Looking Back: 20 Years of the ASB Workshop

There were recently 34 video teachers in my classroom for a week. They came from California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Michigan, from all across the U.S. One came from Buffalo, MO, about 45 minutes down the road.

Why did they come to of all places, aging Hillcrest High School on the “old side” of Springfield? Apparently, they heard good things about our “little-workshop-that-could.” So we did our best to give them what they needed.


Since the summer of 2000, teachers have taken a chance on our approach, and we are honored they have. At that first workshop, 26 of them showed up, and many remain my friends today. Others I lost track of, because…life. But I think of them now and then and wonder where they are, and if they have good memories of the Ozark Empire Fair, where they shot their big stories. Of food often breaded and fried up, and of the deck-to-deck VHS editing they did when they weren’t experimenting with a new device called a “Casablanca.” Or was it an “Avio?” Either way, they found frustration with those new-fangled digital editing machines.

The second year, we had 37 teachers show up, and they were really crammed into my classroom, but they did not complain. I saw some pushed to tears as they tried to meet our deadlines. I saw some wince a little when their projects early in the week were critiqued in front of the entire group.

We have not changed much since those first years. We still harp on STORY. Beginning, middle, end. We ask them to be “teacher as student” for a week. To let us share a ton of information, and offer a variety of approaches they can choose to use, or ignore. We also say every story needs a simple focus. What’s yours?

So what of the 20th group of educators who chose to visit Springfield, the land of Pineapple Whip, the Mudhouse, and those tasty “throwed rolls,” and put their faith in us for a few hot summer days? How did it go this time around?

It is safe to say as a staff, we felt we did a nice job presenting material, and giving the attendees the kind of hands-on opportunities that bring the the best lessons to life.

But how did it really go? That is never easy to answer. It will take weeks, months, probably an entire school year to see how the workshop impacts 34 programs around the country. I hope to hear from the teachers now and then, as things happen in their classes that hopefully we covered.

In the meantime, I have a cup of joe waiting on me on South street. You see, everybody knows to come downtown to the Mudhouse for a great cup of coffee…