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I saw two really incredible sights yesterday:
- The giant Super Moon (plus one day) rising over the recently plowed barren fields of the Mississippi Delta.
- A group of educators, counselors, activists and administrators sharing views on how to make education in the Delta better.
Last night, Mississippi Today hosted a Public Newsroom at King’s Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Clarksdale. It was an event based on the excellent three-part series Teacher Shortage series by Mississippi Today‘s talented Delta reporters Aallyah Wright and Kelsey Davis. (Click on this link if you missed it). Aallyah and Kelsey hosted the evening, moved the discussion along as each person had a chance to speak about their experiences in education. They also shared their opinions on the series and ways that education in the Delta can be improved. The crowd broke up into small groups and brainstormed on more ideas how the system can be fixed. Oh yeah, there were cookies. Cookies are always good.
A few thoughts on it:
- Aallyah and Kelsey did a great job running the show and I think the evening really helped the audience. But it also benefited Aallyah and Kelsey. As journalists, we need to get out in the community we cover so we can have better understanding of the issues we cover. Aallyah and Kelsey are pros, but I know they got several good leads for stories and excellent background for the Delta beat they cover.
- The challenges the students AND teachers face is daunting. We all come into this debate with our own preconceptions but sitting there and hearing about what is actually going on from the people on the ground is sobering. I heard about challenges like teachers who work two (and sometimes three) jobs or students who don’t have certified teachers teaching them and are forced to use computers. And particularly the effect of poverty on the whole system. I walked away from the night with so much respect for the good teachers who are there because they believe in their calling and the kids they teach. Several of those teachers were in the room last night.
- King’s Temple Missionary Baptist Church had a welcoming feel and seems like a wonderful church. One of the unexpected pleasures was getting to know Pastor Edward S. Thomas (who also teaches during the week.) One thing I know for sure is that I wish I had his energy. And not to sound corny, but you could feel God’s presence in that church!
- I traveled with Mississippi Today‘s engagement team (which I am a part of). We ate at Yazoo Pass (good eats) and met at Mississippi Today’s Delta Bureau. I drove back after the event, dodging deer and trying to stay awake. But I was rewarded with a spectacular moonrise over the Delta. It’s such a beautiful land with so many vexing problems.