Podcast reveals hidden talent at Dougherty

Ashita Jewargi and Teju Anand

In order to help the community learn more about the school, DVHS Assistant Principal Demetrius Ball started a podcast about people in Dougherty who have achieved something or are on the path of creating something brilliant. The podcast is sponsored by Crow Canyon Orthodontics and each episode is around 10 to 20 minutes long.

“When I got to Dougherty last year we were in the middle of WASC and one of the things that came out was the perceptions about what kind of school Dougherty is. So I was like doing a podcast would allow us to tell our own story as opposed to letting the outside community have a bunch of assumptions about who Dougherty is and what we’re all about. So, just like anything, some preconceptions or some opinions are true, but there’s a lot more to what people seemed,” Mr. Ball said. “It gives students insight to what their opportunities are on this campus. It is good to get that kind of historical knowledge about the school.”

Mr. Ball was inspired to start a podcast a couple of years ago. Two to three years ago, he taught leadership at Howard High School in Howard County, Maryland. In that class he had given his students an assignment to create a ‘Passion Project.’

“I wanted them to build a project around something that they were passionate about and the only two requirements was that it had to be some type of product that they were producing and also had to be benefit someone other than yourself,” Mr. Ball said.

After he looked at his students’ projects, he decided to do a podcast as his own passion project. So he developed some skills which helped him produce a podcast at DV. He used the Internet as a tool to figure out how to produce a podcast. He listened to a podcast that introduced him to the website “Spreaker” where he could upload his podcast. His love for podcasts inspired him to start a podcast.

“One thing I really enjoy is building relationships. I really enjoy listening to podcasts because I can listen to it while washing dishes, or I could be doing yard work, or I can be in my car driving. And I love listening to the stories the folks have to stay. I listen to sports podcasts, news, and a lot of educational ones and I like to learn. That’s one of the reasons why I am an educator, so I am always trying to learn something new, something different, something cool people have going on in their life. I would be able to incorporate what I learn to help us make our school better,” Mr. Ball said.

Mr. Ball pays very close attention to what’s happening in our school. Every time there is some club, or a student that is trying to achieve something, or to promote something, or if there is a department that is trying out something new, then Mr. Ball asks them to feature in the podcast.

“Each episode will feature a member of our school’s leadership team. Our leadership team is every single person, student, staff, parent, that is part of our community. We all have a voice. Each team member will share how they are contributing to our community for the benefit of us,” Mr. Ball states in the podcast website.

There have been 31 episodes through April 9, 2018. The episodes always start with a catchy soundtrack and then Mr. Ball introduces the guest and gives a brief explanation on what that particular podcast is going to be about. Then he asks the speaker an open ended question and they proceed to have a long conversation about the topic. The first episode was released on the first week of school in August. It featured Mrs. Knapp, the DVHS Librarian, who spoke about WASC and its processes, and also school resources that aren’t very popular with the students. Episode 30 featured Quincy Zhao, a 2011 DV graduate, who is currently working for Wells Fargo in San Francisco.

“As far as my podcast experience, I came back to San Ramon and met Mr. Ball at DVHS on a Sunday for that episode. We sat down in his office for 30 minutes to share about my experiences before, during, and after my four years at DVHS as well as the lessons I’ve learned along the way till today. I would say that episode is full of reflective storytelling about my experiences to date,” Quinzy said.

Episode 31 aired on April 9 and the guest speaker was Coach Adam Seipel. Some of the things he talks about are the benefits of physical education and about his experience in developing DVHS’ strength and conditioning program. Episode 32 featured another 2011 DVHS graduate, Suk Bal. This was the first video call interview.

“I’m working full time at MGH/HMS researching primary brain tumors and I’m working part-time at a center that focuses on student mental health. I speak about mental health all over (BU, Northeastern, Harvard, the Indo-American Psychiatric Assn etc.) and I’m a grad student at BU getting my master’s in Public Health. They actually just featured me on their page,” alumni Bal said.

According to Mr. Ball, podcast really enhances what is there in a news article because one can lose a lot of context when not a part of the conversation. “When I’m listening to a podcast, even though I might not ever meet that person, I feel a stronger connection to that person because I hear their voice.”