Essential Skills Video Series

The DeKalb County Community Foundation created the Essential Skills Video Series to focus on essential skills (or soft skills) targeted to middle and high school students in DeKalb County. Essential skills are personality traits, behaviors, and communication skills. In a county-wide survey, employers identified these skills as a gap in the workforce throughout our county. To emphasize and instill the importance of these skills, we have developed the Essential Skills Video Series.

A few essential skills featured in the videos include:

  • Appropriate professional dress & behavior
  • Leadership
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Being Self Motivated
  • Speaking Clearly & Appropriately
  • Confidence
  • Cell Phone & Social Media Etiquette

The Essential Skills Video Series is a FREE resource available to schools and educators in DeKalb County, IL. The packaged series comes complete with all five videos and includes resources for reflection, learning, and feedback. Educators interested in obtaining the video series for usage are encouraged to complete the interest form below.

Essential Skills Video Series Interest Form >

The Videos Series

The Essential Skills Video Series is a FREE, fun, and engaging resource. There are five unique videos. Four of the videos highlight various essential skills. The fifth video captures a behind-the-scenes approach and shares valuable lessons learned.

The Job interview

(Video 1 - SAMPLE) Learn what to do and what not to, as Rachel goes on a job interview.

Sally the Leader

(Video 2 - SAMPLE) What skills make a good leader? In this video, Sally discovers her leadership qualities.

Be a Word Changer

(Video 3 - SAMPLE) In this video, watch as Chris learns to think before he speaks and what happens when he doesn’t!

Good Idea, Bad Idea

(Video 5 - SAMPLE) In a virtual reality experiment, Tim learns the effect his words can have on others

Before and After Impressions

(Video 5 - SAMPLE) The final video in the Essential Skills Video Series. See additional scenes, what happened next, and how actions can make a lasting impression.

Educator Resources

In addition to the videos, a resource guide accompanies each video at both the middle school and high school levels. The guide was developed by local teachers and academic counselors in DeKalb County to serve as an interactive learning experience to accompany the video series. This series meets required teaching standards.

Tools for Teachers:

  • Middle School Resource Guide - A helpful resource for discussion prompts, middle school age engagement activities, and real-life application ideas.
  • High School Resource Guide - A helpful resource for discussion prompts, high school age engagement activities, and real-life application ideas.
  • Student Survey - We invite students to share their honest feedback and takeaways. Student feedback is vital in our consideration of future videos, reporting, and communication to donors.
  • Teacher Survey - We invite teachers to share how they used videos and further explain the effectiveness of the videos in the classroom. Teacher feedback is vital in our reporting and communication to donors.

Student Feedback:

“I can apply how to build strong relationships because I am timid and not as open with people. I feel that holds me back from gaining new friends.”


“I will apply self-motivation because school can be a little hard and stressful. I want to start being more motivated to do my everyday things.”


“I want to be a leader, a good person, and set an example for others.”


“Because I am a shy person, I want to speak more clearly. When I meet new people or go on interviews, I stutter and get really quiet. I need to speak up!”


“Being respectful is important to use in everyday life because being respectful of others is part of being a good person and being kind.”


“Be confident. I will use that because it shows that I am there for a reason, and I believe in myself.”


“Be responsible, applies to my everyday life because I have many things that I need to do throughout the day. Things such as homework, sports, showing up on time.”


“Be encouraging of others.”

Teacher Feedback:

"I felt these videos were VERY effective. They were relevant and relatable to my students, short and effective. I liked that the videos relayed serious and important messages in a way that was enjoyable to watch. I appreciated the (young) age and diversity of the 'actors.' I also thought using the same 'actors/characters' in different videos was a great idea (e.g., connecting the improvement of skills ends up leading to a job)!"


"I highly recommend the use of these videos and resources! It's a great way to show relevant examples and encourages follow-up discussions with students. Kudos! Well done!! And, thank you for this valuable resource."


“I love that they are short and simple; they provide great examples; use young adults; and add humor.”


“The guiding questions and activities look great. Whoever put this together did a great job.”


“I talk about ‘life skills’ often in class. These videos provide great support for these important skills and messages for students.”


“I gave the students time during class to submit their surveys, and we had some good discussions about the skills. I also plan to use their resource materials to have lengthier discussions in the upcoming weeks.”


“I am so grateful they decided to do this. I was very impressed!”

Funding for the Essential Skills is made possible by donor generosity to CommunityWorks Funds at the Community Foundation. These Funds support three identified interest areas early care and education, land use, and workforce development.

If you would like to partner with us in workforce development efforts in DeKalb County or support projects similar to this, please contact Community Engagement Director Teri Spartz at 815-748-5383 or t.spartz@dekalbccf.org.


Thank you!

We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the many donors, partner organizations, student actors, and volunteers that made this video series possible. What we do to teach and enhance these important essential skills in our youth begins with donors and a community of people who care. That's YOU, and we thank you for that. And a special thank you to OC Creative for their outstanding work on this video series!