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:

6 thoughts on “Documentary on Loudoun Student Wins Hearts, and an Award

  • 2016-07-10 at 6:33 pm

    As the Principal in “Uncle Buck” said about Maisy, “She (Jose) doesn’t take her career as a student seriously!”. Uncle Buck then went on to scold the Principal that he didn’t want to know a 6-year old who wasn’t a dreamer, took their like too seriously at that age, etc.

  • 2016-07-11 at 11:20 pm

    So what did the actual engineer tell Jose? Math, math, math for engineering but also to open up a lot of doors.

    What did the elementary teacher tell Jose about becoming an engineer? He would need a little bit of math (add and subtract) but let’s get to work on writing and drawing. Textbook answer from a liberal arts major who probably hated math herself.

    Who is going to save these kids when they get to middle school without having been taught math concepts? Certainly not LCPS. These videos are just propaganda videos for LCPS officials who want to get adult awards. Having Jose work with the engineer likely helped motivate Jose. But these videos are clearly designed for adult kudos, not for kids.

    • 2016-07-12 at 12:32 pm

      Bug out, Brian. This article highlights a positive moment in the schools. You do not need to turn everything into a negative. We know you despise the schools and that you could do a so much better job running them, starting with hiring your summer league teachers and eliminating everything other than math and science all while implementing parental controls on teacher pay. For now, could you simply celebrate something good?

      • 2016-07-12 at 2:00 pm

        CareerSwitcher, internships are good.

        Take a kid to work day – good.

        Show kids how math is applied in the real world – good. (or for that matter, logic or writing)

        What’s not good? Pretending that video represents any kind of plan or program to show kids how skills they learn in class are used in the real world. They saw a photogenic child and said “let’s use him to further our careers and our profiles”. That’s what happened. If you think they cared about this kid more than their media coverage, then let’s put them in a polygraph… I’m paying for it.

        Look at the video. The teachers dismisses math as being to “add and subtract” but then tells Jose about how much engineers must write. Writing skills are great but come on, the real engineer didn’t stress writing. He stressed what skills engineers need… math!

        And that’s the problem. Supt Williams thinks everything will be solved if he can get 10K’s of kids to make videos. Why surely some of those will be good and the liberal arts major Supt can get great press. Instead, he doesn’t hire skilled math teachers who can convey how important it is and the fundamental concepts. Jose has ZERO chance to become an engineer if he has ineffective math teachers.

        • 2016-07-12 at 2:34 pm

          The kid is 9, SGP. For all we know, he will change his mind and want to be a teacher, lawyer, painter, or even an over paid project manager when he grows up.

          Not everything is a battle in the schools and you definitely are not an authority on education. Your AM friends might worship you but not the rest of us

          • 2016-07-12 at 4:06 pm

            CareerSwitcher we have no idea what he wants to be, that is true. If he wants to have few job prospects, he can go to college and get an art or history major. If he wants to get a STEM job, a medical job, a finance job, a legal job, or many other areas, he better learn math.

            Your comment clearly shows what the Supt and Wayde Byard’s intentions were. They weren’t trying to establish a program or improve the schools. They were trying to get press and the local newspapers bought it hook, line and sinker. You are upset because LCPS is shown to be manipulative and exploitative of this little kid. That’s all many of LCPS’ administrators are these days…. “exec producers” looking for the next PR opportunity. There are some with their heads down working to improve the system. But I’m not sure they are getting much help.

            But I agree Jose might want to be a lawyer. He should come watch Hornberger, Rose, Byard, Fox and the rest of the gang testify under oath in a federal courtroom about censorship and a host of federal violations. Did you see that a federal judge denied LCSB’s attempts to get my counts dismissed? LCSB lost on every single charge. Maybe if LCPS wouldn’t retaliate against these local newspapers, they might be inclined to run a story on it.

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