Journalism runs in my family.
My youngest brother, Don Bott, has been teaching high school journalism in our hometown of Stockton, California, for a long time. He’s a superb teacher, as evidenced by his receipt in 2002 of the National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year award (the award is co-sponsored by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition). Later this week, he’s taking a group of his students to Phoenix for the annual convention of the Journalism Education Association, where he’ll receive the 2009 Diversity Award.
But I think he’s most proud of a profile written by a former student who is now the online editor of his hometown paper; the profile was published in today’s Stockton Record. Here’s a sample:
"He wants us to reach out to people who we’d never thought to before," said Arianna Perez, 16. "He wants us to see what their story is, to bring out what’s under the surface."
Chelsea Collura, 15, said Bott pushes students to explore Stagg’s vast diversity, making their reporting more reflective of the campus.
"We have students from all over," Collura said. "We get better stories when we explore."
Take, for example, the cover story in the edition scheduled for release Friday. It’s about how the recession is impacting students on campus.
Bott said most of Stagg’s students don’t think about how their peers are being affected when parents have no money to put food on the table or make ends meet.
He encouraged his journalism students to reach out to that population of the campus.
This isn’t new. His students often tackle niche populations on the campus of 1,800, while reporting the big-picture stories.
"You can’t just do the same things all the time," said Samantha Espinoza, 17. "You have to change it up."
At Stagg, it’s not uncommon to have 10 or more nationalities and ethnic backgrounds in one room at any given time.
The students get it.
"We come from different backgrounds and we come from different cultures," said Lissette Rodriguez, 16. "We are able to see our school through different eyes."
And Bott helps them see potential in themselves they wouldn’t otherwise.
Nicely done, little brother. We’re all proud of you.