SRL Connected Educator of the Month | April 2019

Neena Kumar first started working with SRL five years ago when she reached out to our founder, Leah Clapman, about becoming a Lab. Her students currently participate in our STEM program and over the years have produced a number of compelling stories, some of which have aired on the NewsHour. You can always find at least one of Ms. Kumar’s students at SRL’s annual summer Academy. Most recently, she’s been working with her school’s administration to develop a first-rate broadcast journalism program centered around SRL’s best practices.  

What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to storytelling?

I believe that stories are the most powerful tool to engage and assist a student’s narrative about the subject they are being taught. Not only do they learn by listening to a well researched, well-told story, but they are also able to make new connections and create meaningful narratives that serve as a framework for their own learning.

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

Student journalism helps create awareness and provides strong foundational skills that scholars need to make sense of the world around them. As scholars learn to appreciate the power of pause and process, they become well grounded in the skills that promote critical thinking. While examining every piece of information with a researcher’s eye increases their depth of understanding, looking for balanced perspectives, seeking multiple points of views drills home the importance of keeping an open mind.

How can we get youth more interested in the news?

Youth are curious by nature. By trusting their abilities, listening to their point of view, giving them opportunities to find their voice, and connecting them to their audience, we can get our youth more interested in news.

What would life look like without public media?

It is a scary thought. Dark ages…

What do you hope to accomplish with SRL?

With SRL, I hope to provide a platform and the skill set so that my scholars feel well informed and empowered so that they can rise above the limitations their world might impose upon them, find their voice and their confidence and explore their world fearlessly. Check out my classroom projects at