COMM alumnus educating, motivating H.S. media production students

Kevin-patterson-500Kevin Patterson may not look much older than his students at Oviedo High School, but the experience he acquired as a graduate of Florida State University’s media production program certainly sets him apart as a knowledgeable teacher.

After earning his bachelor’s degree from the School of Communication in 2011, Patterson switched roles from student to teacher of a subject he’s had a longtime passion for – television production — at a high school in Seminole County.

But once he was standing at the front of the classroom, Patterson realized how difficult teaching could be, especially in such a specialized field.

“I had experience in TV production dating back to when I was in elementary school, but teaching can be very difficult,” Patterson said.  “It’s especially difficult when you’re the only one at your school that teaches your subject. It’s referred to as a ‘singleton.’ Despite the awesome administrative team, there’s no one else at my school to turn to and really ask for help on a lot of the things I do.  There wasn’t really an overall countywide network to turn to either.  There was some technical support through our district, but as far as my curriculum was concerned, I was on my own.”

Patterson grew up in Polk County, where there was a department dedicated to school television production and an annual awards program that has been in existence for 22 years.  In hopes of replicating this structure in Seminole County, Patterson took the initiative and started a network and competition last year.

“I knew after my first year I wanted to start up a system like that in Seminole County that brings together the community,” Patterson said.  “I felt like all the TV production teachers were all doing their own thing and I really wanted to bring us together so we could network ourselves, but also to allow our students to see what others are doing at the different schools.  I also wanted to set up a competition so the students could test their skills and test their knowledge against each other.”

The idea resulted in the Seminole County School Television Awards, a district-wide program that recognizes middle and high school students in the areas of broadcasting, film and video production. In just two years, participation in the program increased by 80 percent and attendance of the awards ceremony quadrupled.

Patterson coordinates collecting the entries, secures judges (including some Florida State media production and film school alumni) and organizes a fun awards ceremony to make the students feel special.

“Elective and extracurricular activities are just like sports – you’ve got to put your skills to the test,” Patterson said.  “If the result isn’t what you wanted, you learn from it and improve for the future.”

While Patterson’s interest in television production piqued years ago, it was not until he arrived at Florida State that he realized all the details that went into producing a show.

“I worked a lot on my creativity in grade and high school, but when I look back I really had no idea about the formal structure and terms that go into a production,” Patterson said.  “Being able to work with a reporter and assemble a feature, I was able to learn dynamics between a photographer and reporter, and teach my kids how to do that because we have a daily news show for the school.”

Patterson credits Florida State with giving him a solid foundation in the subject, including the newest technologies, which can pass on to his students.

“I’m able to teach the students the structure of a reporting feature, what you’re looking for in an interview, how to properly conduct an interview and the stages of editing.”

In addition to teaching and directing the Seminole County School TV Awards, Patterson also serves as the district co-director for the Florida Scholastic Press Association, a statewide organization of student publications, online media teams and broadcast programs.

“I’m trying to help not only my program and my district, but also working with FSPA and help programs throughout the state by facilitating the opportunities they have through the FSPA,” Patterson said.

Interested in where a degree in media production from Florida State can lead you?  Learn more on our website.