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Teacher goes back to school in newsroom

Teacher goes back to school in newsroom
Teacher goes back to school in newsroom
Sabrina Dyer, 25, spent one week of her summer learning how to be a reporter. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

‘One must always keep up with what young people think because, after all, they are change.’ ‘ Lorraine Hansberry
I was quickly called back to my student days as I served a one-week internship at The Corydon Democrat.
As an adult and an English teacher, I fear it’s sometimes easy to overlook the priorities and concerns of students. I am, however, mindful that often the best teachers are those who can relate to their students. The best teaching occurs when legitimate student concerns are addressed and reflected in assignments. My time here at the newspaper has reminded me that things are completely different on each side of the desk.
Day 1: Excited and uncertain, albeit a little tardy, I arrived in the newsroom feeling like a fresh-faced student at a new and unfamiliar school. Would I be accepted by my peers? Was I as smart as them? I was relieved to discover how fun my new classmates were, but a little discouraged when I realized how much work was to be done.
Within an hour of locating my teacher, Mrs. Carpenter, and my principal, Mr. West, I was overwhelmed with research assignments ranging from osteosarcoma and unemployment rates to Abigail Adams and tax abatements. I must confess, some of these topics failed to pique my interest. When was I gonna use this stuff in real life? Who cares about tax abatements anyway?
Even on the first day, homework was assigned! I was required to attend a Harrison County Council meeting and take notes. Perhaps my notes were shorter than Mrs. Carpenter would have preferred, but I should have received an ‘A’ for the effort I gave in locating the Commissioners’ Room and sitting on hard bench pews for three hours (when I could have been socializing with friends).
Day 2: More research and another trip to the courthouse. Admittedly, I feared a writing assignment awaited my return to the office. My suspicions were confirmed, and by 10 a.m., I was smacked with the ultimate unfair punishment: a news story with a short deadline. Even worse, I was bored by the topic. Those tax abatements came back to haunt me, and I soon wished I had paid more attention in the meeting.
Procrastination fell upon me, accompanied by a hint of resentment that I must write a story of facts that follow a strict series of guidelines. Where was the poetic license? It was apparent. The teacher and principal were determined to undermine my feeble attempts at creativity. Oh well, I decided to do it their way; I have to pass this class.
After an unproductive hour of scratching notes and a few rest room visits, my ‘busy’ cover was blown, and Mrs. Carpenter requested results. The ‘why’ cycle began again. Why was my topic so boring? Why must I adhere to the impersonal journalistic format? Why couldn’t I have more time? Why me?
With my deadline looming and a stroke of genius for a lead offered by a friendly classmate (thanks, Chuck), I set to work on my tax abatement story.
This wasn’t so bad. What was I thinking? The public needed to know the actions and decisions of our elected officials. Besides, there were other things to mention in my article ‘ tax abatement was not the only matter presented to the council. I was filled with a sense of pride. It was my duty to spread the message of tax abatements loud and clear. The words flowed and I met my deadline. The world again made sense.
That is, until Mrs. Carpenter reached for her red pen …