By SECC correspondent Mitchel Benson
Center High’s Vernon Bisho Named 2017 Allan Hinderstein Award Winner for ‘Tireless’ Commitment to Students, Storytelling and ‘Power of Video’
Vernon Bisho is a traveling preacher of sorts.
Yes, it’s true he works at Center High School in Antelope, where he is a career technical education teacher for video and computer graphics and teaches in the school’s Media Communications Academy. But he also takes his evangelical zeal for teaching and learning on the road, espousing story telling and writing, video production and lighting, to elementary and middle schools throughout the Center Joint Unified School District and Sacramento County. And he is good at what he does.
In recognition of his commitment and his excellence, Bisho, 58, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Allan Hinderstein Award. It’s presented annually to a Sacramento area teacher who embraces and instills in students and colleagues the importance and value of media production. Hinderstein, a Sacramento State professor who passed away from cancer, was renowned for his appreciation of the importance and value of media production as a learning tool.
The Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC), which produces Sacramento’s Comcast channels 15 and 16, presented the award to Bisho on April 19, at the 28th annual Sacramento Educational Video Awards (SEVA) Night at Sacramento State’s Union Ballroom. The event honors the Sacramento region’s most talented student video producers and documentary makers. SECC co-sponsored this year’s event with Comcast and the Sacramento Metropolitan Cable Television Commission.
In presenting the award, teacher Erica Swift of Herman Leimbach Elementary School in South Sacramento – last year’s Hinderstein award winner – said Bisho “has shared the power of video with students of all ages.”
At Center High, Swift said, Bisho “has worked tirelessly to build an award-winning program where story structure and writing are the foundation of student video projects.”
She went on to say that Bisho in recent years has taken his teaching skills and passion – along with his high school students – on the road, partnering with teachers and preaching the storytelling and video-making gospel to elementary and middle school students. “It’s this spirit of sharing and collaboration,” Swift said, “that we celebrate tonight …”
Indeed, throughout the SEVA Night program – and in a video tribute to Bisho – students of all ages acknowledged and thanked Bisho for his assistance and support.
“It’s been awesome being able to work with him and have him help make my story even better than I thought I could do myself,” said Juliet Honsal, a student at Center High.
For his part, Bisho believes he and his colleagues play an important role that goes far beyond training the next generation of Steven Spielbergs and Kathryn Bigelows.
“What we do is important and valid for a lot of reasons,” Bisho said. “It’s really important for students to be able to communicate effectively using these tools. That is the essential part of the human condition – communicating – and now we’re using 21st century technology to serve our prehistoric needs of communicating. And that’s where the connect is.”
Bisho began teaching video production at Center High about 17 years ago, but it was eight years ago when he began thinking about broadening his reach and his message about artful storytelling. So he started with two weeklong video camps for elementary school students. “They were both so successful,” he said, “I knew I had to do something bigger than that.”
And so, Bisho’s traveling video education program was launched, eventually fanning out to North Country and Oak Hill elementary schools and Wilson C. Riles Middle School.
As for that initial crop of elementary school video campers? Most of the finalists recognized at this year’s SEVA Night actually attended one of those early video camps. That’s one sure measure, Bisho said, “of the success of those attempts to connect with young storytellers in the beginning.”