At a film premiere, the audience watches the screen, but the film’s producers watch the audience. As executive producer of the documentary Working Class: 100 Years of Hands-on Education, I had the pleasure of urging the film’s director, Chris Leigh, to turn around and enjoy a standing ovation at end of the film’s premiere screening in January 2015.


Welcoming audience to 2015 premiere of Working Class: 100 Years of Hands-On Education
Chris Leigh being interviewed by WVIA’s Chris Norton.

After the film’s public television debut, we continued to receive messages praising the production:

This was an astounding account of the history of the working man/woman…”

“We are very impressed and this should be an example to all schools.”

By the time the film was recognized with a 2015 Telly Award, it was clear we had started a new conversation about the public benefits of connecting education with real-world experience.

So Chris and I went to work again with our partners at WVIA Public Media. We developed a concept for a multi-faceted, public media initiative to celebrate learning that combines technology, career awareness, and hands-on activities for math, science, reading, and writing education.

wcOur new Working Class series will feature 60-minute public television broadcasts, as well as online video and resources for classroom and homeschooling activities that introduce students to potential careers. Plans are in the works to develop six episodes that focus on a broad range of interests:

  • Design (graphic, web and interactive, architectural, engineering and industrial)
  • Natural resources, energy and sustainability
  • Computers, electronics and information technology
  • Automotive, aviation, diesel and heavy equipment technologies
  • Engineering technologies, manufacturing and construction
  • Business, health, human and legal services
  • One year after our first standing ovation, we are proud to introduce the first episode in the new series. Working Class: Dream & Do will premiere on WVIA Public Media on Tuesday, January 26, at 7 p.m.

To join the conversation and encourage student learning through technology and hands-on activities, please follow Working Class on Facebook and Twitter.

Note: Penn College and WVIA previously co-produced an award-winning degrees that work public television series.  Teachers and parents who are using Penn College’s degrees that work.tv videos and lesson planning guides will continue to have access to these resources online.


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