opportunities with the Striv work is beneficial for students interested in a media career or something down a different avenue. Connor is looking into pursuing Corporate Law and feels the communication and public speaking practice he gets through the class and announcing games will come in handy as he approaches his future endeavors.
Gothenburg’s Dan Jensen and his students seem to have embraced the idea of ‘sharing their school’s story’ with Striv. The final question asked to him was, ‘how can Striv help Gothenburg School better share their story?’ Dan told us simply that content is not the issue for them. The school obviously has plenty of story to share! He says communication is key, as always, as they work to get a system of communication within their school and its programs as well as communicating with their community and beyond through the streaming. They are constantly adapting and working to better their craft. Finally, training and webinars seem to be beneficial. As Dan told his students; ‘there are no experts.’ It’s about learning and creating and troubleshooting and growing. It’s about taking on responsibility and owning what you’re doing. It’s about ‘Expecting Excellence’…Gothenburg seems to get it! Thank you for letting us come and see how you share your story!
It’s not something we want to have happen, but when something goes wrong or if the internet isn’t working right, my phone is blowing up. People are watching and that’s a cool thing to have happen. You want everything to work right, but it’s nice to know that you have a following that is watching and that cares. — Dan Jensen
Interested in learning more about how your school can share their story with Striv? Go here.
Written by Jessica Siebert (StrivU Director)