By Kelly Kiki
Teaching is a gift. Personally, my teaching career has been filled with so many memorable moments to hang my hat on. However, I can count on one hand the moments that feel like they defined my more than 20 years as an educator.
Yet, earlier this month, I experienced another great event that I will cherish for a lifetime. Teaming up with Rob Curley, editor of The Spokesman-Review, my students completed a unit on how to write a 700-word editorial on a local issue of their choice.
I sent the top seven to the newspaper. Then, Rob texted me saying, “I have an idea.” Well, I buckled up and opened both ears. “Let’s publish the students’ essays in the newspaper and take a picture of them like the movie poster from ‘The Breakfast Club.’ ”
How cool is that idea? So, we did. The Spokesman-Review’s staff even sought out clothing to match the kids from the 1985 iconic film. When looking at the kids, they almost matched the five in the film perfectly. It was meant to be.
Rob invited all my students and their families down to the Review building for a professional photo shoot and a complete tour of The Spokesman-Review building. We arrived at 6:30 p.m. and didn’t depart till 9 p.m. I think that the parents enjoyed the night more than the kids.
I watched all night as my heart filled with pride and love for these kids and their families as the newspaper’s photographer, Colin Mulvaney, orchestrated the photo shoot, and then Rob guided the tour personally. It was such an amazing evening and great way to celebrate these kids and their efforts.
Their voice matters. They are officially part of Spokane’s written history.
After taking “The Breakfast Club” photo for the front page, another student joined me and all of the others for a picture that I will turn into a framed poster in my classroom, to inspire future students as time and again, we engage in this editorial unit. It will remind them of the time when others in this classroom got to be on the front page of their hometown newspaper, and that essays written for the exact same class were published for everyone to read.
It is essential for me to note that these are not AP students. These are students from a regular 11th grade English class learning from a regular English teacher.
Well, on that night when my students and their parents got a behind-the-scenes look at how their local newspaper really works, they finally understood its importance and that they really could be a part of its future.