PBS Reno Education Services Growing by Leaps and Bounds
RENO, NV (Feb. 18, 2022) — PBS Reno is an independent, community-owned PBS member station based in Reno, Nevada. The station is watched weekly by more than 113,000 people in approximately 62,000 households in northern and central Nevada and northeastern California. In addition to broadcasting PBS favorites Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Nature, NOVA and more, PBS Reno is widely-known for its award-winning local productions Wild Nevada, ARTEFFECTS, and The Work of Art documentary series. PBS Reno continues to produce new episodes of each local production while reaching new audiences through its Classical Tahoe series and the station’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the Spotlight Awards and Auction, which celebrates teachers, local businesses, community groups, and philanthropists making a difference in northern Nevada and beyond.
However, PBS Reno is so much more than a television station.
On the air, PBS Reno is home to award-winning children’s education programs including Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Curious George. Off the air, PBS Reno Education Services provides educational outreach in local classrooms and multiple sources of material to teachers and families, each and every day. PBS Reno hosts station tours throughout the year, and during each tour, there is a person or two who is surprised and delighted to learn about PBS Reno Education Services. The educational services provided by the station are not a requirement by PBS at the national level; meaning PBS Reno chose to create and develop the educational arm of its organization. Since its creation, PBS Reno Education Services has identified and responded to countless needs identified among the region’s K-12 students.
“In today’s world of education, we need partners who are nimble, innovative, and forward-thinking,” said Jhone Ebert, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Nevada Department of Education. “I am grateful that we have exactly that type of partner in PBS Reno. PBS Reno Education Services offers resources to support our students, families, and educator workforce. Their innovative programs and contests engage students around foundational subjects, helping to ignite passions in STEAM, writing, reading, and so much more. And especially important in this moment, they provide our educators with thousands of innovative, standards-aligned resources and experiences.”
PBS Reno Education Services impacts hundreds of classrooms in the Washoe County School District, which is home to 62,000+ students – and the PBS Reno studios! Thanks to the department’s team of 35+ certified facilitators, the station has greatly expanded its reach to surrounding counties; many of them rural, whose students and teachers don’t always receive access to the resources they need. In addition to Washoe County, PBS Reno Education Services works with educators in Carson City, Douglas, Elko, Lyon, and Humboldt Counties.
The single, most-tangible approach to the station’s success over the past five years has been improving communication with teachers about the wide variety of rich, standards-based materials available from PBS Reno Education Services. Thanks to word-of-mouth, thousands of teachers, parents, and students have experienced the quality amenities provided by PBS Reno Education Services, which continues to grow and expand its offerings to the community it serves on the air.
PBS Reno Curiosity Classroom
PBS Reno Curiosity Classroom is the very core of PBS Reno Education Services, and the station’s Curiosity Classroom Workshops keep everyone involved extremely busy! During the 2020-2021 school year, PBS Reno conducted 2,779 workshops in six counties, resulting in 48,821 student interactions. The station expects to surpass the 3,000-mark in the year ahead as pandemic-induced distance learning mandates dissolve.
Curiosity Classroom Workshops are available to students in pre-K through 4th grade, and include high-quality video clips, a read-aloud, and a fun hands-on activity. Each workshop is tied to standards-based lessons in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and lessons are aligned to Nevada Academic Content Standards, Common Core Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards. All materials are supplied, and students receive free books to build their own libraries at home. Literacy is a cornerstone of the program; most-recently, robotics has been an important theme, with the goal of giving each student multiple educational experiences with robots before they reach 4th grade.
Curiosity Classroom Workshops are accredited by the College of Education & Human Development at the University of Nevada, Reno. Workshop facilitators are certified teachers who have retired from their respective school districts and who want an opportunity to continue teaching young children.
“When I started as a facilitator with PBS Reno back in 2014, the workshops weren't developed yet,” said Joy Foremaster, PBS Reno Director of Education. “The facilitators went into classrooms and taught lessons that they designed themselves. Workshops were only done in Washoe County and weren’t very frequent. Now, PBS Reno has developed over 50 workshops that the facilitators use instead. Each lesson is developed to help meet educational standards set forth by the state. We have expanded our workshops into six counties and multiple workshops are happening on a daily basis. I am so proud to be part of this program and to have had the opportunity to be part of such huge growth and success.”
Each PBS Reno Curiosity Classroom Workshop is completely free to the people who use them. This means school districts and teachers don’t have to pay for a workshop. Parents aren’t asked to send in cash for the experience, as they often are for other extracurricular activities such as off-campus field trips. Students are never excluded for financial reasons – because there are no financial strings attached! The concept of public television remaining free to everyone is a strong and congruent foundation of PBS Reno Education Services. Just like the public television model, PBS Reno Education Services depends heavily on grants and financial contributions from viewers, businesses, and corporate sponsorships. PBS Reno’s Development team raises the monies needed to pay for the materials, time, and talent it takes to conduct thousands of workshops throughout the school year. Facilitators are paid for each workshop, ensuring they are compensated for their time and experience.
