The newest documentary from Nebraska Loves Public Schools will feature some familiar faces.
The documentary team recorded footage in Schuyler for the film “Seeds of Hope," which looks at the diverse experiences and challenges for English language learners in public schools.
“While traveling across the state we were looking for a school with a high population of English language learners,” said NLPS marketing director Brittany Mascio. “We wanted to see what school district is working with their students to see how they can best learn the language.”
According to the Nebraska Department of Education, the state has seen a 113 percent increase in English language learners since 2000. The film also includes footage from Omaha Public Schools, where 117 different languages are spoken by students; Lincoln Public Schools, which has a large number of refugees; and Chadron Public Schools, where the immigrant population is mainly from the Marshall Islands.
“There’s students who are very versed in education. Others have had very limited classroom experience,” said Mascio. “I’m hoping the audience will take away from this film an awareness and more empathy for our immigrants and refugees in our public schools.”
Mascio said NLPS included Schuyler because of its history of taking in, educating and integrating immigrants into the community, which continues today.
“How they have welcomed these families,” said Mascio, "and how they can help them learn the English language and how they can be successful in the classroom but also in the greater Schuyler community.”
Schuyler Community Schools Superintendent Dan Hoesing said the crew filmed here around November 2015 in the schools, at Cargill and downtown.
“I think one of the things they saw of great value is how accepting our kids and our community are,” Hoesing said.
He thinks the school district's positive attitude toward all children will be highlighted in the film.
“I think one of the things that I see is there’s a lot of potential in the kids we have, both the immigrant kids and the general population,” said Hoesing. “Second is our focus on what kids can be rather than what the struggles are when they come to us.”
Hoesing said that attitude stems from all areas of the district.
“The cool thing about this is there’s no manuscript or playbook. For some things you have to see what works and find out what doesn’t work,” he said. “That’s one thing I like about our school board is they’re willing to roll up their sleeves, say, ‘Let’s give it a run,’ and see if it works. If it doesn’t, we’ll change it.”
Hoesing believes the film will also highlight the work being done in the community to accommodate immigrants.
“It’s an honor to be featured in this,” he said. “Once again, Schuyler can be seen as taking the lead on tough political and social issues in the community and bring out the best in our kids and in the community.”