SIBLEY—James Craig has been putting his broadcast journalism experience from college to use in his new role as superintendent of Sibley-Ocheyedan School District.
Craig has maintained a weekly video blog, or vlog, since settling into his new post in early July.
“With public relations being a big part of the job, I wanted to get a good start on that and make sure it was a priority that we’re communicating with the public about things,” he said.
Craig briefly studied journalism and was involved with the campus radio station while pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Wartburg College in Waverly.
Although he dropped the journalism major to focus on music education, Craig said his radio experience has benefited him in his weekly video updates where he speaks into a microphone to communicate information.
In his videos, which are posted on Fridays and range from two to nine minutes, Craig gives updates on events and activities taking place in the district. He also has had guests appear on his vlog, including teachers, coaches, school administrators and students.
Craig said he makes a conscious effort to get out of his office in the high school and include updates from the middle and elementary schools in his vlogs.
“There’s lots of really positive things going on all over the district, and we want to showcase as much of that as we can,” he said.
Topics Craig has covered with guests have ranged from the performance of the school’s sports teams to the role of the drum major in the high school’s marching band. He also spoke with the K-6 guidance counselor Laurel Klaassen on the new house system at the elementary where students are divided into six “houses” based on the pillars of character.
Craig also had Iowa secretary of agriculture Mike Naig appear on his vlog when Naig visited with students in the district’s chapter of the National FFA Organization in September.
“We found out that he was coming for a visit, and so we asked him that day when he came, ‘Can we get a couple of minutes with you before you leave?’ and he was gracious enough to do that,” Craig said.
Naig praised the district’s FFA organization and noted how it is the second largest in the state. He also spoke to the importance of agricultural education and encouraging students to pursue careers in agriculture.
The district also will host a visit from Ryan Wise, the director of the Iowa Department of Education, on Oct. 10. Craig said he plans on having Wise appear in that week’s vlog as well.
The superintendent’s vlogs are posted on Craig’s YouTube page before being uploaded to the school district’s website as well as to the Sibley-Ocheyedan Facebook page.
Social media is where Craig said the videos usually attract the most views.
“The majority of our hits come from when people see it’s updated on Friday on the Facebook page, then they’ll go and watch it from there,” he said.
To record his videos, Craig uses the camera on his desktop computer in his office. When he speaks with guests in other locations in the district, he places his cellphone on a tripod and uses it to tape their conversation.
He then uses the video-editing program, iMovie, to stitch together the clips and add transitions to make the video more visually appealing.
Craig’s favorite part of maintaining his vlog is being able to meet new people and speak with them about their passions.
“When you talk to somebody about their thing that they’re passionate about and they’re proud of and they’re working hard to be the best they can be at it, it makes for a really enjoyable conversation,” Craig said.
“That’s what it’s all about, building those relationships and working together to support each other.”