Partner Project mobilizes to Kingsbury High School
While mapping out the story structure, junior Ashton Carson laughs with Partner Project instructor Rebecca Pollard, MJE, about word choice in his transitions. After attending a press conference, Carson learned about the importance of word choice to keep the reader interested. “It was kind of difficult at first, then I listened to what was being said [about formatting a story],” Carson said. “When I over thought it, I just kept trying. And with help, it got easier.”
The Memphis Partner Project served 165 students from Kingsbury High School during a two-day training Sept. 12-13. The group worked with another 42 participants during the Saturday regional workshop Sept. 14.
The workshops, taught by Scott Harrison from White Station High School (Tennessee), Lori Keekley, MJE, from St. Louis Park High School (Minnesota), and Rebecca Pollard, MJE, from Lovejoy High School (Texas), focused on training journalists to show the story both through writing and photography.
After moving in more tables and chairs to squeeze in all students, the group created a learning space for an intensive two-day training on reporting and interviewing fundamentals, crafting news stories, understanding the First Amendment and learning photography composition techniques.
On day one, students worked to create meaningful interview questions to get the most out on an interview. They also analyzed how to establish credibility with an authoritative source. Students interviewed vice principal Dr. Yolanda Young at a press conference to write multiple stories on issues affecting their school.
“The energetic group seemed to get into creating questions for the administrator,” Keekley said. “I was impressed by the way the students didn’t shy away from the difficult questions and handled themselves professionally during the interview.”
Day two started with First Amendment activities, then transitioned to working on story structure for the majority of their time. Students were challenged by the feature writing format.
“It was kind of difficult at first, then I listened to what was being said (about formatting a story),” junior Ashton Carson said. “When I over thought it, I just kept trying. And with help, it got easier.”
The regional one-day workshop, which included eight area schools, addressed ad sales, photography, press law and ethics, social media, team building, work flow and writing. Tennessee JEA State Director Heather Nagel joined Harrison, Keekley and Pollard as instructors for the event.
“It was fulfilling to see the students realize they actually have the power to impact their school communities by being curious, by questioning adult sources and by becoming the voice of their peers, “ Harrison said.
Pollard noted the impact of the one-day workshop on the advisers who attended.
“I loved the questions asked by the advisers,” Pollard said. “They were eager to learn more, as they were passionate about building their programs. I think the time to network and collaborate helped them realize they have resources out there.”
Malorie Paine, journalism and communications teacher at Kingsbury High School, said she felt more prepared after the experience.
“I saw kids — that I didn’t really expect to get it so quickly — absolutely come to life, which was really cool to see,” Paine said. “Not that I didn’t believe in my kids before, as I do believe in all of them. But because some kids need to have their hands held more, I found they are more capable now.”
Paine said she felt empowered by the instruction given to her students.
“I’m so glad we were selected for this. I feel so relieved, truly,” Paine said.
The application form for the JEA Partner Project will open in 2020. More information is available here.