Student Well-Being Opinion

Missing My Former Students and Former Program

By Starr Sackstein — October 06, 2016 2 min read
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Starting a program at a school is like giving birth to a living being. There are hardships and growing pains, but when it finally realizes its own potential, there is a pride that is hard to explain.

In my old school I created the newspaper program from scratch. I labored over how to create a self-sustaining student-led media outlet that would support good pedagogy and sound journalism.

After getting involved deeply with Journalism Education Association and visiting many conferences that would help me grow as an adviser, a two-year program was born.

We had highs and lows over the years. We fought hard to keep our print edition going, only to have to build a more substantial online program, but I rationalized that with the changing needs of the market and expectations of 21st century skills for my students.

Instead of an InDesign team, we had a web team and a social media team. I worked hard to promote student leadership and excellent coverage and I know we did that.

WJPSnews won for best NYC online news outlet my last year at the school and in only nine years, we were able to build that. While doing so, I established incredible relationships with students as we invested together in this tremendous undertaking.

For a long time, the newspaper program sustained me at my old school. I feared leaving it as I wasn’t sure that it would be cared for the way it needed to be. I feared that my kids wouldn’t be given control in my absence.

Fortunately, my successor is trying to uphold the systems that are in place. She has already reached out to me, as have my senior staffers who I trained last year to be charge this year.

When I talk to my former students, I miss them dearly. I miss the classes and the time we spent together. Truth is even when newspaper was making me a nervous wreck, it was making me happy.

Being a part of a publication builds so many skills that are inherent in the production and learning, but mostly it builds relationships. I’m glad they are still including me in what they are doing and I’m happy to help in any way I can.

Hopefully in the future, I will be helping to develop a new robust student publication as there is nothing better for a school and for students when it comes to really applying the skills they are learning.

Journalism is a discipline that has always supported true creation and application of 21st century skills and does it in a way where students are doing more than they are sitting and getting.

So now I’m left wondering, how do I move on from this other child? I’ve left my school and left the program in the capable hands of my kids. I’m grateful for that.

What was the hardest part of leaving your old position to try something new (even if you knew it was time)? Please share

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