Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm a Teacher. What's your super power?

Rick Rodriguez was an inspiration to me. And based on the storie he shared today, to his students as well.

I have spent my life trying to show people there should be no fear of differences. With my personal agenda to make sure that my students are not afraid, I work hard to make sure that our school’s paper is truly representative of as many voices in our community as possible.

It can be hard to walk up to a student and say, “I want you on the paper because you are who you are.” I have felt I would run the risk of being offensive.
But on the first day of class this year, I was able to tell the newspaper staff they were selected for their jobs because they were talented, qualified and brought an important element to the paper we had not had before.

By expressing the importance of the variety of kids on our staff, Rodriguez made it clear, respect for each other’s gifts, talents and voices should be an expectation on every paper staff.

Conering more diverse topics from various points of view will make us feel good. But even better it will allow our staffs to know they are doing a service to thier communinty.
I am proud of all of us for continuing to try to improve our diversity in our school indluding diverse voices in our paper.

The emotion I hear when people people share their stories lets me know I am not alone in my journey, and Mr. Rodriguez only affirmed that I am doing the right thing. All of the stress it may create will be worth it in the end.

Above photo: Nate Thompson and Alyssa Carnley are entralled by Rick Rodriguez as he spoke about diversifying our newsrooms. Rodriguez is the Borderlands Initiative professor at ASU and a former ASNE president.
Michelle Evenson
Eden Prairie High School
Minneapolis, Minn.


  1. Many of us went into teaching to help students find their voices, and in turn, realize that we are all the same.

    I loved Rodriguez's message as well: "It's not about selling newspapers or putting people in jail," he said. "It's about creating community and understanding it."

    I thought I was able to create that understanding in my class as an English teacher. I know that as a journalism teacher, I can create that in the entire school and community as well.

    I'm on the journey with you, Michelle!

    Kim Vinh
    Sequoia High School
    Redwood City, Calif.

  2. About twenty years ago, I overheard a first year journalism student tell another sophomore that room 215 (my room) was the safest place in the building.

    That is a lot of responsibility for any teacher, but especially so for those of us who encourage our students to speak their minds whether on paper or out loud in class.

    But that charge is what makes our jobs the best in the educational system. To us, speech is not a technique. It is a sense of confidence that we have successfully led these young adults through a process that guarantees that they understand their rights in the context of the accompanying responsibilities.

    What could be better than that?

    Sam Bidleman
    Bloomsburg High School
    Bloomsburg, Pa.

  3. I agree hearing about Rick Rodriguez's growth once again reminds me that we are in control of our future. If someone does not like the cards that are dealt to them they have the ability to change them through hard work and passion.

    Journalism provides with the opportunity to do this in a fashion that is unfounded by other subjects.

    Brent Manuel
    Pleasant Valley High
    Chico, Calif.

  4. Nice headline!

    Kellie Wagner
    Hartford, Conn.