Documentary on Loudoun Student Wins Hearts, and an Award

“School is not my thing.”

That’s what 9-year-old Jose Crespin told Loudoun schools’ Superintendent Eric Williams when he was asked for his take on education.

That conversation inspired a three-part video series that followed the Hamilton Elementary student throughout his fourth grade year of school. The first installment of the series, called “School Is Not My Thing,” won an Award of Excellence from the National School Public Relations Association.

But the school system videographers who shot the series, Anthony Cusumano and Laura Wen, said, what’s more, is the process of shooting the films also helped Jose become more engaged in school, and they hope the series will ignite a passion for education in other students.

The idea to make the film series came about when the videographers, Superintendent Williams and Public Information Officer Wayde Byard, gathered for lunch at the White Palace in Purcellville. Jose, whose parents run the restaurant, seated them. When Williams asked Jose where he goes to school and what he likes about it, the boy responded, “School is not my thing.”

“We all cracked up that he was willing to say that in front of the superintendent,” Cusumano said. “Wayde said ‘We need to do something with this kid. Let’s see, over the course of the year, if we can get him to like school.’”

In the first video, which was shot at the start of the 2015-2016 school year, Jose says that he loves video games and skateboarding, but school? Not so much. “I don’t like how you have to do it daily, for like 18 years of your life,” he said.

In the third video, shot in May, Jose—who wants to be an engineer—tours the construction site of Madison’s Trust Elementary with Director of Construction Gary Van Alstyne. Van Alstyne explains to him how math is the foundation of engineers’ work. Jose agreed to keep working on his math because, as he said, “an engineer has to do what he has to do.”

Cusumano enjoyed watching Jose’s natural progression throughout the school year, and said he thinks other kids will be able to relate to his story.

“He became more open to school,” Cusumano said. “He didn’t completely shift from hating school to now he loves it, but he seemed more willing to accept that there are things he doesn’t care for but he knows why he’s doing them; he understands that there’s a purpose.”

The film’s Award of Excellence will be presented at a conference July 17-20 in Chicago. An excerpt from the video will be played for school public relations professionals attending that event.

Watch the films:
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3: