Tallmadge teacher launches “Entre 2 Blue Devils” podcast
Tallmadge High School psychology teacher Mark Horner had been playing around with the idea of starting a podcast for years.
But when his wife bought him a microphone for Christmas 2019 and he accidentally found out how much it cost, Horner thought, “Well, I guess I really have to do it now.”
Less than two months later, Horner released the first episode of “Between 2 Blue Devils,” a conversation between Horner and a staff member or alumnus of Tallmadge Schools about everything from relationships to career, and their guilty pleasures. musical at the most embarrassing moments.
The podcast takes its name from Zach Galifianakis’ humorous web series “Between Two Ferns,” but the titles are where the similarities end.
As Galifianakis crudely interviews celebrities against a stripped-down setting adorned only with two ferns, Horner interviews his guests in his class in front of students, asking sincere questions and facilitating moments of vulnerability and levity.
About five years ago, a student suggested that Horner watch the series, specifically the Barack Obama episode.
“I thought it was really funny, and a few days later I was in class. It was probably a Wednesday and the kids were tired,” Horner said. “I realized I needed to quickly pivot and change the environment.”
Horner pulled out a Google slide and added two ferns to it, started playing the theme song “Between Two Ferns”, and randomly pulled a student in front of the class to be interviewed.
“I started asking questions and then my audience asked questions and before you knew it we found out all kinds of things about this youngster that we didn’t know,” Horner said. “They loved it, and it became a weekly thing.”
Then one day, on a whim, Horner instead interviewed a teacher who was just in the hallway.
“The kids loved it. They loved getting to know the teacher on a more personal level, so I started to invite teachers to take 15-20 minutes at the end of their week to talk,” he said. he declares.
Meanwhile, Horner actively consumed education and leadership podcasts such as “Teach Better”, “Lasting Learning”, “Increase Your Impact with Justin Su’a”, “Teachers on Fire”, “Better Leaders Better” Schools “and” The teachers’ room with Chey and Pav. “
In 2018, he attended a Teach Better conference where several speakers encouraged educators to make their voices heard through blogs and podcasts.
“I left feeling pretty convinced that I should raise my voice, bring up other voices of Tallmadge and start this podcast, but I still haven’t followed through,” Horner said.
Soon after, however, Horner received his (very expensive) microphone for Christmas and dropped his first episode on February 16, 2020, via the Anchor podcasting platform.
“It created a positive culture and a real sense of community where everyone knows everyone has a story,” said Horner. “For me, this is the most important thing. One of the main points of my ‘Why’, my goal, is to build relationships not only between myself and other people, but also between children and other staff. ”
The podcast, which is typically recorded in front of Horner’s psychology or AP history classes, was especially helpful in building relationships this year, given that high school students only attended school in person only every other day because of the pandemic.
Horner also credits his podcast to his psychology students, associating particular episodes with classroom lessons. For example, when Horner was talking to students about dealing with adversity, he asked them to listen to the episode with high school teacher Sue Whitman, who overcame a series of personal tragedies and hardships.
“She’s a model of resilience, grace and perseverance. The kids listen to that and think about how they would handle what she’s done,” Horner said. “Imagine adversity strikes. What are you putting in place to help you better manage storms? What do you remember when you listen to it? ”
While podcasts always have an uplifting message, they also discuss failure and how to move forward.
“I always ask educators to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly,” Horne said. “I want them to bring their real stories that students and the community can connect with, because when people share their story and you know someone else is in trouble, it makes you stronger and more resilient. . “
There are now 32 episodes of “Between 2 Blue Devils”, on Anchor, Spotify and iTunes. The next episode starring Courtney Davis, the former principal of Tallmadge Elementary School who was recently promoted to director of the program, was dropped on Saturday.
Horner plans to release another episode this week, and then for the rest of the summer will release intermittent episodes with the alumni when they return home to visit.
Journalist Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, [email protected] or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.