Master Control Operator Chris James has been serving Newport News Public Schools for 22 years. Over the summer, she received congratulations, a big thank you, and a recognition pin in honor of her many years of service.
James started her career with the school system in 1994, as an Audio-Visual Clerk in Media Technology at the Teacher Resource Center (TRC), which was located in the PEEP building on Gatewood Road. With school-aged children, James wanted to "work on their school schedule," she said, so she applied with NNPS.
As a Certified Professional Secretary, she had the skills needed to work in an office, and had experience in the automotive and real estate industries. But with the Audio-Visual job, her career took a turn toward media and never turned back.
The TRC allowed librarians and teachers access to a media library of educational programs. In her five years at the TRC, James handled media on reel-to-reel films, then VHS tapes, then DVDs. She learned how to use a computer and also did off-air taping and duplicating of TV programs.
In 1999, James was transferred to the Telecommunications Center, where she continued the off-air taping and duplicating services, and also handled satellite downloads. She assisted with Channel 47's TV programming and scheduling, and started programming the in-school Metronet channel (Channel 27). She established and continues to maintain a tape library, which now contains over 2,200 programs. Mostly DVDs, these include content created by NNPS-TV, graduations, football games, and student productions.
Today, James programs NNPS-TV (Cox Channel 47/Verizon FiOS Channel 17), which means selecting new educational programming to purchase or download, uploading and cataloging it using an online tool made by TelVue, and scheduling when it will air on the channel. She also uploads video content created locally by the NNPS-TV production teams and Telecom students.
Looking for something NNPS-TV may have recorded? Use these forms to submit a request.Purchase DVD request form - Request a DVD copy of a sporting or other event (other than High School graduations).
Local productions include School Board meetings, Sports Highlights and Fuzion Fitness, plus all of NNPS-TV's quick news shows like This Just In, School View, School Board Spotlight, and Scouting Report. Special events like high school graduations and awards shows have to be scheduled ahead of time so the program air dates can be printed in the event program. School Board meetings, football games, and other productions need special handling, too, since they don't have a set length.
James also schedules public service announcements and promos, some of which are created by Telecom students. The Community Bulletin Board, a series of slides made in-house that runs along with music, is set as a default to run in between programs. When it's snowing out and school is canceled, or if a school must close unexpectedly, James programs the "emergency crawl," a running text notice that appears at the bottom of the TV screen.
James also continues to make DVD copies of graduations and other shows that viewers purchase.
Over the years, James has seen many changes in technology, especially as related to television and video.
"When I first started we used Beta tapes, then ¾ tapes, then D9s, then ½ tapes, then DVDs; now we are digital," she said.
She has started a digital library now, too, using an archive server on TelVue.
"One of my favorite parts of my job is that it is ever changing. You never know what you will learn on a day-to-day basis," said James.
"The best part is watching students learn to work together as a team and then go out in the world and become successful," she said. She loves it when Telecom graduates come back to visit.
James often gets phone calls from people looking for various videos, whether current or from the past. "I feel good when I can find an interview, song, or program someone needs," she said. "Or make a copy of an older program that someone, their son or daughter, or loved one was in," she added.
Outside of work, James likes to read, watch the Atlanta Braves, and spend time with her granddaughter. She also loves to go on cruises, and has been to some exciting places like Nova Scotia, the Bahamas, Bermuda and Jamaica.
"I have been blessed to work with a lot of talented, caring people," said James of her career with the schools. But she added, "I am looking forward to retiring in a couple of years."
When that happens, there will be a big "gap in programming" at the Telecom office for sure!