Former CTE students carve career paths in sports videography

Former Ross Collins Career and Technical Center (Meridian Public School District) student Jae’Lawn Green (left) and Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons observe drills at a Titans practice in Nashville, Tennessee. Simmons played at Noxubee County High School (Noxubee County School District) in Macon and Mississippi State University before being drafted 19th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Photo credit: Donald Page, Tennessee Titans Team Photographer/Visual Asset Manager

By Brock Turnipseed
Connections Magazine

Jae’Lawn Green and Emma Harrington did not set out for careers in sports videography, but the skills they learned in high school helped them find success in the industry. They are both examples of how career technical education (CTE) and the career academy model are giving students the soft and technical skills needed to be successful in the workforce regardless of the career path.

Green aspired for a career in health care after participating in the health science pathway at Meridian Public School District’s Ross Collins Career and Technical Center (RCCTC), but an introduction to sports videography as a student at the University of Mississippi led to a video position with the National Football League’s (NFL’s) Tennessee Titans.

Harrington had visions of pursuing theater or engineering but joining Madison Central High School’s (MCHS’s) Multimedia and Communications Career Academy sparked a passion for sports that continues as a student worker in the University of Mississippi’s award-winning Ole Miss Sports Productions.

CTE Teaches Green to “Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable”

After playing in the Ole Miss band his first year in Oxford, Green wanted to try a new gameday experience. A friend suggested he look at the video staff that filmed and edited game film for the Rebels’ football team. That experience led him to put career aspirations in health care administration on hold to pursue a video position with the Titans.

“I figured what better time to do it than right now after graduating from college with the experience I gained from working with the Ole Miss football program,” Green said.

His role with the Titans includes filming practices and games, editing and logging the footage for coaches and players and providing technical support with the organization’s video systems. While he has assigned tasks, the sports industry can be unpredictable, he said, necessitating the need to “be comfortable being uncomfortable,” a lesson he learned at RCCTC.

During clinicals, he could be in the emergency room one day and the labor and delivery unit the next. Each presented its own challenges, necessitating the ability to think quickly when unexpected issues arise.

“I grew, learned more about myself and stepped out of my comfort zone when I was in health science,” Green said. “It helps with critical thinking skills because you have to think on the spot and be prepared for anything. It’s similar working for an NFL program. I have my daily duties that stay the same, but if something goes wrong — say one of the programs we use to get the coaches’ film goes down — we have to think quickly and do anything we can to get the systems back up and running.”

Making sure coaches and players have what they need to be successful means the Titans’ video staff must be a cohesive unit, similar to what he learned through health science and competing with a partner in HOSA — Future Health Professionals (HOSA), the health science pathway’s student organization.

“Health science and HOSA were all about learning to work with others. If you can get help from someone else, you should because a lot of jobs take more than one person. For an entire roster of players and a full staff of coaches, it takes a team,” Green said.

Devra Massey, Green’s former health science teacher who is now a school nurse at Northeast Lauderdale Middle School, saw Green mature into a leader who helped his peers prepare for HOSA competitions.

“I feel like it made him be a leader and made him step up,” Massey said. “Once you gave him that responsibility in a leadership role, he really excelled in helping others and teaching them to be successful.”

Massey said Green would be an asset to the health care community, but the soft skills he learned in health science would translate to success in any career path.

“I always saw him setting a goal, reaching for that goal and completing it,” she said. “It makes me so happy that he has accomplished so much, and it’s his work ethic that has gotten him here.”

RCCTC Director Rob Smith said Green is an example of how career and technical education (CTE) offers skills that allow students to be successful regardless of their career path.

“With CTE, there’s this constant theme of preparing you for your future and workplace skills,” Smith said. “Industry is telling us they need a certain subset of skills, and regardless of what program you’re in, whether it’s at Ross Collins or any CTE program, you’re going to get those attributes.”

Green advises younger students pursuing CTE to “always learn from your experiences.”

