Thank you Alma!
"I had many TV heros growing up and one of the main ones was ZORRO. The ZORRO I grew up on was the Guy Williams version which is still my favorite.
I found out from a small clip in the "TV Guide" that the Family Channel was doing a remake of ZORRO as a new series for their channel. When I read that I was not thrilled because most new versions of classic TV shows are terrible and often take away from the moral character of the original. For example, look at what the movies did to the TV version of BATMAN. I would never recommend any of the BATMAN movies to a young person. When I first saw the new version of ZORRO I was confused and disappointed. There was no introduction about who the deaf boy was or the girlfriend etc. the storyline was not clear and I liked Ducan Regehr as ZORRO but not as Don Diego. I also missed the Spanish accents present in Disney's ZORRO and in the whole cast. Most of these mistakes, which almost lost me as a viewer, were cleared up after seeing the TV movie. They should have aired the movie before the series began instead of as an after thought. After seeing the movie everything fell into place.
I have seen all the movies and serials make about ZORRO including the silent screen versions and foreign versions.
I am the District Media Center Technician for the entire Covington Public School System of the greater Cincinnati area which consists of 10 inner city schools. I select, purchase and develope educational programs and kits for teachers to use for all grade levels. My job includes video purchasing and taping off of TV.
In our school system there was a high drop-out rate. Our students had low self-esteem, and in some cases students were placed in special classes because they had tried to kill themselves.
I knew one of the major problems was that our students saw no reason for life, they had no direction or goals they did not expect to have a future much less a need for a good education. Peer pressure was so great that intelligent students would just sit back and pass at the bare minimum to avoid persecution.
I was a inner city kid myself, and grew up under similar circumstances. What changed my attitude were my TV heros. All of them were educated and used their education, they had ideals to shoot for and they did not just accept problems as they are and wallow in them with self pity. They always showed that every problem can be over come with truth and justice. The good guy always wins.
Today, the TV characters are not like that at all. They reflect what society is instead of what it can be. They are always sleeping with their girlfriends, cussing, drinking or just feeling sorry for themselves as victims. I knew if I could find the right clean cut hero or role model for these students it might help them like it did me. After a three year search I found that role model in the Family Channels ZORRO ( I talked them into changing the title of the series to the NEW ZORRO to distinguish it from the Disney version.)
The episode that triggered me to be able to use it for educational purposes was "Water". I did an outline from the episode that covered every subject including math, science, social studies, art, language and especially personal development. I found out I could do this with all the episodes. I wrote to the director ( Michael Levine) of the episodes I was most impressed with and asked for rights to video tape the shows and use them with the guides I had developed with really high risk students in my building (the ones who had tried to kill themselves) and if it worked to use it, the TV series with my guides with students in other buildings. I only wrote for legal permission to do this. I did not try to sell any ideas or anything. He called me the same day he received the letter and was excited. He asked if I thought my guides along with the show would work nationally. I said yes, high-risk students are the same everywhere and that good students would benefit from it as a confirmation to their lifestyle. He told me to try it in my building and keep in touch. I did and the results were so astounding that he flew all the way to our school to see it for himself. I notified the Family Channel as to what I was doing so I would not get in trouble legally. They totally approved and one of their field representatives (Tim Sommers) came to visit. He as so overwhelmed he contacted his boss from my office and decided to have a ZORRO DAY at our school to film and air as a short on their network. When all the big shots came to that event they decided to publish my guides for national school use. The person they placed me with decided she wanted me to make 10 of the guides longer instead of using all of the three page guides (one for each episode) used each week all school year. I tried to get across that these kids have long term problems and that 10 episodes will not do it. It takes weekly viewing and reinforcement with classroom activity. The main thing the teachers liked was the simple style I did the guides in. Teachers are too busy for long drawn out guides. The Family Channel wanted to be involved with Cable in the Classroom and air the programs without advertisements and they did not want to air more than 10 episodes commercial free. I had no choice but to make 10 guides longer.
We used the episodes with commercials in out schools and the students and teachers liked it better because it gave them natural breaks to discuss what had just been seen. The ZORRO guides went over so well that the Family Channel asked me to do ROOTS. After that they asked if I had suggestions for other guides, which I did. I also did guides for BIG BROTHER JAKE. Letters came in wanting more ZORRO guides for more episodes. Teachers had their kids motivated and needed more because 10 was not enough for long term changes. I still had all the other guides in 3 page format but The Family Channel would not do any more. They planned on cancelling the series, and they did.
The ZORRO guides were used in a least 36 states that I know of. When "The National Cable TV Association" read about it in Cable in the Classroom magazine that selected it as the most innovative used of cable TV in the nation and did ads and write ups about it in national publications (People, Time, USA TODAY, Washington Post etc.). A drug abuse organization contacted President Bush's office about the guides and had me go to Washington D.C. and speak to one of the heads of the President's Drug Advisory council about the method I developed to reach these high risk kids
Since ZORRO I have written guides for several other companies and organizations. I am not involved with the Family Channel at this time. I hope the series will be reaired on a different network and all the original guides published for teacher use. There are kids out there still needing help from the masked man."