Friday, May 2, 2014

The best night of the year

Unless you do what I do for a living, you have no idea how special last night was.

I once again had that rarest of opportunities, the chance to sit in a room with more than 500 people, almost all of whom had nothing but praise for the newspaper. Believe me, that's not always the case.

I was on hand once again for the Partners in Learning Celebration, put on by the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union and Delaware County Intermediate Unit.

I was honored to bestow awards on this year's All-Delco Hi-Q team, as well as the winners of the Excellence in Teaching Awards. My deepest thanks to Rick Durante and John Unangst for the invitation, even if they did have me follow the lovely Katharine Scott, reporter/anchor from 6-ABC Action News and our emcee for the evening, to the stage, proving once again that mine is a face made for the newspaper. Still, it's an invitation I never turn down. Why? I'll tell you.

We devoted our front page and several pages inside the Sunday and Monday newspapers to displaying the All-Delco Hi-Q team and Excellence in Teaching honorees.

Were they the most important stories on those given days. Some people would argue not. We decided to plaster them all over Page One anyway. I do that for a very good reason.

It allows me – and the newspaper – to report good things about two groups of people who very often are getting a different portrayal by the newspaper and DelcoTimes.com, one that doesn't always paint them in the best of lights.

we are usually criticized about when it comes to our coverage – young people and teachers.

I am always asked, by educators, administrators and parents, how they can get their kids’ names and pictures in the newspaper. My answer is not necessarily what they want to hear.

Let them do something wrong.

Young people are always in the paper for doing something they shouldn’t; when the tables are turned and it involves something good, it rarely makes the paper. The exception, of course, is our coverage of high school athletics. That's where all this All-Delco business started. We select an All-Delco team at the conclusion of every high school sports season in each sport. It was always a goal of mine to do something similar for kids who excel in academics.

As for the teachers, I have two very strong connections with them. I always tell people that I do what I do for a living for several reasons, but one of them is unquestionably the first eight years of my education, when I served at the fairly firm right hand at the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I can diagram a sentence like nobody’s business.

My son is now in his second year teaching high school English. Yes, he went back. I’m not sure anyone ever told him – or his parents – just how tough that first year of teaching is. So I am glad to report that he persevered.

At this point, I should mention I was there in part last night as a "make good" for a mistake we made in this year's presentation of the Excellence in Teaching Awards. We ran the photo of one of the teachers twice, while omitting another. We corrected that the next day. I guess that's why the awards are for Excellence in Teaching, not necessarily excellence in editing.

Then there was that fellow who appeared on Page One. His name is Michael Heron, from Springfield High. To the best of my knowledge we are not related, so there was no nepotism involved in his appearance on the front page of Monday’s paper.

I will be forever grateful for the visit I got a little more than 10 years ago from John Unangst, head of the Franklin Mint Fed Credit Union, and Harry Jamison, who then headed the IU. They were both enamored of our tradition of selecting All-Delco athletes for every high school sports, and wondered if we would like to partner in doing likewise for an All-Delco Hi-Q team.

It is my job to present the news. That means the good and the bad. I will be the first to admit that picture very often can be skewed toward the negative.

That's why it is imperative that we strive to balance that image. That is why, this Sunday and Monday, the All-Delco Hi-Q kids and the Excellence in Teaching winners found themselves plastered all over the front page of the Daily Times, and gracing the lead spot on the home page of DelcoTimes.com.

That is our mission. In fact, it is our duty. And in reality, it’s a privilege to offer that kind of coverage of local students and teachers.

And it's why why I hope to keep going back here to the Partners in Learning Celebration for years to come.

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