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AISD’s “The Secret Classroom” Nominated for Regional EMMY® Award

Posted Date: 09/28/2020

AISD’s “The Secret Classroom” Nominated for Regional EMMY® Award

September 28, 2020 – Amarillo ISD’s original, educational television program The Secret Classroom is a nominee for a Regional EMMY® Award from the Lone Star Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

AISD’s The Secret Classroom is a Regional EMMY® nominee in the programming category for “Children/Youth/Teen - Program/Special/Feature/Segment.”  The nomination in this category is “for excellence in a program, series or special that covers issues of specific interest to a target audience 19 years of age and under,” according to the Lone Star Chapter website. Lone Star EMMY represents the most experienced and talented television professionals from all disciplines of the industry and from all of Texas’ 19 television markets, the website states.

The Secret Classroom is part of AISD’s In Sync program to partner with parents in the education of young learners. Created solely by AISD, The Secret Classroom is a magical hour of educational entertainment for kids and their busy parents, with lessons presented by AISD teachers.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic hit and our school buildings closed, families in our community started struggling in a variety of ways. It became evident that even with all the different efforts to support students and families during such an unprecedented time, something was still missing. It was that calming, comforting personal touch that comes from teachers standing in front of their classroom and teaching essential knowledge and skills,” said Holly Shelton, AISD Communications Program Director.  “The Secret Classroom provided a way to connect with students while offering their busy parents an hour to take a phone call, get some work done or just have some time to themselves, while knowing their child is watching a top notch educational program and learning from it.”

Six episodes of The Secret Classroom aired in May on KFDA-NewsChannel 10 Too (Gray Television, Inc), and were livestreamed at and on social media. Along with providing an educational opportunity for AISD’s 32,000 students, because The Secret Classroom aired on television and was livestreamed online, it could be watched by schoolchildren across the tri-state viewing area. 

Each episode aligned with Texas school curriculum and featured similar lessons in math, science, writing and literacy that children would have experienced in the classroom. From start to finish, The Secret Classroom was written, produced, directed and edited by AISD’s Communications Department staff, with content developed by AISD educators in the District’s Curriculum department, and by the teachers who brought their classroom lessons to life on TV.

“Our communications team worked with some gifted teachers and curriculum specialists to develop a program which would engage children with interactive opportunities like science experiments they could safely conduct themselves using items readily available at home and writing prompts to spark imagination and creativity in a time of isolation,” said Shelton.

“If you’ve been in a modern elementary school, you know the classrooms can look like a setting straight from a storybook, so we were able to use a few of our existing classrooms to craft a set to match our magical theme,” she continued.

Amarillo ISD 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. Amarillo ISD 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 Jenny Morgan is the show’s host.

The 2020 Lone Star Regional EMMY® nominees and recipients will be honored in a virtual awards show at a date to be announced.