The title of this blog dates back to five years ago this summer. After two years of advising the award-winning Packer newspaper, I was removed from that position. I still retained my role as yearbook adviser and English teacher,  but my passion for education took a big hit that summer. I’m not going to delve into details. Stories about the situation still surface when my students Google my name (which they do quite frequently). They can be found here, here or here…and countless other places. There is no need to rehash the past. The support I received from parents, colleagues and most importantly students still resonates with me today – it was humbling and extremely inspiring.

That’s why I believe the title of this blog fits so well. The demoralizing blow I experienced that summer was softened through the determination and grit my students showed in their supportive approaches. Above everything else, they represented themselves as young professionals, which is how we operated within the publications classroom.

As teachers, we try to prepare students for the next level. We attempt to make learning authentic and give students a glimpse of “real world” applications. My students used their skills, remained strong through adversity and made me extremely proud.

I have since returned to my position as newspaper adviser. I’ll be starting my fourth year after taking those two years off. West Fargo newspaper students have moved their program to an elite level. They have a massive social media following, a successful, popular news website and an award-winning print publication…not to mention the scholarships, awards and accolades.

Students from that summer inspired me to continue in my adviser role. They motivated me to continue to provide an environment where students control the content of their publication. They showed me (and others) what success looks like when it is fostered in an atmosphere that promotes real world, 21st century skills. It isn’t something that shows up on a test or report card. It is the lasting impact on me and the hundreds of students I have worked with since that summer.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Stay tuned for:
“Starting Something New…Again” (7/25/14)

Jeremy Murphy is a journalism and English teacher at West Fargo High School in West Fargo, North Dakota. This blog represents his observations from his professional growth in his nine year career. In no way should this be mistaken for advice or any form of professional expertise. If you are looking for an expert in teaching, English and/or life, you are on the wrong site. You can follow Jeremy on Twitter at @mr_jmurphy or email him at jpmurphy@west-fargo.k12.nd.us.

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