One of the great things about a month-long winter vacation is that it gives students a chance to sleep late every morning, watch countless hours of television and not have to worry about homework, term papers or exams. However, there are only so many times one can see Maury Povich send out of control teenagers to boot camp before cabin fever eventually sets in.
So I was more than thrilled to get out of the house on January 10 in order to do something productive. Less than seven months after my graduation from Central High School in Philadelphia, I returned to my alma mater to teach an after-school writing workshop for the staff of the school newspaper — The Centralizer.
As a former co-editor-in-chief of The Centralizer, I recognized many faces at the meeting but noticed there were several new, young, eager students willing to learn more about the wonderful world of print journalism. At first, I was unsure of how the students would react to my presentation. After all, Centralizer staff members weren’t very talkative during any of last year’s meetings and according to one of this year’s editors, Jillian McKoy, not much had changed.
Amazingly, the students were very attentive. Usually, people tend to lose interest in something as time wears on, but the students only seemed more interested as I delved further into my presentation.
At first, I was somewhat nervous when speaking in front of the class, but I became more and more comfortable as time went on. I didn’t see anybody looking at their watches or the clock during the meeting, despite the fact it took place on a day where students had an early dismissal (perhaps because the clock was broken).
The first half of the workshop was a brief overview of things the students could do in order to improve their writing, as well as how to conduct interviews. All of the students found the fact that I had once tried to do an interview in high school with an improperly working tape recorder humorous.
However, the part they seemed to enjoy the most was the “copy editing test,” which tested their abilities in areas such as grammar, spelling and word usage. The words that caused the most difficulty for the students to spell were “vacuum” and “sophomore”, even for the tenth graders. One student, who was from Canada, said that she had never used the word “sophomore” before. However, the Centralizer staff members knew that “amidst” and “irregardless” were not real words.
The next day, I spoke to Centralizer faculty adviser Dana Edenbaum, who said that she received plenty of positive feedback from students participating in the workshop. I learned that it’s possible to teach others something if you present the information in an interesting fashion. And what did the students learn? “I learned how to spell [the word] vacuum,” said junior Mary Madesky.
It was a nice feeling to know that I was helping to shape the minds of America’s youth. I was mentoring the masses, and they were grateful for it.