February 2014…Joanne Kelly is heartened by the positive response her school’s newspaper, the Healthy Bulldog, has received since its first issue came out in January.
“The student body loved the newspaper, as did the parents,” said Ms. Kelly, the paper’s editor and a teacher at AMY Northwest (Academy for the Middle Years) in Philadelphia. “I like that it encourages healthful living, not just for themselves but also for their families and their community.”
Ms. Kelly sees Healthy NewsWorks as a good fit for AMY, a special admissions middle school that draws students from all over the city. Expectations are set high at the school, she said, in keeping with the motto of the Philadelphia School District’s Northwest Region: “Excellence is our only option!”
In addition to the intellectual rigor demanded by the program and its connection to the Common Core State Standards, Ms. Kelly believes the exposure to journalism has boosted her students’ emotional well-being. “By being involved with this project, many of my students’ self-esteem has skyrocketed,” she said.
The 27 students in the program put in a lot of work to get the first issue off the press. They quickly learned the variety of skills needed to produce a newspaper. From writing and editing to interviewing and illustrating, Ms. Kelly’s students came together to cover stories about heart health, the unexpected benefits of volunteering, and improving community health.
“I would tell any teacher who is thinking about starting their own Healthy NewsWorks program to just do it,” she said. “This may be the spark that ignites a student’s journalism career.”
—By Beth Hodge, Healthy NewsWorks volunteer