“The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), formerly known as Sigma Delta Chi, is the oldest organization representing journalists in the United States. SPJ has nearly 300 chapters across the United States that bring educational programming to local areas and offer regular contact with other media professionals. Its membership base is more than 9,000 members of the media.”
SPJ discovered the Glendale Young Authors program because Glendale Elementary is teaching six fourth and fifth graders journalism; when high schools aren’t even teaching it; as cited in a recent article by David Baxley.
According to Mr. Baxley, “Recently, I posed a question to students in my Introduction of Broadcast Journalism class: how were you exposed to journalism in high school? I looked around, and I was flabbergasted. Not one student provided any evidence he or she had ever even heard of “journalism” prior to taking mass communication courses at Francis Marion University. I also asked my students if their teachers in high school had ever encouraged them to read or watch news. Not one student raised his or her hand.
Our nation’s teachers are so bogged down with paperwork and preparing students for state and federally-mandated tests that little is being done to promote good writing and good journalism before students step foot in a college classroom.
Are there any high school newspapers anymore? Are there any assignments involving news? What are we teaching our students?
Writing is a way for young people to express themselves. Journalism helps students to understand history. Once teenagers recognize the positive impact of quality journalism, they will want to continue writing. Journalism needs young people now more than ever – the earlier, the better.”
On December 8, 2018, the Young Authors received this email from Michael Koretzky:
“I’m the SPJ national board member representing the southeast United States, and I’m currently the longest-serving director. SPJ’s Florida chapter held a board meeting last night. They were impressed… they’d like to send someone your way to help in any way you need.
[Wesley Wright, a representative of SPJ, will be visiting with the Glendale Young Authors on March 14. Mr. Wright is completing is Master’s Degree in Education Policy and Evaluation at Florida State University.]
For years, I’ve been beating this same drum, trying to get more resources for teaching students journalism by actually doing journalism. I’ll do what I can to not only support the program, but to document it for possible replication elsewhere.
I’ll still work out the travel arrangements, and subsequently publicize Wes’s appearance and then ask SPJ for a donation to the program.” [The SPJ website receives 10 – 15,000 views a month.]
According to Mr. Wright, “This program looks like it could instill other skills and habits, like developing accountability and even teamwork. The kids, I’m sure, will also become more media-literate, though you may not see the impact immediately.”
Ms. Kelly Baysura, Executive Director of Elementary Curriculum for the School District of Indian River County, FL, wrote: “This project is paving the way for our students with projects and work that mirrors the reality.”
Glendale Elementary’s journalism class includes six students (two = 4th grade / 4 = 5th grade) who meet one hour, twice a week.
The program began on October 1, 2018 and the six “Young Authors” have already produced two eight-page magazines; which were also carried at the Vero Beach Book Center.
Topics have included:
- “Dragons,” Creative fiction.
- “The Ten Greatest Threats to Humanity.”
- “The Role of Comics in Journalism.”
- “Techniques to Become a Prized Pianist.”
- “Why You Should Like Math.”
Jann Moylan, a Vero Beach board member of the small non-profit that underwrites the program said: “People may believe that they [fourth and fifth graders] seem too young to be thinking in these areas that they have chosen, but I am a mother and have seen the weight of the world on many children. For them to have an outlet to discuss is a gift. Facts of history that formed and influence journalism today should be shared.”
Research conducted for the 2019 1st semester, including PBS News Hour Student Reporting Labs, has all pointed to the fact that the Glendale Young Authors (4th and 5th grade) are mostly performing at a 7+ grade level.
The course meets 13 of the 43 Florida Language Arts Standards “READING STANDARDS FOR LITERATURE.”
This an opportunity for Glendale Elementary, and specifically, Ms. Baysura, Glendale Principal Adam Faust, Assistant Principal Michelle Banack and Curriculum Coach Renee Koppelman to be recognized for pioneering an innovative new way to improve literacy.
Mr. Koretsky, or -Koretzky as he is known: “..teaching students journalism by actually doing journalism.”