Ryan P. Webber, the Falmouth Public Schools employee of the month for August, wears a lot of hats and carries a lot of cameras in his multifaceted job.
Mr. Webber, who lives in Mashpee with his wife and 14-year-old daughter, is the station manager and coordinator for Falmouth educational access television—Channel 14 on Comcast—and the webmaster for the Falmouth Public Schools site and social media pages. He is also a licensed video production teacher for grades 9 to 12 at Falmouth High School.
“Mr. Webber has the task of keeping the public apprised of school activities via social media and is able to juggle multiple projects at once while remaining thoughtful and considerate,” said Michael Falcone, the high school’s director of information technology.
“Mr. Webber’s mindful and engaging presence has motivated and inspired staff and students,” Superintendent Lori S. Duerr said. “He is everywhere at all times ready to assist and make creative suggestions. We are fortunate to have him as part of our staff.”
Mr. Webber has worked for the Falmouth Public Schools since 2006 when he was first hired as the technology teacher assistant at Mullen-Hall Elementary School. Later, he transferred to the high school as the computer lab technician before taking his current position. Today he also runs summer animation and video production camps for middle-school students.
“We do such amazing things here in the schools, and I think sometimes teachers and administrators are so focused on actually doing those things that they don’t have the time to trumpet their success to the community. I’m glad I get around trying to spread the message of what we’re doing as a district,” he said.
A Lawrence School student who did not give a name said, “I appreciate that Mr. Webber gives me the opportunity to be part of his film crew. He encourages me to be part of the team and see how what we do connects to a variety of jobs. He is a teacher and mentor in all tech areas. He is always looking for new ways to make learning fun.”
One of Mr. Webber’s favorite parts of his job is being the executive producer and coordinator of the daily student-produced morning news segment at the high school, which reminds him of his first media production experience as a high school student in Bangor, Maine.
“I was kind of lucky in high school. There was a TV station nearby, a CBS news affiliate, WABI, and they had a high school internship that I started when I was 16. I worked there until I was 22 or 23 when I got my first ‘real’ job. I learned as I went, being able to do TV news production professionally. I was directing a 6 o’clock newscast with 33,000 viewers when I was 18, subbing in,” he said. “It was really lucky to be able to do that for real, and that’s kind of what I try to do here, especially for our morning news production. Being able to provide those real-world experiences for students is the best way to learn.”
Working as a film crew is similar to playing on a sports team, Mr. Webber said.
“To have an end goal in mind really brings people together. Everything is student-run—on-air talent, camera operators, directors, everything—and it’s live. There’s no editing other than to the prerecorded segments. They’re able to communicate and act as professionals would,” he said.
In the spring Mr. Webber will teach a course called “Inside FHS” that is geared toward creating pre-taped segments and video packages for the morning news.
“Everything the students do is mindful of the fact that this is going to go on air. The morning news itself is actually a club, and there are students who aren’t in video production classes who come in every day at 7 AM because they have an interest in video,” he said.
This past Saturday, August 17, Mr. Webber worked with a student film crew during the SBLI Family Fun Run, the Aetna Falmouth Elite Mile and the Tommy Cochary High School Mile.
“I really stood back and let them do the work, and they were excited to see their footage, which got used in a lot of places,” he said.
With his time and talents in great demand across the school district, Mr. Webber said he sometimes finds it difficult to arrange his schedule, from capturing perennial events to marking student achievements to creating informational videos for school administrators.
“It still amazes me after all these years that everything we do as a district is so student-focused. We see student and staff success, and the district success overall, and I feel so lucky to be here. I’m getting ready for convocation next week, which is important to set the tone for the year for teachers. We’ll stream it live,” he said.
When he is asked to create a video about something with which he is unfamiliar, Mr. Webber said he prepares by speaking with the person who knows the most about the subject.
“Being in the district as long as I have been, I’m lucky that I usually can guess who that person is. When all else fails, I’ll reach out to a building secretary for a suggestion,” he said. “Most of all, I love those small events that are usually focused on individual students. My favorite moments are when you can get in and be able to talk one-on-one with a student, to be able to let them shine and have their moment.”
Recognizing that many people have held a position similar to his over the school district’s history, Mr. Webber said he has in his office a wall of VHS tapes that go back about 30 years. He is working on digitizing the wealth videos of graduations, school plays, sports games and more.
“These are the traditions we want to keep,” he said.