SRL Connected Educators of the Month: January 2016

Forestview High School, Gastonia, NC


From left to right: Sally Griffin and Melissa Heilig of Forestview High School in Gastonia, North Carolina.

Meet Melissa and Sally.

They might be new to the Student Reporting Labs program, but their youth journalism game is very strong.

These North Carolina educators have done a terrific job encouraging their young reporters to think creatively as shown in their students’ Outside the Box submission: Fighting stereotypes.

We asked them a few questions to learn their thoughts on media and how they think we can get students engaged in the news and the world around them. Proving that two heads are always better than one, here are their joint responses:

How do you like to receive your news? We go through a variety of formats and sources in order to get information from multiple perspectives: television, print, radio and online. Each offers a different viewpoint that enriches the understanding of the story and how it affects the people involved.

What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to storytelling? Telling stories provides the opportunity for learning composition, detail and metaphor, all the terms English teachers espouse. Telling the stories of others also offers students the opportunity to connect with other social cultures, choose the important over the insignificant, compose and grow.

Would you rather live a year without radio or television? Explain. We would choose a year without radio, because without television the visual images that help tell the stories are not there. Audio and video offer a better understanding of what's going on in the world around us.

How can student reports help promote a greater understanding of the world? Our students' perspectives give us insight into how the next generation will run our society, our political futures and our financial successes and failures. Asking them to report on what they see gives us an idea of what they value.

How can we get youth more interested in the news? We must constantly show young people how to take national news stories and find examples of those issues in their school and community. Connections with the local community create more urgency and connectedness to what’s going on in the world. It's all about putting the world into their perspective and showing them why it matters to them.

How can we teach youth to be more inquisitive about the world around them? Every day, ask them what potential story they encountered. Through these conversations, we can offer connections to other issues and other stories.

Ask them, “What did you see? What did you hear? How does that affect you? How does it affect others?” Teach them to ask why and who cares.

What do you hope to accomplish with SRL? Our teaching philosophy is to help students develop critical thinking skills to adequately analyze and understand the literacies presented in our multimedia culture and how those literacies apply to them as individuals. In doing so, we are teaching our students the importance of sharing their voices and using their skills to link their community to the greater world around them.