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The Power of the Press

The press badges on two junior high reporters caught the president’s eye at the steps of Air Force One. “Oh, I see you’re starting early,” Richard Nixon told the students as he stepped forward to shake their hands. The two student reporters, wearing the same press credentials as the half dozen professional reporters also at the aircraft, were the only ones who got to talk with the president. He was in Rockford, Illinois, to deliver a campaign speech. It was one of countless journalism adventures that tapped the skills and honed the judgments of students from Johnsburg School District 12, which serves a small community in northern Illinois. Two and a half years later, three other reporters for the Johnsburg Journal student newspaper attended a White House press briefing that was dominated by Watergate questions. Afterwards, they saw President Nixon in the Oval Office. In Johnsburg, even junior high students were empowered to practice authentic journalism’without the threat of arbitrary censorship or the practice of prior review by administrators. I taught journalism and advised the newspaper staffs in Johnsburg for 34 years, including my last 25 years advising the Johnsburg Weekly News after we became a high school district. I

Andrew Margon’s Learning Story

A great teacher’s lesson can give you goosebumps and if you’re lucky, mindbumps too. Marlene was my English Teacher and Choir Director in High School. She was everywhere. If your jacket smelt like stale cigarette smoke she would let you have it. In the classroom, she shined some light into your lazy, dormant, misunderstood, overactive, apathetic or whatever-other-state your adolescent mind might’ve been in, and actually got you up in front of the class to act out a scene from Orwell’s 1984, guiding you to draw connections between your reality and Orwell’s fiction. In choir, she led diaphragm strengthening exercises and taught us songs in a dozen different languages, once again, guiding us to drawing connections. She tended to different spaces that allowed learning, growth and positive escape. She had high expectations and high energy. Sometimes she could be downright mean. She cared for you and took her job of helping you grow very seriously. She taught to your complexities. She had the ability to figure out what you needed and a fine-tuned ear for hearing the beauty and potential in your particular voice. If it was a roar, she showed you the merit of a whisper; if it was

Scott Nine’s Learning Story

I still remember every book I was asked to read for Dr. Tom Nolen’s class, The One and the Many. It was my first semester at Northern Arizona University. I entered the classroom curious — but also defined. Raised a devout and conservative Christian, I had helped my family start a church and began giving sermons when I was 14. At 16, my charisma and speaking gifts had me sharing a sermon about every other month with a congregation of 260 people. I was the student body president of my high school, captain of the football team, and the valedictorian to boot. I made the last minute decision to attend NAU, a state school, because the cost and distance of going to the Christian college of choice seemed too big at the time. On the first day of class, Dr. Nolen set the tone. He was inviting us into a large, complex, and uncomfortable conversation. How does society balance the needs and rights of individuals with that of the whole? What can we learn from exploring different views through literature and discussion? There were about 20 of us. The course would be rigorous. We were to keep a weekly journal,

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