Rarely does a TV program suck me in, get me emotionally tied to it and then leave me in a sobbing mess on the edge of my couch when the credits start rolling. NBC’s School Pride did exactly that. In a good way of course.
I was flipping through channels last night and came across the show that was featuring Detroit’s Communication & Media Arts (CMA) High School. Unfortunately, like many schools around the US, the CMA was in shambles and was being set to close as the facilities were deemed unsafe for students and teachers.
The School Pride crew rolled into Detroit, ready to make a difference. This show is like Extreme Makeover, but instead of focusing on houses, they are working on schools. It is wholly cosmetic* as their goal is to take a school in dire need of repairs and fix it. They will repair leaking windows and broken doors. They will provide new paint and carpet. They will replace desks and provide equipment in the computer labs. Basically, if it can be fixed with a hammer and/or money, they will handle it. And I think this is awesome.
The best part is they are engaging the local community of students, teachers, parents and the school administration to work through these changes. Together. To develop pride of ownership. School pride.
With all the cosmetic good the show provides, it bums me out to read some of the negative reviews around the product placement. My thought is if Walmart wants to donate three TVs to the communications lab so they have better equipment to view their video work on, I will accept having to watch 5 seconds of people walking through the electronics department in Walmart. No biggie. If IKEA wants to provide new desks for a classroom in exchange for a mention, fine. The fact of the matter is people are getting so caught up in the amount of product placement that they have lost sight around the value of the donations and their effect on the school. While it would be great to have a donor give without needing recognition, some do. We should not fault them for it. These donations cost someone money. Desks are not cheap. Neither are computers or TVs. Let’s cut them a little slack and be thankful someone is willing to provide product to these schools in need. If they ask for a little media attention in exchange for it, so be it.
I will say the program hit a nerve, and launched a deep sense of need in me to help. Through Social Media Club’s #smcedu program, we are working to bring technology and learnings into Universities and Colleges, but I want to do more. I need to do more. I would love to find a way to bridge these two programs – School Pride and #smcedu to help students get the learnings they need to prep them for the real world of today and have a safe place to learn in.
I am also not adverse to picking up a hammer and helping with the infrastructure as needed. So here I am Jacob. Put me to work. What can I do?
* And once the schools are safe to learn in, we can then launch a new show that will focus on bettering the actual education piece…which is a whole other subject I need to delve into.