Micah Davis is an Eau Claire-based award-winning video creator who, with his creative partner Steve Betchkal of Story Time with Steve & Micah, has created the powerful PUBLIC SCHOOLS UNITE US video series, one of which has recently received a regional Emmy nomination!
We asked Micah some questions about his work, what inspires him, and how this inspirational series can help us unite our communities around public education.
Tell us a little about yourselves as artists and storytellers, and your vision for the Public Schools Unite Us project.
I get really excited about telling stories that celebrate something wonderful in our world. Helping to share these Public Schools Unite Us stories is an absolute joy. I feel so nourished and energized when watching the joyful reunion between a grateful student and a proud teacher, and I hope that same feeling carries through to the viewer.
Congratulations on your recent Midwest Emmy nomination for the video about Howard and Zach!! What are you most proud of in that video and the well-deserved nomination it has received?
As a video creator, I had a lot of fun making the graphic of the jam player at Zorn Arena, I was very proud of the sound design, and the visual. Even though Jazz never had to compete directly with a live basketball game, I added the sound of a game to show how it might feel playing in a hot gymnasium that is meant for athletics, not music.
I also had a blast creating the two photo montages, one representing the Eau Claire music scene and another one right towards the end, that starts with Zach on the piano, and zooms out to reveal all of the impressive architecture that Zach has helped manifest in Eau Claire. My hope was to show how Zach’s vision for Eau Claire is like a song he is playing. And I really like the piano keys in the sky in that image.
What moments or lessons stand out in your mind from the process of putting together these videos so far?
I have to say that the deep admiration and affection between Zach and Howard was inspiring. It was sweet to see when Howard complimented Zach’s musical abilities that, even after all of Zach’s massive success, you could tell that Howard’s kind words still mean a lot to him.
What does the phrase PUBLIC SCHOOLS UNITE US mean to you? How does it appear in your lives?
Witnessing these positive relationships that come out of our public schools has helped me feel more comfortable as my son starts Kindergarten. While I’m not wild about everything he may experience in school, I’m excited for him to make some supportive, nurturing, hopefully lifelong connections.
What else do you hope viewers and audiences know about you and this project?
We all know public schools aren’t perfect. I worked as a SEA at an elementary school in Wisconsin, and I was honestly appalled by the priorities of our public education system, telling children to hurry much of the time for instance – I feel like we need to encourage mindfulness and quality in our daily lives, not rushing around mindlessly. I personally didn’t enjoy much of my public education experience. While there were many kind and inspiring teachers in my schools, I never shared that deep connection that we see in these videos.
My hope is with this project, it helps teachers, principals, and other staff see that the quality of their interactions with students is far more important than the quantity of knowledge that is learned. And let’s get that message up to the policy makers, so that we allow the time and space for these truly important relationships to blossom.