I had the privilege to meet Amelia Poor at the TCRWP Annual Principal’s Conference. Amelia was among a group of student writers who, so courageously, shared their writing with over 100 principals and school leaders.
Amelia invited the audience on a journey. A journey that began and will continue with writing.
Thanks to teachers who fostered choice and agency, Amelia found her voice. Amelia’s voice opened the door to new places, made a connection with leaders, and empowered her to take risks (which led to some pretty incredible opportunities).
Amelia, so generously, shared her writing with us. Each time I read Amelia’s piece, I am more inspired (all the way through the last powerful paragraph) to offer my students the same purposeful, passion-driven, open-ended opportunities.
In my years of educating, the most powerful teachers I’ve learned from are students.
Thank you, Amelia!
Like all students, I do a lot of writing. I always look for opportunities to write about topics that I care about. I can’t always choose what I am writing, of course. But when I can, I try to make the most of it.
This approach started when I was in third grade. Toward the end of the year, my amazing teacher gave our class an assignment. We were asked to choose a country and explore something that country is known for. I chose France, and my project was about French pastries.
At eight years old, I was already passionate about baked goods. After struggling to find the information that I wanted online or in books at the library, I wrote letters to a few well-known pastry chefs around the city, asking them questions about what they do and why.
Then came the surprising part. Each one of them wrote back to me. A few of them even invited me into their kitchens, teaching me to make elephant ear cookies and allowing me to taste test dozens of macaron flavors.
You can imagine that for a little girl, this was THE BEST! I thought that I knew a lot beforehand, but I came away with so much more. Each visit was an incredible experience, and it was all because I had taken the initiative to write a letter. That showed me at a really young age how powerful writing can be.
The following year, my interests had changed from pastries to politics. When I saw that MSNBC was taping a program near my house on New York Primary Day, I begged my mom to go. I’m so glad that I did. I asked some questions of the crew and ended up getting the chance to interview Chris Matthews about the presidential election and his start as a political journalist. I could have stayed to watch and listen all day. I knew then that I wanted to do more reporting wherever I could.
I decided to join my school’s newspaper club. I also began to work on my own magazine about women in politics for a year-long independent writing project for class. Some incredible teachers and parent volunteers showed me how best to reach out to people I wanted to interview and how to turn those interviews into articles. I was given the freedom to brainstorm ideas and was taught to do some of the not-so-fun things like transcribing audio recordings and editing my writing.
I couldn’t believe how many people answered emails with the subject line “Interview Request” from a 10- year-old that they didn’t even know, and how many people made time to speak with me in person or on the phone. I interviewed local store owners and spoke with a mother who is working to fight against segregation in New York City’s public schools. Gloria Steinem even wrote me back! And I spoke with my city council member, Brad Lander, and one of my idols, Misty Copeland. I learned that kids should not be afraid of reaching out to experts in any field.
This past year, I have had some extraordinary assignments as a Kid Reporter for the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps. Some of the most powerful interviews that I conducted were at the March for Our Lives, with grown-ups who envision a safer country for young people. Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, have made it their life’s mission to fight for gun reform. At the event, Kelly told me that kids’ involvement in the movement would have an “enormous impact” on the future. I saw this when I spoke with students from Parkland, Florida, and the south side of Chicago who have been affected by gun violence and are refusing to stay silent.
Kids are really listening to Giffords, Kelly, and other grown-ups who are looking to better the world for our generation. I have been honored to be able to interview and write about these people who are dedicating their time to benefit young people like me, and I’m really excited to continue writing about things that I care about. Ever since the third grade, writing and reporting have opened up so many doors for me and given me a chance to learn about truly important issues and people.
But there are no people as important to kids as the principals, teachers, and volunteers who encourage us along the way and give us the freedom to make decisions on our own. When kids are given choices on their topics, style, and form, they will always be more open to writing both inside and out of their classrooms.
By Amelia Poor
About the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps:
- Kid Reporter Amelia Poor is one of 45 talented young journalists in the 2018–19 Scholastic News Kids Press Corps.
- Amelia is 12 years old and is a 7th grader from Brooklyn, NY.
- Online Bio: http://kpcnotebook.scholastic.com/user/286
- Kid Reporters in the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps, ages 10–14, cover “news for kids, by kids” with coverage of current events, breaking news, entertainment stories, and sports events from their hometowns and on the national stage.
- Their stories appear online at the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website and in issues of Scholastic classroom magazines, which reach more than 25 million students in classrooms nationwide.
- WEBSITE: www.scholastic.com/kidspress