“The PBS Reno Curiosity Classroom Workshops are meaningful and valuable for the students because every child can participate no matter their ‘level’ of expertise or comfort with the subject,” said Beckee Foote, PBS Reno Curiosity Classroom Facilitator. “I see first-hand how every child can be successful and relevant during a workshop. Children, no matter their age or developmental level, learn by wondering, exploring, and doing. The workshops take an idea or concept from real literature relating to grade level curriculum and expand upon it with hands-on activities or art projects that can be reproduced, recreated and/or discussed at home, allowing the children to share their knowledge. They are fast-paced and non-threatening as well as being informational and fun. When this happens, the students become the teachers and they are filled with both excitement and pride about their learning.”
PBS Reno is fiercely supported by volunteers who believe in the values of public television, and the station’s mission to Entertain Your Curiosity. In 2021, PBS Reno Education Services documented 1,046 hours provided by volunteers, who worked diligently to assemble materials for the Curiosity Classroom Workshops.
Workshops, Reading, and Writing, Oh My!
In addition to the workshops, PBS Reno Curiosity Classroom has two other tremendous initiatives that impact local students: PBS Reno Reading Buddies, and the annual PBS Reno Curiosity Classroom Writers Contest.
The PBS Reno Reading Buddies program is a way to increase vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing, and instill confidence and leadership skills in local students while developing self-esteem, social-emotional skills, and enhancing students’ love for books and reading. The Reading Buddies program has two parts: Martha Speaks and Arthur SEL (social-emotional learning). Both programs pair younger elementary students (Kindergarten through 2nd grade) with older elementary students (3rd through 5th grade) to meet one-on-one for several weeks. Each session introduces new vocabulary words and then reinforces them as the buddy pairs watch a selected PBS KIDS episode, work collaboratively to read books, play games, and participate in hands-on activities. Students learn to listen for and utilize the new vocabulary words of the day during each segment of the lesson. At the end of the Reading Buddies program, PBS Reno honors participants with a new book to take home to add to their home libraries.
The annual PBS Reno Curiosity Classroom Writers Contest encourages local students to write and illustrate their own stories that feature a specific theme; examples include Compassion and Investigate. In 2021, PBS Reno received 1,979 submissions from Carson City School District, Douglas, Elko, Humboldt, Lyon, and Washoe County School District. Each year, twelve winners (three each from Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades) have their stories published into hardcover books and placed on display at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, giving millions of travelers a glimpse into the creative minds of the region’s children.
Distance Learning Lessons
When the pandemic forced most students into distance learning in 2020, PBS Reno immediately saw the need for educational materials to utilize from home. To meet this need, the station developed a variety of resources for families to provide to their children. Those resources include PBS Reno for Families, PBS Reno STEM Works, and Story Time with Joy.
PBS Reno for Familiesis an online resource of standards-based educational materials in a variety of topics: nature, health, safety, libraries, learning, family fun, and more. It includes PBS LearningMedia which features hundreds of free, standards-aligned videos and interactive lesson plans. Many of the PBS LearningMedia videos stem from PBS Reno programs like Wild Nevada, and explore archaeology, diversity, railroads and mining, allowing local students to explore their own backyard.
PBS Reno STEM Works digital shorts provide a fun, fresh look at careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The digital-first series is hosted by Hana, an energetic young woman who takes viewers to northern Nevada-based businesses including Tesla, Google, Desert Research Institute, NV Energy, Nevada Mining Association, and more. The digital shorts feature interviews with professionals in their respective fields as they discuss what makes their work so interesting. The goal is to get more kids interested in STEM-related fields in their communities and beyond. PBS Reno has hired an additional full-time Content Creator who will continue to produce and grow the series.
PBS Reno Director of Education Joy Foremaster joined PBS Reno in 2014 as a workshop facilitator. Foremaster no doubt infuses the spirit of her first name into every arena of her work, and is rarely spotted at work without her megawatt smile. That smile is on display during Story Time with Joy, a new digital-first PBS Reno production. Each week, Foremaster selects a short children’s story and reads the book on-camera, complete with an often-handmade costume and props to match. Foremaster has produced more than 70 of these digital shorts, which grew from the demand for new digital content during the pandemic.
PBS Reno Education Services has a singular but mighty goal to meet during the next three years: to reach students in each and every county that receives the PBS Reno signal on television. This means we need to reach school districts in nine additional counties primarily in central Nevada, and we are hard at work in tracking down a variety of grants to make this happen. While the goal is monumental, PBS Reno has in place key people to strengthen the foundation for success down the road.
How can you get involved with PBS Reno Education Services? Visit pbsreno.org/donate and support our work. The amount of services we are able to provide is directly related to the number of people who choose to support us! If you’re a retired teacher looking for ways to remain involved with teaching, learn how you can become a facilitator with our growing Curiosity Classroom Workshop program by contacting Maria Glanzmann at email@example.com.