An education reporter’s education


An education reporter’s education

8:45 p.m. PST December 28, 2015

For me, this wasn’t just another year — 2015 was a year of changes, a year of learning.

I began writing for the Statesman Journal in June and took on the education beat in August.

Though still new to the beat,I’ve learned about the structure of education in the Salem-Keizer area and state of Oregon.

I’ve learned how to best  communicate with teachers, students, parents and administrators.

I’ve learned about some challenging and harmful things happening in the area, as well as some  efforts to improve the world.

I’ve also learned that learning needs to be a top priority for a journalist — especially one who covers education.

A few stories from this year stand out.

The first came at the start of the school year,  when returning students at North Salem High School organized a red-carpet welcome for new students on their first day.

It was a remarkable experience to see the students introduced to high school in such a way. North Salem Principal Cynthia Richardson said it well when she said, “It’s awesome that our students know how important they are. They are valued, ready to learn and ready to work.”

Another stand-out story

dealt with community colleges beginning to produce their own textbooks to lower the costs for their students.

I had no  expectation that thousands would read and share the story within 24 hours.

I’ve also learned a lot more about the challenges educators and students are facing in Oregon.

I wrote about the need for bilingual and specialty teachers, threats in schoolstesting, teachers battling a lack of resources, and students overcoming obstacles such as domestic violence,

Many know that larger class sizes mean less time for the educators to spend with individual students.

Parents, teachers, administrators, students and politicians have seen the negative effects of large classes and have expressed a desire to tackle the issue.

After the Umpqua Community College shooting, I learned a lot about the steps schools and individuals are taking to  contain violence and discrimination in schools.

Gervais School District created a new Crisis Go app for their district employees, Students from Lewis and Clark College demonstrated on the Capitol steps for #BlackLivesMatter, Willamette students demanded gun violence reform, and Chemeketa Community College created a new Threat Management Resourcesprogram that will help prevent threats.

And the efforts of many were recognized and awarded.

As in previous years, the Crystal Apple Awards honored excellence in teaching.

Published by Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is a freelance journalist and author based in Salem, Oregon. She wrote about education for more than seven years at the Statesman Journal and now covers education and other topics throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is originally from Colorado and earned her B.A. in Politics and French from Willamette University.

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