My name is Erinn Harris and I have been involved in scholastic journalism since I was twelve years old when I attended my first yearbook camp at Davidson College in Davidson, NC, sans staff and sans adviser. It was love at first crop.

When I was sixteen, I knew that I wanted to be an English teacher and yearbook adviser. That dream came true in 2005 when I volunteered to be the yearbook adviser at Lee High School in Springfield, VA. In August of 2008, I transferred to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, and in 2009, I advised my first volume of Techniques.

Then, in 2013, the newspaper adviser at TJ approached me, wondering if I would be willing to take over the school’s successful newspaper, tjTODAY, and I jumped at the chance.

Jefferson’s publications program (TJ Media) is co-curricular, a hybrid between a classroom model and an after-school club model. A magnet school for science and technology, students come from many different cities and counties around Northern Virginia. As a result, many students have quite long commutes – some as long as four hours roundtrip. In an effort to give these students the time and, quite frankly, the ability to participate in clubs and activities, Jefferson created an eighth block in the academic day designated for clubs, activities, study halls, tutoring, etc… Most of my staffers participate via “8th Period” and form a volunteer corps of approximately 80 students. The kids are great, but since there is no incentive for them to work beyond their own interests and passion, at times their commitment and dedication wanes, just like any extra-curricular club. I love ’em, but they aren’t always reliable.

Fortunately, I do have both a Photojournalism class and a Journalism class. I require that all members of the leadership enroll in one of these classes. These courses count as a Fine/Practical Art credit, which is required for graduation in Fairfax County, VA. These students are my rocks.

I know that there are some advisers out there who aren’t as fortunate as I am to be able to run their publications as a hybrid, co-curricular model. If you find yourself running an extra-curricular publication, I’m making this website for you.

Hopefully, you will find nuggets of information that you can disseminate to your kids as needed. Have a kid who can’t write a caption to save his life? Send him the 30 second video on caption writing. Want to remind your reporter that interviews need to be contain more than “yes or no” questions? Send her “Ten Quick Ways to Turn an Interview into a Conversation.” And if there’s ever anything you need and don’t see, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Since 2005, my world has revolved around scholastic journalism, and it’s awesome. This website began as my Master Journalism Educator project, but my hope is that I will continue to update it as long as I am involved in this crazy jWorld we call home.


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