Keysha Lee said her current job combines her two passions, television broadcasts and helping young people realize their dreams.
In addition to teaching at DeKalb Alternative High School, Lee produces and hosts Lessons With Mrs. Lee, a program aired on the DeKalb County education television station. The show format is interviews with exceptional people who share the lessons they have learned throughout their lives.
“It’s the students’ show and I’m impressed with how they take ownership of it,” said Lee, who holds a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and has worked at television stations in Alabama and Georgia. “They do everything from booking and pre-interviewing guests to operating the cameras to editing. I hope one day one of them will take over as on-air host and I can just stay behind the camera.”
The show has included such notable guests as Dr. Abdalla Rashad Tau, author of Delinquent to Doctor, and artist/musician Eshe. Judge Glenda Hatchett of the Emmy-nominated show Judge Hatchett and IronE Singleton from the Walking Dead also have been guests on Lessons With Mrs. Lee.
“The students are sometimes blown away by the impressive guests we have, but they remain focused and professional. They stay on task. They always make me proud. We’ve had guests say, ‘These are high school students? I can’t believe how professional they are.’ That’s our reputation, so we tell any new students who join us that they’re expected to live up to that reputation.”
Lee said she solicits guests though former classmates and others she knows in the broadcast industry. She said she works for a combination of people the students know about and want to meet and people she thinks they should know. “There are people here in Atlanta who have done important things, but they were things that happened before the students’ time, so they may never have heard the name, but I want to teach a little history along with journalism.”
People approached to be guests almost always are excited about it, Lee said. “No one turns us down.”
The students—called interns in the program—come from all over the DeKalb County School District and some are even from Atlanta schools outside the county. “Some teachers in Fulton County have seen the program and said they don’t have anything like it. They asked if their students could work with us,” Lee explained.
Lee said she started her DeKalb County work with student broadcasting in Dunwoody, where she worked with school volunteer Connie Seacrest. “She’s been involved with Dunwoody High School since her son Ryan Seacrest was a student there. Because he’s been a big success in the broadcast world she likes helping students who are interested in television and radio.” Ryan Seacrest is the host of television’s American Idol and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve as well as morning radio show On Air with Ryan Seacrest.
She also worked at Chamblee High School and said that both Dunwoody and Chamblee have many more resources than she has at DeKalb Alternative School. “There’s no studio here and that presented a challenge, but it’s an exciting challenge. It gave us an opportunity to get creative. We got an opportunity to take the show out of a studio and into the community,” Lee said. One advantage, she added, is that each show looks different. Another is the “real world” experience students get since they sometimes work outside the normal school schedule.
At first Lessons With Mrs. Lee, now in its third season, could only be viewed at the schools, then Lee approached the DeKalb County education network about airing the show publicly. “Their usual programming is school board meetings—that sort of thing—it can be pretty dry. They loved what we’re doing. They’d like us to produce a show every week, but the students’ schedules don’t allow that,” she said.
Lee said she’s pleased with how popular the show has become. “I even hear from people in Fulton County, so they must air it there sometimes too,” she said, adding the some episodes are shown on YouTube as well.
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