NM002 Creative Schooling from Hope Town, Bahamas to New Mexico
In last week’s episode of New Mexi-Castaways podcast I took you back to February of 2015, as I was just starting to think about making the transition from producing my TV show, New Mexicast to whatever the next chapter would bring. This episode was recorded just one month later, but you can already start to hear how much had changed. Moving onto another boat was still not on the radar, but I was definitely starting to think about what I really wanted for my family. Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, I think this period planted the seeds for our later decision to homeschool (or boatschool) as I created a club called, “Roadrunner Reels,” to teach kids at my daughters’ school about filmmaking by actually making a movie.
Of course, the seed was really planted long before that in the Fall of 2009, when our family lived on the sailing catamaran, s/v Hakuna Matata. As you will also hear in this episode, it was during that time living on one of our now favorite islands, Hope Town, Abaco, Bahamas (Elbow Cay) that I first discovered what it meant to get involved in my daughter’s education. Back then, I had no intention of becoming her teacher, but we quickly learned that when you live on an island like Hope Town, it truly does take a village to raise our children. Before I knew it, I was the new Spanish teacher at the Hope Town Primary School and over the next several months we fell in love with that lovely community.
Heartbreakingly, at the time of this writing, that beautiful island of Hope Town—along with all of the Abacos and Grand Bahama—still reels in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. So many of our friends lived through that monster, category 5 storm as it destroyed everything in sight, including the Hope Town Primary School. Little by little, they are working to rebuild, but it will be a very long road to recovery. As you listen to my story about our experience in Hope Town, please consider joining our friends (and friends of friends) who are using their talents to raise funds that will go directly to the school. Here are just a few of the amazing survivors of Hurricane Dorian who are selflessly focused on helping the island’s school.
- After my friends Hope & Pete Colling survived the storm, they both immediately went to work helping their island community rebuild. Pete has been on the front lines with the Hope Town Volunteer Fire and Rescue while Hope has been finding creative ways to help. In this fundraiser you’ll get a really neat Hope Town print by Kim Schwede to use however you like. Go here for details: Hope Town Primary School fundraiser
- The other fundraiser comes from my friend, Marilyn Prosa’s daughter. Long-time New Mexicast viewers will remember her son, Andrew and his wife Heather, from the story I did on the Hope Town Coffee Shop. It was one of our favorite places on the island of Elbow Cay, and it was completely destroyed by Hurricane Dorian. But even as their family faces the devastating reality of their business and home gone, Andrew’s sister is using her own creativity (and their son, Luke’s artistic talent), to help the school in this Hurricane Dorian Relief fundraiser.
In other words, there are some wonderful ways to help and I hope you will consider making a contribution to help them rebuild. We are hoping to return to the island again as a family as soon as it is possible to do so.
In future episodes, of New Mexi-Castaways’ podcast you will certainly hear more about Hope Town, including audio from when we sailed back to the Bahamas on a new boat (s/v Dawn Treader). But for now, I hope you enjoy another New Mexi-Castaways’ early beginnings podcast which helped set the stage for much bigger adventures ahead.
Thanks for listening!
Get the Full Episode Transcript:download the transcript
Theme Music: 00:00
Rosa Linda Román: 00:16 Hello again. It is Rosa Linda Román and this is New Mexicast audio edition, the newest iteration of my adventures into independent work. and I am on my way to meet with Toby Eunice who is a jack of many trades, but in this capacity that I'm meeting him on is, he is helping me with the film club that I have created for, the kids at my daughter's school. it's an elementary school. The club is for to, second through fifth graders and its in a relatively rural community, just outside of Albuquerque. and I have been doing this film club from the beginning of the school year. I had the idea last summer because there were many things going on in our school district. Two of the, area elementary schools closed because of really bad, financial distress of the district. And so they had to close two schools and merge into our school.
Rosa Linda Román: 01:28 And the process of that happening collided at the same time with all of the talk of these new tests called PARK. and many other things that were going on within the school district. A lot of people were up in arms, still are because our kids are taking a lot of tests. In fact, I don't think my daughter actually learned anything outside of a gifted and film club. She, she has a few areas that she gets pulled out too. But, this week was all about testing and when we get back from spring break, it will be the same. So anyway, all of these things were going on in the school. And as a parent who, you know, this is my first go around as a parent, two kids in an elementary school in this modern era. I didn't really know what to do about all that. Rosa Linda Román: 02:22 I have friends who are educators who do a lot of things, you know, a lot of lobbying and a lot of work, in terms of, trying to get their opinion out there and maybe make some changes through the system if you will, you know, working, through government channels or through the education system. But that's way outside of what my comfort zone is. and frankly, I don't really know, how I feel about a lot of the things, you know, merging schools. Well, if it had to happen, I feel like it needed to happen. But I also recognize that it was very difficult for a lot of people because many of these parents, their kids grew up in this district. So, needless to say, I mean they grew up in this district, so now their kids are going to have to go to a different school than they did.
