Students at Fairfax Academy are devastated that one of their most beloved teachers appears to be losing his job due to budget cuts.
Now, they are fighting to show Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) how much the teacher is valued in an effort to try and save his job.
Students, alumni, parents and supporters have started an online petition on Change.org on behalf of Dave Ruby, a teacher in the school's Professional Television Production program, and leader of the student-run production company, Digital Wave Productions.
"Students have been devastated to discover that beloved teacher, Mr. Dave Ruby, had been laid off," said 11th-grader Sarah Heaton, 17. "He is admired by all his students and no one wants to see him go."
Sarah and other students say, many graduates of the Professional Television Production program have gone on to make valuable contacts in the industry and earn lucrative jobs because of their experiences working with the student-run company, Digital Wave. She said, without Mr. Ruby, Digital Wave will almost certainly be shut down, as Ruby was the one to run it.
"Due to the caliber of his instruction, many of his students are now successful in the film and video field," said Arielle Bryant, one of the founders of the petition on Change.org to save Ruby's job.
"He gives his students real insight into the industry of film and television - one that is growing more rapidly than almost any other industry today," Bryant continued. "He worked in the industry and still maintains good relations with contacts in the industry, such as an executive at Daily Motion. Mr. Ruby has, on multiple occasions, introduced his contacts to students, giving his students valuable opportunities and information."
As more than 400 have signed the online petition, many of them have left messages of their admiration for Ruby, and how his instruction has benefited them beyond their years at the school.
"As a junior in high school, I came into the Academy with a basic interest in movies. I emerged from the program a well-rounded student of film. I was accepted into the university of my dreams because of the technical and creative skills that were instilled in me through the Academy, and I've had a huge advantage applying to professional jobs and internships because of what the Academy taught me," wrote Kristina Rathjen of Centreville.
"Beyond the basics of editing and camera work, the Academy molded me into a young professional. I learned how to network. I gained confidence working with professional clients to create polished products. I learned to navigate the legalities behind filmmaking," Rathjen continued. "To this day, I credit Mr. Ruby for teaching me how to market myself through something as basic as a professional résumé. The lessons that I learned in TV Pro extend far beyond the television studio. These are proven real world skills that are helping me break into the professional industry."
"This is preposterous that his position would be called into question," wrote Cory Singleton of Fairfax. "He's the one teacher in the area whom everyone goes to with the intent of learning TV Production."
"This teacher is young, energetic, and passionate about what he does. He is the last teacher in my mind that deserves to be laid off," wrote Austin Kendall of Oak Hill. "I have never met a more real and personable person, that understands both how to teach, and also how to communicate with students."
Current student Sarah Heaton said, however, Ruby may not be the only teacher losing his job due to budget cuts - she said she has heard talk that other TV production classes at other schools in FCPS may be cut soon as well.
Patch is waiting to confirm the status of the program at county high schools
Sarah says, Mr. Ruby's supporters such as herself are not done fighting, and they urge more to sign the petition, found here on Change.org.
As of Sunday, April 21, the Professional Television Production course is still advertised on the Fairfax Academy website, along with Dave Ruby's biography and picture.
Do you have a child who is currently taking or took Dave Ruby's Professional Television Production class at Fairfax Academy? Tell us in the comments.