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The story behind the tearjerker Decatur Public Schools video that went viral
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The story behind the tearjerker Decatur Public Schools video that went viral

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DECATUR — Thousands of people this week have shared on Facebook a heartfelt video featuring Decatur Public School teachers sharing a message of gratitude with their students. 

"We challenged our teachers and staff to think of just ONE of the many students who inspire them to come to work every day," the school district wrote in a post with the video. "Watch our students' reactions when they realize the impact they truly have on us. #DPS61love"

The video was posted on the district's Facebook page Nov. 8. As of Tuesday, the video has over 3,200 shares and nearly 500 comments.

Many of those who commented said the seven-minute video, called "I Chose You," moved them to tears.

We asked Maria Robertson, the district's community engagement officer, to discuss the process that led to creating the video. 

How did you come up with the idea for the video?

I got the idea from this annual conference I attended with other school public relations officers. At one point, they were discussing teachers who choose students that inspired them, and I thought it would be great to do that here in Decatur. But this was really a tag-teamed effort with Colin Cloney (the district's digital multimedia special projects coordinator). 

How did you decide what teachers to ask?

We sent out an email around the end of September to all of the staff asking them to choose a student that really inspires them. We filmed as many as possible and included those in the video posted now, but we still have more and might do another round. Colin filmed as many as possible and the response was just overwhelming but in a good way.

The teachers were: 

  • Eisenhower High School: Nathan Bohannon, Stephanie Koster and Kelsey Doubet
  • Dennis Elementary School: Jill Robertson, Brittany Acree, Albulena Emroski, Principal Daniel Lynch and Assistant Principal Keith Creighton
  • Oak Grove Elementary School: Alicia Alves
  • Stephen Decatur Middle School: Lori Fleming
  • Parsons Accelerate School: Melissa Geode
  • Stevenson Elementary School: Carie Hughes
  • Baum Elementary: Tonya Bales
  • Enterprise Elementary School: Aryn Dobrinick
  • Johns Hill Magnet School: Sarah Pierce
  • Muffley Elementary School: Valeria Bush

The video has now gone viral. Were you expecting that to happen and how does the district feel about such a magnitude of responses?

We have over 400,000 impressions on social media. It is very exciting. We've just reached people all over. We reached people as far as Texas, Florida, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Georgia, Indiana and other places. I will say that we shared the video with our staff during a professional development seminar at the end of September. It was at MacArthur High School. I wasn't in the building at the time but I was told there was not a single dry eye in the house. 

Contact Analisa Trofimuk at (217) 421-7985. Follow her on Twitter: @AnalisaTro

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