Copper Beech Elementary School in Abington, where he teaches fifth grade.
Portman, of Narberth, has been named Pennsylvania's 2007 U.S. Department of Education American Star of Teaching, an award that honors one teacher from each state and the District of Columbia. The program recognizes exemplary teachers who raise student achievement and use innovative classroom strategies.
Portman is the creator and producer of CBTV, a daily video program that presents news and events of Copper Beech to students and staff. The program uses the video hub system offered at Copper Beech. The technology can transmit an audio/video signal throughout the building rather than using the traditional intercom system.
CBTV's daily news and entertainment program airs during the day's last period, from 2:55 to 3:15 p.m. Monday through Friday, and features a mobile two-camera setup, an additional stationary camera, and a microphone for the news desk. Students watch the shows in their classrooms.
Broadcasts include lunch-menu choices, school announcements, weather-related notices, math contests, and special features such as "Meet the New Kid."
Portman, 51, has a bachelor's degree in English from Rutgers University, a master's degree in education from St. Joseph's University, and a doctorate in education from Widener University.
He has worked in the Abington School District for 14 years and has taught second, fifth and sixth grades. Portman is also Copper Beech's Web master, and posts photos and text about the school.
: Do students truly manage the show?
The kids cover all the parts and the running of the station. I produce/direct along with assistance from other teachers. Students run cameras, switch box, sound, perform news, weather, sports and more.
Is it only fifth graders?
Fifth graders are primarily involved, and this is something they look forward to when they move up from fourth grade. Guest and special appearances, though, range from the K-6 environs as well as staff, parents, administrators, and school board members.
When is the show produced?
While the show is televised daily, production takes place during the day, generally at our lunch break while working with the kids on ideas, acting, camera tips, and show fluency.
How is material selected for the broadcast?
The first criteria for inclusion is that there must be an educational reason for its use - although we love entertainment, especially zany comedy. Teachers, staff, administrators and students develop ideas and run them by our principal, Dr. Jan Kline, and myself. We're always on the lookout for interesting ways of delivering curriculum through an entertaining prism.
What's the best part about being a teacher?
Everything. It's a calling, not a choice. The best part about being a teacher is following the process and the product for each child to its emotional core - a journey that will change you as surely as it transforms the child.
What his principal says:
"Steve is a source of inspiration to children as well as adults. He begins every day with such a positive attitude and enthusiasm for teaching that it's contagious," Kline says.
"The key to his success is not how he teaches the subject matter to students, but how he teaches students to think. He creates an environment that fosters and nurtures inquiry, creativity, ideas, reflection and change."
- Erica Lamberg