The Dalton Middle School Success Academy took 57 students and 7 teachers on a tour around Dalton on August 30 to explore various journalism and communications professions as they begin working on their own magazines.
The group started the day at the Creative Arts Guild and participated in three workshops focused on different art forms - martial arts, the sculpture garden and print making. After that, the students toured the Dalton Daily Citizen Newspaper, hearing from the editors, reporters, design team and advertising staff. The day ended at the Dalton First Presbyterian Church, where church members hosted lunch for the group so that students and teachers could meet in small groups with a professional of their interest area.
When lunch concluded, local media professionals sat on a panel for the students to take turns asking questions.
"I learned that to be a good writer you have to be a good reader," said eighth grade student Leslie Rivera. "We can learn so much more from being face-to-face with people who have done what we are doing than just what you read in a book in the classroom."
Workshop leaders and panel members consisted of:
- Dalton Daily Citizen Newspaper: Jamie Jones (Managing Editor), Shaka Cobb (Reporter), Chris Whitfield (Reporter)
- Shaw Inc.: Sara Martin (Communications Dept.)
- La Voz Newspaper: Francisco Palacios (Publisher)
- Billy Willis Photography: Billy Willis (Owner)
- Creative Arts Guild: Jim Sneary (Communications Dept.)
- Dalton Public Schools: Dr. Tim Scott, superintendent; Jennifer Phinney, director of school support; and Pat Holloway, chief of staff (communications and special projects)
- Dalton Middle School: Mitch Doxsee (published author)
As students begin choosing jobs for their own magazine, "Just Saying," they'll look to these professionals for mentorship. The idea came from Dalton Middle School teacher Amanda Triplett when she learned she would have more freedom in how to teach literacy and reading in the Success Academy program.
"I love that the school district is looking at students' needs individually and embracing that all learners are different," she said. "The young people in the Success Academy are extremely intelligent, creative and walk to their own beats: something I and my fellow team teachers celebrate! These kids have so much to say, and creating their own magazine teaches the state standards in a way that says, 'There is purpose to learning, and your voice is important to our community.' This field trip was just the first step."
The group hopes to launch the magazine before winter break.
Eighth grade student Jose Garcia had two major takeaways from the day. The first was learning about a type of martial arts that was created by slaves to fight against their oppressors. The second was the advice community business leaders gave on the panel.
"They said, 'You should do what you love instead of doing something you won't enjoy at all.' This surprised me because most people talk about just making money, but many of these people chose something that they were passionate about and that makes them love their job," he explained. "It makes me think of writing in a whole different way."