The SEVA Teacher community is all about bringing people together and making connections, but sometimes teachers come into the group with their own. This is the case for Jeff and Joann Darrow who are incredible SEVA teachers in the San Juan Unified School District and who are also married. For a Valentine’s Day special, SECC interviewed them to share more about how their partnership in life turned into a mutual passion for teaching media.
The Darrows have a long history with the SEVA program. Mr. Darrow first got his middle school students involved in the SEVA program over 10 years ago. One Award Night he brought Mrs. Darrow along, and she instantly recognized the value her elementary students could gain from utilizing media as well. Mrs. Darrow credits her husband with being very supportive and helpful in getting her going with the SEVAs. While Mr. Darrow taught media to his middle school students, Mrs. Darrow took on the challenge of weaving media production and the SEVAs right in to her normal 5th grade classroom. The couple has learned and grown from each other’s failures and successes in their own avenues of teaching media, while never feeling the need to compete.
Their shared interest in teaching sparked an even bigger flame when they both became more involved in the SEVA program. Mr. Darrow stated that attending the SEVA Teacher Workshop last summer with his wife was one of his favorite summer memories, saying he especially appreciates “the fact that we are in this together, we have the same deadlines, and expectations, and we are able to help one another through the process.”
Mrs. Darrow echos her husbands thoughts; “we help one another grow as SEVA teachers by talking, sharing student work and providing constructive feedback.” If anything, they both shared how they might become too wrapped up in all things SEVA as the awards deadline approaches; they recognize how their children have to sit through copious amounts of SEVA chatter, sometimes right at the dinner table.
Any time spent in either of their classrooms makes it clear that the real people who benefit from their unique partnership are their students. Both Mr. and Mrs. Darrow have the laser focus of helping their students become the best digital storytellers they can be. From the beginning they have shared the videos made by their students between the elementary and middle school with the goal of providing constructive feedback based on the SEVA rubric. At Award Night, students from both schools are invested in each other’s success and support each other through the disappointment when a video doesn’t take home top honors as they recognize just how much work went in to each video. Mr. Darrow says, “It’s like we are on one big team supporting one another.” After the SEVAs, the Darrows take time to sit down together and talk through what worked, what didn’t, and plan for next year.
When asked what she enjoys most about being married to a fellow SEVA teacher, Mrs. Darrow stated “watching our students grow in the knowledge of digital storytelling and sharing our lessons learned and successes with one another.” It’s clear that the SEVA program is very fortunate to have these two dynamic individuals to model what kind of success can truly be achieved when we work together.