SRL Connected Educator of the Month: January 2018

Frances McMahon Ward is the kind of teacher who takes extraordinary initiative to bring unique learning opportunities to her classroom. Since participating in SRL’s Teacher Workshop last summer, Frances has successfully guided her students at Xavier College Preparatory through their first year of Student Reporting Labs’ curriculum. In just one semester, her classroom was able to submit stories for both our Misinformation Overload series and our upcoming STEM Problem Solvers series. Frances has demonstrated time and again through social media (@XCPGators1) her exceptional skill in communicating the SRL mission. We caught up with Frances to hear more about why she is so committed to elevating youth voices.

What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to storytelling?   
My arts background gives focus to the connection of idea, image and story. I believe in the power of ‘showing’ as ‘telling’. Sometimes a deeper level of understanding can be reached if the images are allowed time to resonate.

How can student journalism help promote a greater understanding of the world?

We all hold personal stories that bleed into a common narrative pool. Students perceive the world around them and connect to their peers through stories. The telling of stories empowers our students and gives them a sense of pride in what they’ve learned and their ability to share it with a larger community. Our SRL reporters have been asked to survey the world in which they live and find the stories that need to be told offering their unique perspective to the world.

How can we get youth more interested in the news?
I think we can get youth more involved if they see themselves reflected in the stories that are being told. Who is in control of the narrative and how will it be shared? Students have such a unique perspective that should be embraced.

What would life look like without public media?

What do you hope to accomplish with SRL?  
Student Reporting Labs has been an amazing program for both me and my students. It is an opportunity to ‘raise the bar’ because of the programming, access and support. As a teacher, I feel connected to a larger community of professionals and I hope to be able to prepare my students more rigorously in the areas of broadcast journalism. For my students, SRL has made their story telling more engaging by expanding their audience beyond the school walls; creating a more ‘real-world’ experience. Student Reporting Labs has becomes an avenue for self discovery and personal success.