the annual Telemiracle Tel-a-thon, a lot of attention justifiably goes to the
on-air personalities and entertainers (known as the National Cast) who work
hard to encourage donations and keep the show going but behind them is a
veritable army of volunteers fulfilling a wide variety of crucial roles. At
this year’s Telemiracle, seven of those roles were filled by teachers from the
Sun West School Division.
Kara Petterson, Stacy Becker, Jody Polowick, Terry Epp, Rebecca Epp, Allison de Huber and Nicole McLauchlin all put in long hours not only during the TeleMiracle weekend but in some cases for months prior to the Tele-a-thon as they were trained for speciality roles and helped with the planning of one of Saskatchewan’s most iconic events.
Allison de Huber was a Floor Director and in that capacity she helped coordinate between the show directors and producers and the on-air personalities and entertainers. She said: “I was on a headset listening to the director/producers and helping relay to the national cast where to stand, who was coming next and changes to the program. It’s amazing being that close to the production of the show that’s live on TV and I felt a real part of the cause being in that role.”
Nicole McLauchlin was part of the Production Crew and her work was called data crawl. Her job was to decipher notes from the phone volunteers and transfer the data to a spreadsheet so that the names would appear on the bottom of the screen indicating what donations had been made and by who. Nicole said: “Being behind the scenes at TeleMiracle allowed me to be part of the magic and feel the of giving in my soul.”
Stacy Becker was an Assistant Floor Director and helped the Floor Directors coordinate with the National Cast. She said: “It was a great experience and I learned so much. I was happy to give my time to this organization especially because our school choir (Walter Aseltine School in Rosetown) was part of the Saskatchewan talent [that performed during the show].”
Kara Petterson divided her time between being an Assistant Floor Director and an Assistant to the Producers. Kara explained: “I learned very quickly how fast change happens in a live production, as Floor Director Assistant I had to follow all directions given via headset to help support the floor director in any changes to the script. As Assistant to the Producers I was their extra eyes, ears, arms and legs! It was intense and exhilarating, an incredible immersive experience that fills your heart and feels wonderful to be a part of.”
Terry and Rebecca Epp were both Production Volunteer Coordinators. They were responsible for recruiting, scheduling and managing volunteer camera operators, stage directors, stage left and right coordinators, production assistants, remote coordinators, switchers, assistants to the producers, data entry personnel, audience prompters and audio assistants. These are mostly skilled jobs and are crucial to the entire production. In total they recruited 47 volunteers who worked over 300 shifts during TeleMiracle and put in almost 700 hours of time.
Terry also made a point of providing any Sun West students and staff who came to the TeleMiracle Tel-a-thon at the Prairieland Exhibition in Saskatoon with a guided, behind-the-scenes tour of the whole TeleMiracle operation.
Rebecca said that TeleMiracle “was one of the best experiences that I have ever had” and that the other volunteers were “the best people to work with.”
Jody Polowick has been involved with TeleMiracle for years. Her first experience volunteering for TeleMiracle was in 1979 when she was eleven! Then, her job was to run messages backstage from the producer's desk to the other side of the stage where, the crew and entertainers were. She stated: “Over the years I have volunteered in almost every production job that there has been. This past year, I reduced my teaching contract and took on the role of Producer along with Adrienne and Josh Fedorowich. Producing TeleMiracle has been a complete honour as this show has become synonymous with the people of Saskatchewan and their spirit of giving. There is no other show like this anywhere else in the world!”
Speaking of Jody’s dedication to TeleMiracle, Stacy stated: “Jody was a big part of this and reason that many of us were there [as TeleMiracle volunteers].” Jody said in response: “This crew from Sun West were all rock stars. They excelled even though it was their first time doing some of these jobs.”
Rebecca explained why teachers were often so good in these kinds of jobs: “We saw that teachers had all the right skills and were a natural for the types of positions we were responsible with filling. Teachers are adaptable, flexible, used to changing plans on the fly while remaining calm even in stressful situations. They learn new skills quickly and they are reliable and dependable. That is what live television is all about!”
Vicki Moore, Sun West Director of Education said: “This year TeleMiracle raised an impressive 5.5 million dollars. These Sun West teachers were a big part of that success. They are a credit to our Division and to our profession. Thank so much!”
Pictured above: Sun West staff members who had major volunteer roles at Telemiracle. (Left to right) Kara Petterson – Production (DLC), Stacy Becker - Production (Walter Aseltine School in Rosetown), Jody Polowick – Producer (DLC), Terry Epp – Production Volunteer Coordinator (Technology Coach), Rebecca Epp – Production Volunteer Coordinator (Kenaston School), Allison de Huber – Floor Director (DLC) and Nicole McLauchlin - Production (DLC).