Sunday, April 17, 2005

I will miss this class!

School's Out! Posted by Hello

Cliché leads for this entry
  • All good things must come to an end.
  • “I’d drive from Dothan to stay in this class,” said Lauren King a graduating journalism student.
  • Wow. This opinion class really rocked.
  • What do you get when you put 14 talented writers in one room for three hours every Thursday afternoon?
  • Sex. Drugs. Rock n Roll.

    I have to admit to ya’ll, I’m really going to miss this class. I’ve been teaching for 12 semesters and I’ve had wonderful, talented students who have gone on to do amazing things. But somehow, this class, this semester has knocked me over with the array of talent, compassion, humor and genuine camaraderie. When I first starting teaching, I was concerned that few if any students in my classes knew each other. As graduating seniors, they had not built a network of classmates, professors and mentors that I feel is one of the most important things you can do as an undergraduate. I set about trying everything I could think of to foster friendships and camaraderie.

    Some semesters it worked others it was a dismal failure. Sometimes there would be a negative force within the class, other times it was just the usual apathy and indifference toward journalism and fellow journalists. Gradually, with the fiction contest and then, reading pieces aloud, things began to come together. I’m not a real teacher. The only education class I ever took was for two weeks at U of Texas. I dropped it when I realized that I wasn’t cut out to get an education degree. No literature. No philosophy. No foreign studies. No psychology.

    I’m not a professor either. I didn’t do the hard work, endless research and academics needed to obtain a PhD. What I did do is write and publish in newspapers and magazines building a solid freelance career that I love. I wake up and am amazed that I get paid to do something I love to do. And I feel the same way about teaching. There are things about journalism that are never found in textbooks. Lessons from editorial meetings, intern coordination, interviewing, hiring, firing and writing interesting, boring, complicated, heartbreaking, joyful stories that I want to teach about. So, that’s what I try to do.
    The last minute addition of the group blog may have something to do with the charisma of this class. For one thing, I got to know you by your profiles, your writing, your interests, hobbies and dreams for the future. This is usually impossible in a short semester with merely classroom time. Plus, I was able to put names and faces together quickly, instead of struggling through it all semester long. And you got to know your fellow classmates the same way.

    Some of the memorable moments include the ongoing war of letters to the editor beginning with Andy Duncan’s evolution letter, the war of words in Christine’s blog and of course, the freaks and geeks who write to the CW just to keep our class amused, outraged and ready to fire back. The fiction contest, humor pieces and book reviews all demonstrated your talent and creativity.

    Probably no single class ever stands out in my memory as the one where you read the Newsweek pieces. Your words, powerful, moving and wrenching set a standard I doubt will ever be reached. I cannot express how beautifully written, revised, polished and well done these pieces were. For your classmates who chose not to read aloud, let me assure you, they were equal to the ones read in class.
    I expect that you will see each others’ bylines in years to come. I know you will email the writer to say, well done. I hope you will continue to write essays even if you go into sports writing, newsrooms, magazines or law firms. As you can see, your words hold the power to cause change. Even if it’s just getting granola bars into vending machines. It’s still power.
  • Use it wisely.


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