Jeffrey Rudkin Receives 2022 MY HERO Teacher Award

by Deborah Neff, Staff writer from United States

149961Lora Batchelor Middle School Teacher Jeff RudkinJeff Rudkin, with permission

Jeffrey Rudkin will be receiving the 2022 MY HERO Teacher Award at the MY HERO 18th International Film Festival for his work teaching heroism through film-making, and his ongoing stellar middle school student submissions to MY HERO Film Festival. Beloved by his students, Mr. Rudkin guides them to create short documentary films about “ordinary people doing heroic things.”

“The study of heroes,” Rudkin told MY HERO, “gives the students role models to look up to. These are people who did things for other people. Especially unsung heroes, which require more research. The students discuss the stories of ordinary people doing heroic things and making the right choices, helping  the students to understand global world views.” 

Rudkin is your educators’ educator. With teaching certifications in social studies, music, business, and technology, he directed band for four years and has coached football, wrestling, and track. He’s been teaching with Lora Bachelor Middle School (LBMS) in Bloomington, Indiana for thirty-one years.

Inspired in his youth by his teachers and band leader, Rudkin knew early on that he would go to college and become a teacher. He later earned his B.A. and Master’s Degrees at Indiana University, majoring in secondary education. He also studied film-making and telecommunications, and had thought about becoming a film major. 

He was the first person in his extended family to attend college.

149962Mr. Rudkin's film classJeffrey Rudkin, with permission

Rudkin describes himself on his Facebook page:

I am the video production teacher at Batchelor Middle School in Bloomington, Indiana. My students have won over 300 national and international awards. I am a Milken Family Foundation National Educator, and an Indiana University Armstrong Educator. I have also coached football, wrestling, and track.

Rudkin loves where he works: “LBMS is special. When I walked in on his first day, I felt like I was home. It is a great school where the students and parents are very supportive and have a lot of school pride and spirit. The school has been a four star school a couple of times and was an A school for a several years."   

He added, "We have great parents and a great principal. And we get grants and hold fundraisers to buy film equipment. We were actually the Best Buy Teach Award National grant winners a few years ago received $100,000 from Best Buy. Most importantly, each year the parents help out with a chile supper and auction."

Making Films About Heroes in the Classroom

Rudkin teaches about heroism in both his Video I and Video II classes. Both are electives that include business, tech, video production, product marketing, and promotion, with 30 students per class. Here Rudkin exposes students to a wide variety of films and provides opportunities for students to succeed.

Video I students make their first documentary, which is a video biography. Their second biography is a hero in sports, history, or a parent, coach, or other unsung hero. 

Video II students, his eighth graders, do a project every six weeks where they create a PSA about a hero of their choice for competitions.The students are not required to submit films to film festivals, but it is strongly encouraged.

Mr. Rudkin grades the students' work based upon their storytelling ability, detail, and credits (60%) and on script writing (40%). The students must use professional guidelines regarding copyrighted photos and best research practices: their research skills really show in the films.

149963Jasmine Blossom Martoglio and Aurelia Sunshine Martoglio Jeffrey Rudkin, with permission

Mr. Rudkin's MH Student Film Festival Winners and Current Finalists

In 2021, sisters Jasmine Blossom Martoglio and Aurelia Sunshine Martoglio won the WOJ Youth Reporter Award for Thank a Hero: Maurice Hillemen, a short documentary about an unsung hero who "created an amazing amount of vaccines and made it possible for modern vaccines to work." 

During last year's film festival, Esther Wojicki lauded Thank a Hero as an “amazing film about an amazing subject:” “I could not believe it was done by middle school students,” she said, adding, “There are so many people in scientific research that do a lot of important work and are not recognized.”

Jasmine and Aurelia were online at the film festival to receive the award, where they thanked their teacher, Mr. Rudkin, “who helps kids improve on filmmaking and many students have won many awards in different festivals.”

A few of the many competitive awards that Rudkin’s students have won include:

  • C-Span Student Conference
  • Scholastic Art and Writing Award
  • Project POTUS
  • International Youth Silent Films

Rudkin told MY HERO: "My students have won a lot of awards in the International Student Media Festival and at the International Student Film Festival in Hollywood. I used to take students to the festival in Hollywood each year and on college visits to USC and Chapman U. I was also honored at this festival with the Award of Excellence alongside of Emmy winning actor Ed Asner."

This year, of eleven stellar film submissions to MY HERO’s Film Fest, eight Lora Batchelor Middle School films are festival finalists—some for several categories. These include:

  • Anne Frank, A Hero by Ashley Claire Stegemoller 
  • Dorothy Day, A Hero, by Everly Vee Clark 
  • Mahatma Gandhi, A Hero by Annika Smith, Everly Clark, and Olivia Beyers 
  • Malala, The Story of a Hero by Ashley Claire Stegemoller and Leighton Amanda Huffman 
  • Scott Joplin by Benjamin Thomas DeVries   
  • My Hero: Claudette Colvin by Nick Christopher Ransford   
  • The Forgotten Hero - Carl Lutz by Daniel Joseph Taylor   
  • Dian Fossey, A Hero by Everly Vee Clark

Rudkin’s students’ films are well-done cinematically, extremely well-researched, informative, and often profound, covering big topics about social justice, such as bullying, xenophobia, and the Holocaust. 

Mr. Rudkin is not only teaching film-making: he is teaching global citizenship. He has taken students four times to visit Auschwitz. He also organized exchange programs on Skype with classrooms from around the world, including New Zealand, England, Morocco, Spain, and China, and exchange visits to the US and a high school in England.

,149964Jeffrey Rudkin receives 2007 Milken Educator AwardJeffrey Rudkin, with permission

Rudkin has received several prestigious awards for his incredible work with students. For example, in 2007 he was awarded the Milken Foundation National Educator Award, the U.S. preeminent teacher recognition program, and in 2012 was a Lowell Milken Center Fellow.

In 2018 the Peacemaker Corps Association presented Rudkin with the “Art of Making Peace” Award at the United Nations in New York. 

A letter from Chair/President Carole Sumner Krechman stated,

On behalf of the the Peacemaker Corps, I am especially honored and excited to present you with our 2018 “Art of Making Peace” Award. Your outstanding leadership using video production to not only develop students' understanding of and sensitivity to profound issues such as bullying, xenophobia, the Holocaust and the importance of interactive global learning, but also creating transferable lifelong skills that will enable your young film makers to be tomorrow’s leaders and peacemakers on the world stage. We believe that you, Jeffery Rudkin, exemplify the true meaning of “Art of Making Peace” .

The Peacemaker Corps’ mission is to facilitate and support peace and tolerance education among the youth of the world.


For more information

Watch the Lora Batchelor Middle School finalist films:


See other LBMS films on C-Span (Student Cam):




Page created on 10/31/2022 3:24:59 PM

Last edited 1/19/2023 5:32:59 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.