Seeking to reverse a prolonged staffing shortfall, Newark Public Schools in New Jersey tapped the most persuasive recruiters they could find—namely, their students—to lure teachers and administrators into the fold.
The kids and teens star in "Roll Call," a rousing short film developed with creative agency Palette Group. Scenes from classrooms and extracurriculars really pop, while Keliana, a senior at Arts High School, provides a spirited voiceover, working the mic like a pro.
"Calling our future," she begins. "Calling all artists, believers, deep thinkers, pioneers, poets. Those who shift the culture deeper into the real, the authentic, the true. Calling all who believe first place is the only place. Those who achieve excellence and know there's still a long way to go."
"Calling the great educators, the 'old-ways-ain't-so-bad-ways' folks, those who know building something that lasts forever starts with the first brick," Keliana continues. "Calling all who get knocked down and keep rising. Who go through the wringer and return to peace, joy, and love—always."
The pitch concludes with the line, "Welcome to Newark Public Schools. Let's go to work."
"Roll Call" follows Palette's similar "Love Letter to Newark," an evocative 2021 tourism video featuring spoken-word riffs from Mayor Ras J. Baraka. Both films share the same narrative flow, cinematic style and sense of pride. Each salutes the vibrant culture and diversity of Newark—with "Roll Call" inviting prospective employees to sample what the city and school district can offer. The work also exudes a sense of camaraderie, suggesting students and teachers will work together to build a better tomorrow.
"The district hired us to capture the essence of the student body and ensure people considering working in education consider Newark Board of Education first," says Nate Nichols, Palette's founder and creative director. "We want people to see the beauty of the children throughout the school district. We want them to feel the pride the students have in their lived experience."
Filming at some half-dozen schools provided a special experience for the crew, says producer Isaiah Little. He recalls "countless moments with the students: from the collective goosebumps recording the voiceover ... to crew members kneeling with first graders to provide direction and playing HORSE with the girls' basketball team and catch with the football teams."
Though vacancies persist, Newark Public Schools has made strides. In recent months, the district hired more than 600 educators following a starting salary boost to $62,000, which ranks among the highest in the nation.
Producer, Isaiah Little, @designsbyzay_
Associate Producer, Suliya Gisele, @suliyagisele
Executive Producer, Steffi Behringer, @steffliiii
Creative Director, Nate Nichols, @the_nichols
Director, Abraham Felix, @abhmflx
Composer, Roc Mangan @producedbyroc
DP, Bradley Credit, @bradleycreditdp
AD, Ya Jing Wu, @yabiyabiyajing
2nd AD, Greyson Horst
AC, Jadzia Erskine, @jadzia_dp
AC/DIT, Rikki Porter, @rikkiportercinematography
Gaffer, Esteban Veras, @tebanvera
Grip, Avery Bowling, @takenbyavery
Grip, Jeremy Gutierrez, @grandmasterjerm
PA, Asia Jones, @asiakristinajones
PA, Zakyia Abdul-Malik, @Zakiyajaha_
Senior Editor, BB Blanchard, @BB_Blanchard
Colorist, Jacob McKee, @jalob
Production Designer, Brianna Sealey, @briannas.designs
PA, Valerie Pugh, @veemunny
PA, Juan Oquendo, @juan._.angell
Catering, F & B Catering, @fbcatering
HMUA, Sonaya Styles, @sonayastyles
Stylist, Tiffany, @tiff_styles_u2
Wardrobe Assist, Binta Balde, @being.binta
Wardrobe Assist, Eula Lovett
Driver/Swing, Robert Lak, @robbielak21
Talent, Newark Public Schools Students & Staff, @newarkpublicschools
BTS photography, Malaika Muindi, @malaikamuindi
Client, Newark Public Schools, @newarkpublicschools
Production Company, @palettegrp