It’s funny how life can come around full circle. When I was younger and still making my educational rounds in the chaos known as Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, my mom was on the school board. Several years (and psychological scars) later, I think our whole family learned that the impact of a local government entity like the school board is not only powerful in its own right, but also in the right of the people it serves. There are definitely tense moments in a school board meeting, and the late night hours may frazzle some moods and clench some fists. But it is the public forum that I really find so interesting. While I find the rigmarole to be a bit tiresome, I’m glad that we are capable of providing such a direct outlet to the people.
That’s not to say that there aren’t issues with public school systems, and local government in general. But after a long night covering a school board meeting, it’s refreshing to know that I am able to be the messenger of decisions between the decision-maker and the citizen. The meetings may be long and the audience may start to trickle out, but I believe a paper’s policy of staying through a whole meeting is very important. Our world—and particularly, my generation—has a terrible habit of being very averse to devoting a lot of time to something. I’m definitely guilty of that. We’ve turned into a world where churning out information has become, to some people, a priority, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. I’ve definitely fallen prey to laziness and apathy. And I hate when that happens, because I know it’s just a cultural reflection of the “oh-look-a-squirrel” mentality. I know I’m scatterbrained at times. But it’s times like this where I need to furrow my brow at the details and stick it out to the bitter end. I had a pretty good time, too.
A school board meeting can seem so minor to someone, anyone. But it’s a matter of finding the interest in anything, because I’ve definitely found that out. But it’s more than just finding what’s interesting. It’s about finding what’s accurate. I’ve had a couple shortfalls with my reporting, and it’s a painful experience to go through a correction. It’s almost like you feel like you’re worthless. I mean, I sure did. But I know that I’m learning and I really need to wrap my brain around itself. I’ve learning a lot in the past few weeks. But I know I have a lot more to learn, and I’m truly excited about it. It might be frustrating at times for me to take things slowly because once I like something, I go with it—and run with it. Sometimes, I guess, it’s better to take a breath and slow down. Take everything in and be observant, even if it takes a few more minutes. Our culture of speed doesn’t have to mean there should be a lack of discretion in reporting.
I’m glad I was able to get something out tonight with my co-reporter, Allie Hinga. She’s a hard worker and I really admire her. I think we were good at being able to get all the right information out while still being timely about it. The first time covering school board was definitely nerve-racking, but those moments where my mind is racing and my palms are uncomfortably close to sweating that I know the lessons and skills I’m learning are helping me turn into the great reporter I aspire to be.
Moreover, I’m glad—I’ll repeat this again, because it’s true—to have so many passionate people around me. Being stuck in a void of indifference is the last thing this girl needs. I need to be pushed, to be put in an environment where motivation isn’t a unique quality, but rather, it’s a quality that every simply has. I’m a very motivated person, and it’s just really reassuring to see this drive around me. I owe it to everyone for keeping me going.
It’s late, and I’ve got to get to my other work. To be continued!