Amarillo ISD wins Emmy Award for The Secret Classroom

The Secret Classroom, an original educational television series created and produced entirely by Amarillo ISD staff to reach children and families during the coronavirus pandemic, has earned a Regional Emmy® Award in the programming category for Children/Youth/Teen - Program/Special/Feature/Segment.

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.

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

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 Secret Classroom premiered on May 5, 2020, on the local TV station KFDA-NewsChannel 10 Too (Gray Television, Inc). All six episodes of the program were available for viewing on TV with an antenna or cable and were live-streamed at and on social media. Each episode aligned with Texas school curriculum and featured 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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