One Day on Earth

The World's Story is Yours to Tell

This week we are spotlighting professional filmmaker nationally renowned educator Joe Fatheree. Joe has been extremely supportive of One Day on Earth and our educational efforts, and we look forward to seeing what he and his class create on 10.10.10.

Who are you and what is your profession?

My name is Joseph Fatheree. I am an educator and professional filmmaker.

Can you tell us a little about your background and upbringing?
I grew up in a small town in Southern Illinois. My grandfather was a master at weaving stories together, and inspired me to have an interest in writing and filmmaking at a very early age.

I teach a nationally recognized filmmaking program at Effingham High School. I was named the Illinois Teacher of the Year in 2007, and was recognized as one of the top educators in the nation by the NEA in 2009.

As a filmmaker, I have co-produced three award-winning films that have aired nationally on PBS, the Documentary Channel, and MLB. I am currently in production on a children’s program that will launch
globally in the spring of 2011.

I serve on several committees and advisory boards around the country that focuses on how to improve the educational delivery system for schools around the United States.

What inspired you to teach filmmaking?
Digital storytelling is a powerful tool that can be used by educators to help engage their students in the learning process. It is a great way to help connect the curriculum to the real world and empower students with tools that will enable them to find success in the 21st Century.

Good communication skills are an absolute must in this day and age. In our classroom, students have the opportunity, on a daily basis, to breath life into characters and worlds that don’t exist. During the course of the year, the students learn how develop an idea into a short film or animation. The process is rigorous. A student not only has to learn how to develop an idea through his or her writing but must also how to run a camera and frame a shot, acquire audio, light a set, manage people, secure a location, budget both time and equipment, understand the principles of editing, and develop a marketing plan. Those same students are also responsible for hosting one of the largest student operated film festivals in the United States.

As an educator, I am constantly searching for new ways to measure student achievement. Digital storytelling is a tool that provides parents and educators with a new layer of transparency that enables them to see a history of snapshots of student achievement in real time. It is impossible to hide “C” work on a 30-foot screen. Students are challenged to give their best. The effort shows in their work. Filmmaking has become a tool that I can use to help inspire students to become life-long learners.

Who are your heroes?
I have had the opportunity to meet some incredible people over the past several years. Their stories never cease to amaze me. I have had the pleasure of meeting with the president in the Oval Office and the humbling experience of interviewing a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. I hung by my fingernails off of a cliff wall in Idaho while filming a documentary about a mountain climber with Cerebral Palsy. I have the chance to work with National Teachers of the Year, and some of the top business and political leaders in the United States. I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every story and have considered it an honor to meet such a wonderful diverse group of people.

However, my wife and kids are my heroes. They have been my biggest supporters over the years, and have always encouraged me to push the limits on my creative endeavors. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the three of them.

What story do you want to tell on 10.10.10?
My students have taken this on as a class project. We are fortunate to live in one of the many small communities that dot the landscape of the Midwest. The students in my class are in the process of conducting research and have developed a storyline that will challenge viewers to look past the stereotypical image that most people have of small town America and into the complicated lives of those who inhabit one.

Slow Down from joe fatheree on Vimeo. ...student film by Jessica Parmenter, created in Joe's class.

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