Production Notes

We All Cried
This production crew is a team of misfits. We were all misfits during our school years.

Seth Reber, our Production Manager, Post-Production Editor, Camera Two and Special Effects guy, is a self-taught, super-human genius intellectually, artistically and in other ways we can only imagine until we ask him to perform yet another task. In high school, he figured out he could graduate with a D if he only showed up to take the tests and attend 1st and 2nd periods at Dover High School. He simply could not abide school. No one cared, especially his teachers.

He's 41 years old now and a crucial key in the making of our documentary feature film, 922, the story of the Claymont City School District.

During one of our interviews with Claymont High School's Principal Rob Clarke, I (Kim) turned away from the interview because I had tears in my eyes. Rob Clarke's comments about his school and the passion he feels for his job and especially his kids, moved me beyond measure. As I turned away, back toward Seth's camera behind me, my eyes locked with Seth's. His eyes and nose were all red and there were tears coming out the corners of his eyes.

We stopped filming for a moment until we could all "gather" ourselves because we were all crying. Seth shared, "God, I never knew teachers like this existed before now."

Liz Thomas - Music Teacher
When we began filming the 922 project, we stumbled upon story after story of incredible passion. We found that most of the teachers at Claymont are so out-of-the-box, that's it's commonplace. These teachers cannot rest until they've reached every kid. If kids struggle, the teachers find new and inventive ways to help them learn. They don't leave anyone behind. When there are no funds for something they want to try or use in the classroom, they write grants. And they get them. When they don't, they reach out in other out-of-the-box ways.

You can only imagine our astonishment when we received this email from music teacher, Liz Thomas. In her own words, we share with you what she expresses.

Dear Seth,
I was featured on a t.v. show and in several magazines about 5 years ago. I lost my hearing in my sleep 7 yrs. ago.

I was determined to keep teaching and have. Since the original struggle to keep teaching, I have had two cochlear implant surgeries and am now a bilateral cochlear implant user. I consult sometimes with the company that produces my implant in Los Angeles as there aren't too many deaf music teachers to gather information from. =)

If you met me you may not even realize that I was hearing impaired unless my hair was pulled up and you actually saw the devices.

I teach music grades 7-12 (vocal) though my background is actually instrumental. I have 120 students involved at the high school level and another 30 in my eighth grade musical theater class.

I guess you could say that my whole story is out of the box.
Liz Thomas

Liz's story is one that screams passion, perseverance and patience. And we are proud to share her words with you.

Rounding Rap
Kim was interviewing Superintendent, Ryan Delaney. She asked Mr. Delaney if there were teachers in the district who were implementing very original, creative ways to teach and to help kids learn. His reply was, "Sure, all of them." Kim's comment was, "Well, let's go." Then Ryan added, "But if they're asked to share, they'll tell you that they don't really do anything that's special." "What?" Kim replied.So, in the next day or two, we hit the ground running, with cameras. The first school we visited was Eastport Elementary. We talked with Principal, Beth Johnson, who could have talked all day long and then some about her school. We soon realized we would have to schedule another half day with her as she had so much to say.

We moved on down the hall and found ourselves outside Juli Shaw's 4th grade classroom. When Mr. Delaney opened the door and stepped one big foot inside, the kids all started cheering. They all know and love their Superintendent, Mr. Delaney. Their reaction surprised us because none of us on the film crew had any idea who our Superintendent was when we were in school. But that isn't the case in the 922 exchange.

When the kids settled down, Mr. Delaney asked Mrs. Shaw what she was doing in her class that was original, creative and out-of-the-box. Mrs. Shaw stammered, hesitated and finally said, "You've really put me on the spot here. I can't think of anything I do that would be considered all that special." Mr. Delaney was right and he really did know his teachers.

I whispered to Mr. Delaney to ask the kids if there was anything special that Mrs. Shaw was doing in their class to help them learn." Without a moment's hesitation they all screamed out, "THE RAP SONG!"

With little encouragement from Mr. Delaney, they were all up on their feet, had taken their positions in front of the class and on a count of 3 from Mrs. Shaw, they started singing and rapping the ROUNDING RAP SONG. It wasn't enough that they had the lyrics and the tune down pat, it was also choreographed. And they performed as well, if not better, than any rapper I've ever seen.

We found out later from Mrs. Shaw, when her memory returned, that her kids were having trouble remembering the rules for rounding fractions. So, she simply made up a rap song with music, lyrics and the choreography, to boot. And she taught the kids fraction rules in a new way.

I challenge anyone who thinks that you cannot put the Fun back in Fundamentals.

Rebels With a Cause
We were at Eastport Elementary one day filming and found ourselves without classes to film. It was the noon hour and all the kids were in the auditorium-turned-cafeteria for the lunch hour. We decided to film the lunch hour, remembering that school cafeterias are synonymous with chaos and we wanted to capture a bit of chaos on film, just for fun.

When we entered, to our surprise, a couple hundred kids were seated, quietly eating lunch while others were in line to get their lunches. Kids were talking, but they were talking in conversational tones. I couldn't believe we were in an auditorium doubled as a cafeteria and not one elementary student was doing anything but eating. I realized that a lot of time and effort had been exercised to create this calm atmosphere and organized meal process.

Seth is a rebel at heart, even if he has managed to calm those rebellious tendencies. When he entered the cafeteria, I guess it was just a little too quiet for him. And that tiny demon on his shoulder pointed out the pull up bar. In an instant, Seth's 6 ft. 4 inch frame barely hopped a foot, and this spindly spider man was suspended from the pull up bar, doing fake one handed pull ups.

It took a nano-second for the entire room of two hundred kids to burst out laughing, abandoning their applesauce and egg noodles and we saw chaos. We hadn't even set up the cameras yet.

Without a doubt, the documentary film crew would be asked to leave. I was sure of it. Worse, we would be sent to the principal's office and given detention. Suspension seemed like a strong possibility and being expelled was definitely a reality. After all, this school district has a zero tolerance policy for misbehaving and ill-mannered kids. There would be consequences.

But wait, we were all adults, so we collectively pointed our fingers upward, and yelled, "Seth did it. Seth did it." The teachers in charge seemed to be okay with this. Seth received some scolding looks and was instantly propelled back into 2nd grade, head hung low, and slithering down from his perch. Ah. Reprieve.

Just to put this story into perspective, we are not a student film group. Our producer and my husband is 67 years old, Kim is 60, Bryan is 43 and the baby, Seth, is 40. For more antics, check out our Facebook page. This Much Productions.