Today my winter issue of C:JET magazine came in the mail. C:JET stands for Communication: Journalism Education Today. It’s a national magazine for journalism educators (middle school, high school, college/university). Exciting, I know.
But, here’s the thing. Last year, I tore my hair out for months working with an assistant editor and writing this article about journalism teachers and mentors. (It shouldn’t have taken months, that’s a topic for a different post!) And now it’s published. Cool, yes? Although I hate my picture on the “contributors” page, I love my byline.
REWIND: I did my undergraduate work in journalism at The University of Iowa. I worked towards a journalism degree without an inkling of certainty that I actually wanted to be a journalist. At the time I thought journalism would be a more marketable major than just English, so I double majored. I toyed with the idea of magazine design and creative nonfiction (a new approach to journalistic writing that was just emerging at the time) was interesting to me. I don’t remember writing anything in college that was published, unless it was one article in the hospital magazine—the memory is too vague (too Unmemorable) to be sure.
When I decided to take my English and Journalism degrees to graduate school for English Education, I deliberately planned NOT to market myself as a journalism teacher. After graduating, I did not pay the Iowa State Board of Education for a journalism endorsement. I figured I could pull that rabbit out of the hat in an interview, IF I felt like that was the only way to get a job that I really wanted. (Back then, the job market was better and I began teaching when many teachers were beginning their retirement.)
Four years ago, we needed a yearbook adviser at Kennedy. As the department chair, it was on me to ask, beg, and plead our LA teachers to take the position. We couldn’t hire someone from outside of the school for this job because the former yearbook adviser was remaining on staff as a LA teacher. Basically, when no one wanted the yearbook advising job, it became hard to ignore my journalism degree, and it was harder still to ignore the sense of duty I felt to maintaining yearbook as a journalism class and continuing a strong journalistic tradition at our school. Basically, if nobody in LA wanted the job, it could pass to an art teacher, a tech teacher, or any teacher on staff that was willing to do the job.
The first year advising was a nightmare of grand proportions. The next years were better. This is my fourth year advising the yearbook. My journalism degree, though I dusted it off four years ago, is pretty dang old.
But today, it’s the byline makes me feel legit. [Word Count: 474]