Freshman film student, Truman Matheny, had just arrived home on spring break from the Savannah College of Art and Design when the coronavirus hit.
With his school shuttered and city placed on lockdown, he had no certainty of when classes would resume again in Georgia.
At the same time, his father Keeth, an emotional learning educator, was forced to work from their home in Texas, away from a busy travel schedule visiting schools and training teachers.
Locked down together, the Matheny’s decided to combine their passions into something other students and families could use to cope with life in quarantine.
The duo teamed with educational resource company, School-Connect, to distribute “EQ in Your PJs,” a new digital series offering students emotional and intellectual tools to grow during a difficult time.
“When we first found ourselves in this ‘extended spring break’ I started thinking about how kids were going to need some lessons and tools to get through this,” Keeth Matheny said.
Utilizing his experience as a social and emotional educator, and his son’s experience as a filmmaker, the pair joined to create coursework families could benefit from at home.
“We set up a little studio in the house to do it right,” Keeth Matheny said. “Truman’s the director, and approves the scripts and decides what we need to shoot. I’m very proud of him.”
Sixteen episodes and 70,000 users later, the series is catching on with families, students and educators around the globe.
The series features a range of resources including online videos, a virtual calming room, digital handouts, quizzes and more. Courses cover topics addressing the anxieties and challenges being faced as the country shelters in place. Episodes include helpful topics such as “Managing Stress Before It Manages You,” “Navigating Relationships in Tight Quarters,” “Schooling from Home Successfully” and “Bouncing Back from Challenges.”
Truman’s experience directing comedy shorts at SCAD helps make the series fun and engaging. And while it’s not easy directing your Dad, Truman says he’s a great creative partner who always brings ideas to the table.
“He knows exactly what he’s going to say with each video,” Truman Matheny said. “He’s really got a ton of resources – you could say there’s no lack of clay to work with.”
The Mathenys say they hope the series helps students and educators cope with the new normal of living and adjusting away from school and work.
“There is going to be a huge wake of mental health issues following this pandemic,” Matheny shared. “My whole goal is to get students, teachers and families more skills to manage their emotions in the crisis, navigate relationships and bounce back from this situation while making the most of their time.”
When school and work life do resume again, Truman says he looks forward to returning to Savannah to continue film school and work on new projects with his production group, Stale Pretzel Productions.
Though he doesn’t know what the future holds, he’s grateful for this unique time with his father, creating something special for people around the world.
“It’s my passion and I’m really just looking forward to going back to SCAD to study film,” Truman said. “And of course, one of the first things I intend to do when I get back is eat at Leopold’s Ice Cream.”
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