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From the deputy publisher: The Next Generation | From the publisher | Seven days

click to enlarge Cathy Resmer met "Valued citizen" Harriet Sterling at the 2023 Good Citizen Challenge Statehouse Reception - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR

  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Cathy Resmer with “Distinguished Citizen” Harriet Sterling at the 2023 Good Citizen Challenge Statehouse Reception

Although I have never technically been a teacher, through my work at Seven days I have spoken to countless students of all ages about journalism and media literacy. Recently I met a class at Proctor Jr./Sr. High school via Zoom.

English teacher Sarah Cheney had the students read a story Seven days and write a letter to the editor in response. In the virtual session I gave a few tips: cite sources, speak from your own experience when it matters, and just because you can write a maximum of 250 words doesn’t mean you should!

A number of their posts appeared in print this week; you will find them in the Feedback section.

Student writing appears in the summer issue of our parenting magazine, Children VTalso found this week Seven days; it includes two poems by members of the Young Writers Project. The issue also launches a new Good Citizen Challenge. Through the challenge, students in grades K through 8 complete civic-focused activities such as reading five stories in Seven days – to enter to win a free trip to Washington, DC and other prizes.

Training kids to follow local news is not only good for our business, it’s also good for democracy.

Many of my colleagues also have contact with students. This spring, news writer Rachel Hellman met with a group from Camel’s Hump Middle School in Richmond; they wanted to know what it’s like to be a professional journalist. Music editor Chris Farnsworth and Burlington reporter Courtney Lamdin both recently spoke to Burlington High School classes about writing music reviews and reporting on town hall, respectively.

Are we actually reaching these children? Honestly, it’s often hard to tell in the moment what makes the comments we receive afterwards so meaningful.

Courtney received one from a young woman at BHS: “I wanted to reach out and thank you so much for working with our class and helping with my research project!” she wrote. “Our discussion at City Hall, your article and the debate you helped organize with the mayoral candidates have made me invested in Burlington politics and how I can be part of the change.” In a follow-up email, she added that she had just interviewed Mayor Emma Mulvaney-Stanak about being a woman in politics.

Seven days Employees also interact with students. In February, news writer Derek Brouwer spoke to 20 students enrolled in a ‘Social Problems’ class at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester. Adjunct Professor Michael Ohler assigned Derek’s December 6, 2023 cover story: “Out of House and Home: Chittenden County landlords are being evicted at a record pace. But it’s the sheriff who’s knocking.” It was on the syllabus next to Matthew Desmond’s book Plotted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

A week later, Ohler sent Derek a thank you email: “Last Monday’s class was great. The students still talk about it. Somehow, as they were reading a book about eviction, your words made it all very real.”

The most rewarding interactions we have with students often occur with our collegiate interns. This summer we’re working with six of them – from Northeastern University, Swarthmore College, Wellesley College, Tufts University and Middlebury College – many of whom start this week. They will be part of our news, culture and design teams, and one of our two Midd children will help me manage the Good Citizen Challenge. They will take part in staff training sessions on how to take compelling photos and videos, as well as breaking news. Last summer’s interns contributed to our coverage of the catastrophic flooding.

The experience we provide helps prepare our interns for jobs in journalism; our alumni include Vermont Public reporter/producer Sabine Poux and VTDigger.org senior editor Natalie Williams.

Want to help us train the next generation of readers and reporters in Vermont? Become a Super Reader and contribute to support our efforts financially. And if you have young children in your life, help them take the Good Citizen Challenge at goodcitizenvt.com. It’s free, it’s fun, and you’ll both feel more connected to your community – the most important lesson.

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