Preschool and Elementary
In addition to providing the area’s children and families with a variety of educational programs such as Sesame Street, Curious George, Dinosaur Train and Clifford, WUFT-TV also supports “Martha Speaks” Reading Buddy program in three Alachua County elementary schools: Waldo Community School, Duval Elementary School and Finley Elementary School. WUFT’s Education Outreach Coordinator Mary Brandenburg works with school administrators and teachers to help increase the oral vocabulary of more than 120 students through this innovative program.
“Martha Speaks” Reading Buddy program is particularly beneficial at Waldo Community and Duval Elementary whose student populations are overwhelmingly economically disadvantaged. More than 89 percent of Duval Elementary students and 74 percent of Waldo Community students are considered economically disadvantaged by the No Child Left Behind School Public Accountability Reports.
WUFT-TV is the only local media outlet committed to providing children’s education programs.
WUFT-TV also serves as the training ground for future generations of journalists and multimedia professionals at the UF College of Journalism and Communications. Student reporters, producers and editors under the direction of College faculty members and staff produce daily local newscasts for the citizens of North Florida. Students work in all areas: news, sports and weather, and learn to report on multiple platforms.
A new Innovation News Center opened in 2013 that provides nearly 100 seats for reporters, producers and editors working together to report the news for the College’s many distribution channels, including WUFT-TV and wuft.org. The College’s students learn to report from multiple platforms, using the ROPE model – report once, publish everywhere.
These WUFT newscasts provide professional-level training and real-life experiences for hundreds of students on an annual basis and provide citizens with thorough coverage of important area events and issues. In 2013, the television station produced more than 300 live newscasts and more than 100 short-form news briefs and content products.
Mary Brandenburg, WUFT Education Outreach Coordinator
In her role as WUFT’s Education Outreach Coordinator, Brandenburg works with school administrators and teachers to impact children’s education through the “Martha Speaks” Reading Buddy program. A former teacher, Brandenburg had been retired from the school system when she heard about the opportunity to work with “Martha Speaks.” She said the position felt like a good fit because of her experience in education.
“I’ve always had a passion for reading and for teaching children how to read,” Brandenburg said, “working with children for whom learning to read is hard for them, is very rewarding.”
More than 120 students at the three Alachua County Elementary Schools participate in the program. Through educational games and activities inspired by PBS programming, students increase their oral vocabulary by understanding more than 40 new words.
“I’ve gone out to look at lessons and watching older students who come from difficult and challenging situations mentor the younger ones is very inspiring,” Brandenburg said.