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The Interview Process

The basis of the storytelling we do revolves very closely around the interviews we perform. Sometimes these are done via Zoom, although we frequently conduct our interviews on-site, in order to combine the photography of your story subjects with the interview visit. Depending upon your subjects' availability and the timing of your issue determines which method we use. In either case, you may find it interesting to listen-in on some of these interviews presented here across a range of subject types. Most student interviews last between 15-20 minutes, however, occasionally go longer—or shorter. Most adult subjects tend to range from 20-30 minutes. Also, all of your interviews are recorded and archived, whether the interview is conducted via Zoom (audio and video) or on-site (audio only), so that if you ever have need to review the interview, that resource will be made available to you.

This is a dual interview with two high school students who shared a particular experience around which the story is built. The high school principal, Beth Probst, selected these students because they helped showcase a number of strengths within the Jasper County School system and because the students, themselves, have compelling backstories that will serve to inspire others. Every school has those kinds of stories, but they are seldom told publicly at this depth, or across so many representational cross-sections of the student body or school community.

This is an interview with a 4th grader in a K-8 District in Ottawa, Illinois. The subject had been selected because of an act of generosity she had performed with a friend. Her building Principal joined her for the interview, although that is not typical. Usually these interviews are conducted in a space set aside from external distractions and, when on Zoom, a teacher, administrator, or aide will occasionally be in the room, but does not typically participate in the interview. Of course, it is perfectly fine if they choose to.

Teacher interviews are fascinating because we get a glimpse of the people behind the role. Yes, we talk with them about the specifics of their classroom work, but we also invite them to share aspects of their lives outside of the classroom that serve to to humanize and broaden the profile of these most important people who interact with our community's children every school day. Very often, we find deeply moving stories behind a teacher's motivation to enter the field, or an inspiring tale of overcoming some perceived limitation early in life. This teacher, Mr. Brandtner, nearly lost his life as a teenager in a horrific fall from a 125 foot cliff, and it re-ordered many of the priorities in his life.

Inclusion of stories from the community have real value, and very often those already serving on your board have some of the best perspectives on the nexus between school and community. Such is the case here. Often, our interviews with adult subjects from the community lend to a particular area of interest or emphasis, but we still want to share that individual's larger, personified story. Readers will always take greater interest in a story about 'stuff' when it is presented through the perspective of an individual. We're just wired to connect, person-to-person, and we live much of our life through shared stories.

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