It’s honestly been years since I’ve thought about, or paid much attention to, back-to-school time. I don’t have children, so the annual rush to get supplies, clothes and shoes that accommodate rapid growth just kind of swirls around me in a haze of disconnect and hilarious anecdotes from parent-friends. Historically, anyway.
But that’s about to change.
I’m going back to school … 18 ½ years after I graduated. That’s because starting Aug. 24, I will be an adjunct professor of journalism, teaching political reporting at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
Now, that doesn’t mean I’m leaving the Express. I’ll still be sticking around, leading the talented news team that you have come to know and — I hope — trust. I’ll still be taking photos, writing stories and, of course, blabbing away at you in this column. I’ll still be the editor responsible for the tough decisions and quality assurance of the news, opinion, business, lifestyle and sports stories that end up in print and online.
And I’ll still be sticking around to hear your thoughts, voices and ideas.
I continue to be committed to Southeast Colorado Springs: to the readers who became sources who became friends and to all the amazing individuals who call this vibrant and exciting area of town home. I am proud of the Southeast Express and grateful that I will have the opportunity to continue to curate the paper of, for and by this community.
Launching this paper has been one of the great honors of my journalistic career; and I have been blessed to work with some top-notch reporters, world-class copy editors and designers, and a pair of extraordinary interns. The team you see now of staff writers Heidi Beedle, Marcus Hill and Zach Hillstrom, and our wunderkind news intern Adelaide Evans, are dedicated to the paper that serves the area they and/or their immediate families call home. They are professionals, they are hard-working and they are eager to hear from you when I can’t.
I’ll confess, it’s kind of strange to think about being back in a classroom, after nearly two decades in a newsroom. It’s no secret COVID-19 has changed the way that we’re looking at education, not just for this year but probably forever.
The safety and well-being of my students — 12 as of July 30 — is obviously a huge consideration. Since my team has held everyone else up to the magnifying glass this edition, I’ll say that as of July 30, the plan is to take a hybrid approach that will include meeting in the classroom and online, and the physical space in which we will be meeting is something between a large traditional classroom and a small lecture hall. I’m confident that even if we hit the maximum 15 students in that room, we could still safely maintain at least six feet of social distance.
But still, a campus is a campus and a pandemic is a pandemic; it’s an odd time to be starting a new journey toward fulfilling a lifelong dream.
I suppose I could get hung up on the concerns, the risk, the anxieties of being on university grounds. But then again, I could have been stymied by the sometimes-overwhelming challenges of launching a newspaper at a time when the common belief was that print journalism was a thing of a bygone era. You made me believe, then, that every mountain was worth summiting; and I have faith, now, that this challenge will also be surmountable.
All of which is to say that yes, things have changed and they are still changing. The Express, much like our education system, is entering a new era. But both will emerge on the other side, stronger, more resilient and beautiful.
Kind of like Southeast Colorado Springs, itself.