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Cabin John Teacher Wins Pollin Award

At 7:55 a.m., it’s showtime for Bobbie Chase in a television production studio adjacent to the Cabin John Middle School media center.

On a recent Friday, Chase directed a crew of student news anchors, camera people and tech directors, including a half-dozen substitute crew members.

“It’s kind of daunting, but I’ve given up on perfection,” said Chase, relieved that the understudies came through. “I do love them – it’s such a crazy age.”

By the end of the year, 700 of Cabin John’s 1,000 students will participate in the news program, and Chase, a 35-year media specialist for county schools, has directed Cabin John’s news show since the school reopened in 1989-90.

“[The studio equipment] is very limited, and it’s older. However, Bobbie’s always able to put all that together,” said William Everly, assistant principal at Cabin John.

Chase received Abe Poulin Award for her years of impact on the community in a ceremony at MCI Center in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Jan. 19.

“HOW MUCH DO YOU remember from middle school?” said Cabin John Principal Donna Hollingshead. “It’s those extra special times and those extra special people, and she’s one of those people.”

Now a senior at Churchill, Morgan Hatten accompanied Chase when she received her award. “Everybody loved the news show that she put on,” said Hatten, the youngest of three siblings who attended Cabin John. “She’s a family friend, so I was excited for her.”

Hollingshead nominated Chase for her impact on the school system and community as a whole, citing her work with interns, media assistants and student teachers.

“I didn’t know about it ahead of time. Nobody interviewed me or asked me questions,” Chase said. “When I think of the community, I usually think outside these [school] walls.”

SEVERAL STUDENTS who first learned TV production from Chase have gone on to careers in broadcast journalism, including USA Network and the Sci-Fi Channel.

“When computers came along or TV came along, you learned on the job or you didn’t,” Chase said. “I embraced change, because that’s how you enjoy it.”

Chase visited Japan after being selected to the Fulbright Teacher Fellowship. She established writing correspondence between Cabin John students and Japanese students of the same age. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” said Chase, who has been invited to the Japanese Embassy since returning. “That’s opened up a lot of doors.”

In addition to the news program, Chase oversees production of an annual 8th-grade farewell yearbook, and made an orientation video for incoming 6th-graders.

“She gets practically every one of the kids in the school into her studio,” said Everly.