As a writing teacher, one of my greatest rewards is seeing students using their hard-won skills in real life. One student who has recently done this is Michael Bowen. He graduated from my Level 3 class in 2019 and went straight to joint enrollment, completing his English requirement the next year. He graduated from high school in May 2021.

Michael was all set to head to college in the fall, when the newspaper in their small town came up for sale. After some serious discussion and planning, his family bought the newspaper and Michael put his college plans on hold for a while to become the editor!

Michael thinks the Real World experience he is getting from the newspaper will help him in the future, when he does finalize his college and career plans. Currently, at age 19, he is the youngest newspaper editor in the state of Georgia and possibly the youngest in the country.

I’m really not surprised at this turn of events. Michael has always been enthusiastic about writing and about tackling new activities. He and his brother Nathan took up sailing several years ago and have already “made waves” in the highly competitive world of youth sailing. Together, Michael and Nathan also competed in the National History Day Project a few years ago, taking top prizes at the local, state, and national levels. Ultimately their project was chosen for display at the Smithsonian! Their mom, Joan, is the enthusiastic coach and cheerleader, and now is playing a key role in the never-ending cycle of putting out the weekly paper, while their father works as a Delta pilot. The Bowens are always up to something new and inspiring.

Just for the record, I do not teach journalism in my classes. Michael will have to acquire a vast amount of journalism knowledge in addition to his writing skills. A small town weekly newspaper is not a trivial undertaking; it takes a tremendous amount of work, and the editor wears most of the hats. But he has solid writing skills already, as well as a dauntless, pioneering spirit, which I am sure will stand him in good stead. Visit The News-Reporter to see Michael’s hard work!

I hope to do a Zoom interview with Michael one of these days, but right now he is up to his eyeballs in the weekly production of a newspaper. 🙂 Congratulations, Michael! As we say in Level 2, DO HARD THINGS! I am proud of you for using your writing abilities and for forging ahead in developing new skills.

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