by Julie Dodd
JEA Mentoring Committee co-chair

Harry Potter is providing high school media teachers with a brillant way of helping promote their journalism programs and recruit potential students.

The Today Show and NBC Universal recently announced a contest for teachers to explain “Why my class is extraordinary.”

The winner of the contest will win a three-day, two-night trip to Universal Studios to the opening festivities of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando.

All of us who are teachng (or have taught) high school media classes know that media classes are extraordinary. Students have extraordinary learning experiences — working with a team to create a real product, learning and applying technology skills, learning about budgeting for publications, learning to conduct interviews, learning about First Amendment rights…and more.

Only current teachers of students ages 5 to 18 in U.S. schools are eligible to compete. So those of us who aren’t currently teaching high school media classes ourselves but who are mentoring high school media teachers may want to let our mentees know about the contest.

The contest opened on Feb. 3, and the deadline to submit entries is March 19 at 5 p.m.

To enter, the teacher create a video (no longer than three minutes in length) in which the teacher explains “Why my class is extraordinary.”

All music, photos and images used in the video must be original. Complete contest rules are available on The Today Show web site.

I can see an eager staff helping the teacher create the video. Even if only one teacher wins the trip to Hogwarts at Universial Studios, everyone (teachers and students) creating videos would have more fun than eating a box of Harry Potter chocolate frogs.

The journalism teacher who creates a competition video can use it in recruiting students for his or her house…I mean publication staff.

What fun it would be to see all the videos that are created by media programs.

So here’s another addition to our list of recruiting strategies for journalism teachers.

And as they say at Hogwarts, “Wands at the ready” as teachers and students get ready to conjure up videos that captures the magic of journalism classes.

If you know of an adviser who is creating a video to enter into the Harry Potter contest, please let me know.