WOJ Youth Reporter Awards and Teacher Award

by Abigail Richardson from MY HERO Staff Writer


For Immediate Release

Contact: Abigail Richardson

MY HERO Staff Writer

[email protected]


MY HERO’s 18th International Film Festival WOJ Youth Reporter Awards and the MY HERO Teacher Award

The WOJ Youth Reporter Award celebrates youth reporters who are creating videos on heroes making a positive difference in their community and the world. The WOJ Youth Reporter Award is sponsored by Tract in honor of its co-founder Esther Wojcicki, an outstanding media arts educator and author. 

At the 2022 International FIlm Festival, three winners were honored. Esther Wojcicki spoke about how she hoped to give young people the ability to empower themselves and make change in their world. Two of the films are about forgotten heroes ‘that people should know about.’ The film about Amelia Earhart was, she said, incredible for a middle school student.

Winner of the High School Documentary was Ben Caloza from Providence High School 

150170WOJ WinnerMY HERO

For his film 'The story of José Rizal'. 'The story of José Rizal' is a short biographical film about the life and death of José Rizal, considered by many to be a national hero of the Philippines.

Said Caloza, in a previous interview with MY HERO: “Although he is not very well known outside of the Philippines, his life was incredibly fascinating, and his written works (namely "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo") are still lauded today as foundational texts of the Filipino national identity. I believe Rizal's story deserves to be heard by a wider audience, and his contributions celebrated by the world.

150168WOJ Winner Middle SchoolMY HERO

The Middle School Documentary winning film went to Daniel Joseph Taylor from the Quinn Reynolds Lora Batchelor Middle School for his film 'The Forgotten Hero - Carl Lutz'. Carl Lutz was a Swiss diplomat who conducted a rescue operation in Budapest, Hungary that saved more than 62,000 Jews.

Taylor is passionate about video production. “To me, filmmaking isn’t just a hobby, it’s a way to enjoy life, participate in wholesome recreational activities, and bond with your peers and the people who help you make your film,” Taylor told MY HERO in a previous interview. “I’ve enjoyed many hours making movies with my friends and hope to enjoy many more. I am also passionate about the Holocaust, and our video production class has made many films on that particular subject. After researching him [Carl Lutz] further, I knew he was a hero and would make a good candidate for the MY HERO film festival,” Taylor said. Often referred to as “the forgotten hero,” Carl Lutz “stepped up and saved tens of thousands of innocent Jews. He should be forever regarded as an unsung hero.” 

150169WOJ WinnerMY HERO

The Middle School Women Heroes award went to Annika Smith and Quinn Reynolds from Lora Batchelor Middle School for her film,  'Amelia Earhart'. Esther declared that Daniel Quinn and Annika’s teacher (Jeffrey Rudkin – see below) should be congratulated for encouraging Annika, Daniel and Scott Joplin (a 2022 finalist) to create and submit such important films, asserting that this dedication to teaching should be an example for the world. MY HERO agreed as the 2022 Teacher Award went to Jeffrey Rudkin for his work on heroism and his ongoing stellar middle school student submissions to MY HERO Film Festival.

150164Jeffrey RudkinCourtesy of Jeffrey RudkinMY HERO Teacher Award

MY HERO honored Jeffrey Rudkin of Lora Batchelor Middle School with the 2022 Teacher Award. Mr. Rudkin teaches video production and photography at Lora Batchelor Middle School in Indiana. Beloved by his students, Mr. Rudkin guides them to create short documentary films about ‘ordinary people doing heroic things.’ At the ceremony, the film festival audience had the opportunity to view a short film about Mr. Rudkin made by a seventh graders. During the video we learned that his dedication to students and his passion for filmmaking has made a positive impact at the school. Said one of the students: “Mr Rudkin is an amazing teacher and listener. He’s kind, funny and a great dancer! He is a huge source of pride for our school.”

Said Rudkin: “The study of heroes, 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 and help the students to understand global world views.”

For more information

Watch the student film about Jeffrey: /2022-teacher-award-jeffrey-rudkin

Watch the Lora Batchelor Middle School finalist films: /lora-batchelor-middle-school-films

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

To see previous Youth Reporter winners got to: /the-woj-youth-reporter-award

About MY HERO International Film Festival

The MY HERO International Film Festival brings together professional and youth filmmakers who honour local and global heroes working for positive change in the world.  Thanks to generous sponsors, prizes are awarded to elementary, middle school, high school, college and professionals in a variety of categories including documentary, narrative, music video, animation, experimental, and more.

To find out more about the Film Festival go to: /Films/festival

To discover previous Global Educator award winners go to: /global-educator-award-winners

Join us for the Family-Friendly Awards Celebration on December 10, 2022, at 10 am (PST). Festival winners and their heroes will be on hand to answer questions and share their stories. Short clips from select films will be screened. Categories include narrative, documentary, music videos, animation, experimental, trailers, spoken word and PSAs. Awards are given to winners at Elementary, Middle School, High School, College and Professional levels. Register HERE.

Page created on 11/23/2022 5:10:30 PM

Last edited 11/24/2022 8:52:11 AM

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.