Rosa Linda Román: 03:19 And you know, change can be hard. and then of course with the testing, the verdict is still out on that. And I guess it may be just my reporter background, but I, I try not to really, have a strong opinion or at least express that publicly. until I have enough facts, I like to gather information. but I knew immediately I could see that my daughter, Ahava who is in fourth grade now was, she went from being the kid in second grade who literally cried when the school year ended because she didn't want it to end cause she loves school so much to now, she really kind of feels like she's phoning it in. She's not excited about a lot of things. And that really scared me. So I guess at the same time that all these bigger societal issues were going on, I felt like I needed to do something if I could, to at least help my kids, stay excited.
Rosa Linda Román: 04:26 And I thought about my skill set and I realized, well, I could teach reporting, because obviously that's where my, my career and real skills, as far as training goes and, and life experience, career experience, was in mainstream broadcasting and then independent broadcasting. and so I thought, well, I could teach that, or my hobby for many years, has been filmmaking and I've done filmmaking since I was a reporter in Phoenix when I needed a break from, the murder and mayhem of being, one of the lead reporters in the newsroom. And I would cover daily whatever, you know, horrible story, child drowning, somebody murdered somebody, you know, awful stuff. And I needed a break from that negativity. So I got involved with some filmmakers, actually we were just screenwriters, dabbling in screenwriting really. And we created a group called Lime Wrangler.
Rosa Linda Román: 05:35 And we made some, we decided at some point we went to a film festival and we thought we could do that, a short film festival. And so we started making short films and I eventually, edited, I mean, directed a little movie called Cookies For Kelly, which I was very proud of. And we had some really, a lot of fun on that movie. And I've gone on, after that to go to do some projects here in New Mexico, through a really cool project called the 48hr Film Project where you get together a team and then you start the weekend with basically an assignment, a, a line of dialogue, a prop, a character, and you have to write, shoot, edit and turn in an entire film, about six minutes, I think, by the end of that 48 hours. So from Friday, I don't know, six or seven o'clock at night to Sunday at six, six, seven o'clock at night, you hand in this little film and then they have a little screening and festival and it's a, it's a lot of fun.
Rosa Linda Román: 06:46 So I was involved in some of those as well. So as I thought about my girl's school and what could I do, I mean, I've certainly have been volunteering, you know, helping to arrange Halloween or whatever parties or, volunteering on the PTO and where I've made some of my best friends now. so that was a great way to get involved, but I wanted to do something a little bit bigger for me and to use the skills that I actually came to this equation with. And so I started this film club. I call it Roadrunner Reels because the the school's mascot is, are the roadrunners. And, we have been meeting every week for, since, I don’t know, August. So now I can't even count, 8 months maybe. And now we are in the actual shooting of this movie, which is really wild to think about sometimes when I stop and, and realize I, I know a lot of people when they've learned about our film club, they think, oh, that's great.
Rosa Linda Román: 07:53 You're teaching them about movies, maybe movie appreciation. And I tried to explain that. No, actually we're making a movie with professional, with a professional crew. and the person, I'm on my way to meet his Toby Eunice, and he's our director of photography. And we had our first actual shoot last, on Monday, just this week. It feels like a long week because it was a lot. We basically have these kids. We went, I had them go through the process of learning screenwriting and we wrote the script together. Then we went through the process of casting. and they actually auditioned. I made all the kids audition. one boy opted out, but out of the 26 kids that I have every week, 25 of them auditioned. They all wanted the lead role. And that was actually part of what I, my intention was with this club. last year I, I saw the local talent show at the elementary school and I felt frustrated because out of the 50 acts that audition 50 made it and many of the kids were not prepared.
Rosa Linda Román: 09:05 And there was just some, I was, I felt very frustrated by the way it went. And you know, I understand. I don't want kids to be crushed or heartbroken, but I also think that there is a certain amount of a lesson that can be learned from not making something. maybe you work harder next time. Maybe, you know, you find that there's something else that you love more. And so it was really hard for me to actually, cast this film because it's not just my kids, but it's my best friend's kids and other kids at the school who have been dedicating their time to the film club from the beginning of the school year. So it was really, really hard. There were some really good little potential actors and actresses. but in the end I cast the movie with two, main characters and four secondary characters and now I brought him professional film crew and we are actually shooting this movie and eventually we will screen it in a theater at the end of the school year.
