Lovejoy High School, Lucas
Number of years teaching
Most unusual item in/on your desk?
A plastic toy harmonica and a deck of Walking Dead playing cards (I don’t even watch the show, have literally no idea where those came from)
Favorite deadline snack?
Peanut butter anything (m&ms, Twix, Snickers, ice cream)
Nicknames your students have given you?
Halestorm (apparently they call me this when I talk for a looooong time–ex. “I just got Halestormed.” Just found out today)
Superpower you’d want as a teacher?
Some kind of anti-procrastination ray. It would be for me as much as it would be for them.
Personal catchphrase or motto?
“Respect the poultry!” “Great story ideas make great stories.” “Marco…” I also stress each year that although perfection is unattainable, we can all find our own level of excellence. Excellence is a sliding scale that changes as we grow. What was excellent for us in August shouldn’t be excellent for us in May.
What is the reason you love teaching journalism?
Building relationships with the staffers, watching them get excited about telling stories, watching them grow in the program over multiple years.
What is the most important element to a successful program?
Students have to believe that what they are doing matters. That it’s relevant and important and that they can make a difference with their words, photos and videos. They have to care for each other too. That’s why we start every Friday in a big circle, passing a stuffed chicken, and sharing things about ourselves – how our weeks went, what frustrates us, what brings us joy, what we’re looking forward to next. Then we say “F&R” for “friendship and respect” and pass the chicken to the next staff member. And sometimes we need to get others to quiet down while someone else is speaking. Hence, “Respect the poultry!”
Describe your favorite lesson to teach.
We usually save personal column writing for the end of the year, after we’ve already sharpened our narrative skills with features. I like to share several examples of past work, and then encourage the students to dig deep and find something meaningful to share. I’m amazed by the stories I get to read each year.