Cody Harrell walked into his classroom and set down his things for the first day at East Lansing High School on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
Harrell may be a familiar name to some MIPA members. He worked at the MIPA summer workshop for the last five years. He graduated from Michigan State University School of Journalism in spring 2015.
We down with Harrell on a recent day during his yearbook class.
Q: How has it been since you started? How have the students and administration been?
A: The kids are all pretty new to yearbook. There are only two returners. Even when I did terms the first week, the returning kids didn’t know some of them. It is a whole new group.
The culture here is a little different when it comes to yearbook. I have gotten along with the administrators a lot, but I know it’s going to be something where as time goes on I am going to meet some resistance and have to work with certain groups.
Q: Do you have any big plans for your group this semester?
A: Since it’s my yearbook group, my big goal is that we are going to meet all of our deadlines. That has been the thing that has not happened in the past couple of years. Our second goal is to reach our advertisements sale goal because our advertisements have fallen 40 percent within the last year.
Q: How are you hoping to see the students grow individually throughout this semester?
A: I really hope that the students start envisioning themselves as journalists and not just yearbook kids. A lot of them didn’t think this was a journalism class when they signed up. I don’t know how to teach yearbook any other way. Just getting them to think about themselves as journalists is my big goal for the semester.
I think the kids are all starting to get jazzed about the theme and the ideas. Right now we are developing a little bit but the theme is ‘Under Cover.’
With East Lansing basically being in a college town, some of the kids feel like when they go on campus it feels like they are almost undercover college students. Sometimes people can’t really tell if they are high school students or college students. It is all about having that undercover mindset.
Q: Are you hoping to see some of the students attend MIPA events?
A: I am working on getting them to the fall conference. I think once they are at MIPA and once they see all the presentations they will get fired up. I am hoping MIPA will really get the spark in motion. This month, we are just doing boot camp and next month we are going to start hitting coverage so they are going to be overwhelmed.
We had one random East Lansing student attend the MIPA Summer Workshop, but other than that I don’t remember the last time East Lansing sent a kid to MIPA camp. So I am really hoping to get some kids out.
We do not have a newspaper class here yet. One of my goals for the curriculum is that we have a journalism class back because we don’t have one here right now.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about teaching?
A: I love what I do. As first year teacher it is really hard. When you have such high hopes and a lot of dreams you want it to go the best it can. The goal this year is just getting the book done. It’s not going to be the best or the prettiest but it is going to get done.
My favorite thing is seeing the students self-discovery and use techniques to start writing amazing stories.
Q: How did Michigan State or working at MIPA help you with your career?
A: MIPA has helped me with resources and people. (MIPA Executive Director Jeremy Steele) has been incredibly supportive from the interview process to now. MIPA is the greatest resource journalism students have.
Do you know an adviser MIPA should feature? Send your suggestions to [email protected]