“I learned so much about health care that is helpful, but I also learned various life skills — teamwork, leadership and critical thinking skills — that are helpful in many different fields,” he said.

Harrington Takes Love of Storytelling to the Sidelines

Harrington planned to enter MCHS’s engineering career academy and follow her parents’ career path, but exposure to the multimedia and communications career academy showed her she could take a lifelong passion for theater and translate it to the screen and the sports industry.

David Cress, Harrington’s history and high-tech video production instructor and current director of career academies and innovative programs for the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), said he saw Harrington “bursting at the seams to do something to show her talent” after she saw the content being produced through the multimedia and communications career academy.

The career academy — an innovative education model that combines academic and CTE courses to help students be college and career ready — allowed her to tap into her knowledge of acting, set design and costuming while exposing her to other areas of production, including cinematography and editing.

Students shot and produced content for the Jaguars’ various sporting events as part of their academy classes, and she was hooked from the first time she covered a game from the sideline.

“It was so much fun. I started to love sports because the sideline perspective is completely different and humanizes the athletes,” Harrington said. “I would have never known this kind of digital content creation was an option without the academy courses. I wouldn’t be working where I am now and absolutely loving what I do now.”

Even though her focus was shifting toward sports, her theater background still served her well in putting together content for MCHS athletics and now various sports at Ole Miss.

“There’s a certain level of storytelling and theatrics to any sport, especially football,” Josh Stanford, Harrington’s English and broadcast journalism teacher and a program supervisor in MDE’s Office of CTE, said. “She got really good at being able to take a football game and tell the story through these short videos she was putting out each week.”

Harrington’s career academy experience exposed her to more than just sports. It allowed her to interview Gov. Tate Reeves, put her between Fox News and CNN at the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and gave her the tools to create a documentary about the plane crash that claimed the lives of members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The training she received in her career academy helped her earn numerous awards, including the 2020 Mike Wallace Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and gave her a head start with Ole Miss Sports Productions.

“I feel that I’m way ahead because of all of my training in high school,” she said. “Honestly, I could have come out of high school and had a high-paying, full-time job right now.”

The sophomore integrated marketing and communication major produces hype videos, player profiles and other content for Ole Miss women’s golf, spirit and football squads. She also developed an episode of the school’s documentary-style reality show “The Season” that highlighted women’s golf winning the 2021 NCAA championship.

“Many students have video production skills coming into our program, but few have been as advanced as Emma,” Will Day, an Ole Miss Sports Production content producer, said. “She was able to slide in and excel at our basic student workers’ tasks quickly and has aced every opportunity that’s come up for her.”

Harrington hopes to continue in digital content production in the professional sports ranks or with Disney Parks, but eventually she plans to return to an educational setting and introduce a new generation of students to video production like her teachers did for her.

“It’s a tremendous compliment. It’s like that feeling in your heart you get when you see one of your kids do something better than you did it,” Stanford said of Harrington’s desire to give back to students.

Cress said Harrington is already giving back to those following her career academy class, returning to MCHS to mentor students on Friday.

Connections is the magazine for K-12 career and technical education (CTE) in Mississippi. The biannual publication features students, educators, schools and organizations from approximately 50 career pathways across 16 career clusters. This Mississippi Department of Education publication is produced by the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State nights University. Issues are disseminated in print and electronic forms in May and December each year. To be added to mailing list, please send your email address to


Jae’Lawn Green poses for a graduation photograph inside the University of Mississippi’s Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center. Photo credit: DeArrius Rhymes, High Quality Productions LLC


Former Madison Central High School (MCHS) multimedia and communications career academy student Emma Harrington stands on the sideline at the University of Mississippi’s (UM’s) Vaught-Hemingway Stadium prior to the Rebels’ Oct. 9 game against the University of Arkansas. A sophomore at UM, Harrington is a student assistant videographer for Ole Miss Sports Productions.


Harrington captures video of an Ole Miss football game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for Ole Miss Sports Productions.