Sincerely, Mr. Stroup

Sincerely, Mr. Stroup

Daniel Stroup’s eighth-grade students, past and present, know what they’ll get for their birthday every year — an uplifting letter from the teacher.

For 40 years, Dan Stroup has been teaching at Heritage Christian School, and has written a personal letter of encouragement to every one of his students on their birthday. Like clockwork, Stroup composes the letters every night at the same table in his living room, with the same type of pen, on the same type of paper that he has used for all 2,500 letters. Each has a bible verse at the bottom, written in red.

This folksy WTHR-TV video uses interviews with Stroup and students in their homes, and layers the video with passages from his letters and old yearbook photos. Other graphic touches include titles made of Stroup’s blue-lined notebook paper, and the names of former students written in Stroup’s hand, that float over the video in transitions. The number of quick edits can be dizzying, but editor Steve Rhodes is skillful at mixing art elements without creating clutter.

Stroup plans to continue writing the letters, pointing out that a letter that goes out today might be “exactly what that person needs.” Indeed, the recipients look forward to their yearly missive, some even saving all the letters, and clearly appreciate that the beloved “Mr. Stroup” takes the time to remember them.

This video was awarded 1st place in the 2010 National Press Photographers Association Best of TV Photojournalism contest, Editing: Editor’s Effects, and 2nd Place, In-depth category.

Length: 5:21

By Steve Rhodes


Other 2010 NPPA awards for Steve Rhodes:


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