Rosa Linda Román: 10:06 So that's been taking up most of my time delightfully. So. And that's where I just recently just got an email from the station that runs New Mexicast, the TV show, which by the way, if you're just tuning in, New Mexicast is a half hour TV show that I created, on my own one woman band. I'm using my former mainstream media broadcasting skills. I had it as a video podcast originally and then I eventually evolved it to become a half hour show. And in December I wrapped a season two of New Mexicast. So I recently got a note from the folks at the TV station that runs my, my show saying, hey, how about season three? And I thought, well, I'm kind of at a place now where I'm gonna make sure that I want to do this before I move forward. So right now I'm having a great amount of fun making this film with these kids.
Rosa Linda Román: 11:05 The nice thing about filmmaking versus working independently, I'm on my show, is that I have a community and I get to experience the interaction with people on a, on a face to face real level. with New Mexicast, I tended to put the episodes out there and then I may or may not get a little feedback, but usually it was a lot of output and very little input. and that's very different than what this film production is. This gives me a chance to collaborate, to be back in the role of a teacher. Not that I ever was an actual teacher, but when we lived on a boat in The Bahamas, I stepped in at the local school, at the hope town elementary school. primary, I guess they call it there. And, they, when we came through, it was so cute because the principal was very smart.
Rosa Linda Román: 12:00 Candace Key. She said, we, we went there to see if our daughter Ahava could go to school there. We had heard that they accepted occasional transients, which is what we were coming through their community and they would let them go to school at their school. But in exchange she wanted to know, well, what can you contribute to our school? And I said, well, I, I can speak Spanish. And, Nathan, my husband is a physician and at the time we had a, a nanny who lived on board. she was just actually in between semesters. she, was, her name's Melissa Paskie, and she was going from her bachelor's degree in marine biology and waiting a semester before she started pursuing her master's degree. So we're like, hey, you want to live on a boat? What better place for a marine biologist? So she was great and she lived with us for I think two months or so.
Rosa Linda Román: 12:55 And so she also brought something to the table at that school. And you know, it's funny cause now that I'm talking about it, I really think that that set the stage for what I am doing with this film club. Because in the end when you feel like you don't know what to do, I feel like you look back at what do I already know and what can I do with that. because when we were living on a boat and you know, we show up at this school, I didn't know what I could contribute. there were obviously lots of, it's an island called Hope Town in the Abaco's of The Bahamas. And everybody there knew boating. So it wasn't like I was going to teach them anything about that. So sure enough, I became their temporary Spanish teacher and Nathan came in and taught some of the older kids, some, first aid and other, you know, first responder type stuff.
Rosa Linda Román: 13:52 And Melissa taught some, things about marine biology. So it was a, it was neat to see how we take what we know and apply that to help the kids learn something new. And that's basically what I'm doing with film club. So, I know this is a roundabout conversation, but basically I think that I'm at this point now where I think, okay, what can I contribute to the greater community? whether it is through New Mexicast or other ventures. And I do have some things on the stove cooking, which I'll get to in future episodes when they start to gel. But, for now I'm really enjoying this. I'm calling it the incubation period where I'm getting really clear on what I want to spend my time doing. One of the things that comes out of leaving mainstream media for me was this sense of panic that I had to, you know, I didn't want to lose my skills.
Rosa Linda Román: 14:57 I didn't want to, be seen as someone who just did nothing. I, you know, I, there were many, I had a lot of hangups. I don't know if everyone else feels this way when they leave a career that they spent so much time on, but I needed to work through that and that, New Mexicast did that for me. It gave me the chance to really, know that I can do this independently and, and it's totally wonderful and valid and I'm very proud of the effort that I've put into that. That being said, now I'm at this point where I'm like, okay, now I know I can do that. What else do I want to do? And that's where I am right now. one of the things that I'm looking at and I will, I'm sure make the announcement here when I finally, solidify that is how I can use my broadcasting skills from all those years in the mainstream media to help other people.
Rosa Linda Román: 15:55 so you can look for stuff about that in the future. But for now I think I'm just enjoying chatting and sharing my random thoughts. I wonder if I should, instead of calling this New Mexicast, just call it Rosa Linda's Random Thoughts. or maybe better yet. Rosa, Linda's Random Ramblings. but anyway, so, yeah, I'm about to get to where Toby is. I have to hand off the SD cards that he shot our little movie on on Monday cause he is a very busy guy doing a lot of things here in the very bustling New Mexico film industry. And so, I have to give him back his SD cards cause he needs some audio off of that. but anyway, I digress. I really appreciate you listening and, if you haven't had a chance to go back and look at my library of work that I've done through New Mexicast, I encourage you to do that. I have a whole bunch of episodes. I think I've done 60 stories independently and, there maybe 50, 50, about New Mexico and about just interesting places we've traveled to. So I hope you'll check that out and until next time, thanks for tuning in. I'm Rosa Linda Roman.