Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Ashley, News Anchor

I am celebrating my 20th year of teaching by profiling former students who are doing great things in their field. As I've watched them grow into adults, I have been impressed with an aspect of their lives and want to share them with you. I fully recognize that I was merely a small part in their growth and development, but I can't help to be proud. By highlighting these former students I hope to encourage other teachers that what we do is a noble and worthy cause. We have the ability to boost others to greatness we have never considered. 

Confession: I don’t watch the news very much. It's a sad truth that I get most (probably all) my news from 
social media these days. However, Ashley Dugger is a news junkie, if I ever met one.

I’ve dreamt of going into the news industry since I was a kid (third grade to be exact). I watch more news than the average person should, but I love it. It’s something I am truly passionate about and have grown to love more and more as I’m making my way through college.

Digging through some old files the other day, I realized how long it’s been since Ashley sat in my class as a sixth grade student -- nine long years.  I remember Ashley as an eager learner, who enjoyed a good laugh and wasn’t too shabby at figuring out hink-pinks.

Another thing that stuck in my mind is her being very sick at a very exciting time in sixth grade.  Every year the students did a massive (and I mean HUGE) project about a certain country.  The culminating activity was International Day when students come to school dressed in outfits from that country and bring that country’s food.  Ashley was sick for International Day, but she came to show off her outfit and bring some food...then back to bed.  Poor kid.

As always, I asked Ashley how I helped her (or hindered her) along her path.  Here is her answer.

What I do remember is how encouraging you were and how patient you were. We all know 6th graders are not easy. So I think encouragement and patience helped me challenge myself and become a better student and person all around.

The school where I used to teach had a wonderful program called Future Teacher.  High school students were assigned to various teachers throughout our school to basically act as aides.  Some of them actually wanted to be teachers in the future, but most of them were just interested in helping out.  I generally used my future teachers to do the mundane things I didn’t want to do -- filing, grading spelling papers, bulletin boards, etc. By my request, Ashley the joy (?) of being my future teacher for two years, which was great! She never complained, always did great work and found out about our adopted daughter about an hour before I announced her on Facebook.

As it turns out, I’m not the only teacher from Ashley’s alma mater to think of her with high regard.  When I told my wife that I was writing about Ashley, she immediately remembered her Student of the Week interview.  As a high school senior, Ashley was nominated by a teacher and selected by a local news station as their Student of the Week.

The summer of 2012 was a horrible summer for my family.  I was riddled with a rare and disastrous nerve disorder that (among other things) left me unable to watch my daughter while my wife was at work. I used Facebook to beg for babysitting help for both of us. Many friends and former students helped out,  and one time Ashley volunteered.  Not only did she graciously help out around the house, but she also brought a craft from her workplace for my daughter to do.  Very sweet!

Now, Ashley is an almost 21-year old junior at Northern Kentucky University  studying electronic media and broadcasting with a double minor in journalism and honors. This, of course, means that she’s busy. Very busy.  Hold on tight. In her words...
  • I work on campus for our public access television station called NorseMedia. I produce and edit videos for work, and I love every minute of it!
  • I am currently working on my capstone project for the Honors program. A capstone is essentially a year-long project in which students have an opportunity to gain experience in their chosen field by doing a research or creative project. For my capstone, I am working on a 28-minute documentary looking at the music industry by profiling the band Seabird. I followed them around all summer filming them. It was really fun, and I was able to film at Fountain Square for their CD release show and their vinyl release. I also filmed at Bunbury Music Festival.
  • I am very involved at the Bridge Community Church. I volunteer on Sundays and Wednesdays. I sing for three services on Sunday 2-3 times a month (with weekly practice). I am a youth leader and lead a discussion with a group of kids every Wednesday night. I also occasionally volunteer with the media department by interviewing and producing videos. (By the way, her picture is on the church’s home page.)

Ashley credits her parents for her successes. They are incredibly supportive and encouraging, taking a keen interest in what interests her.  

Have you ever met someone who seems to know a very exciting secret they can’t contain?  They just seem happier and more at peace than anyone around them.  That’s Ashley.  She always has a smile on her face. She always seems genuinely happy to be in your presence.  

Ashley loves the news!  She claims to watch it way more than most people but she is drawn by its power to connect to human drama.

I think one of the reasons I love news so much is because it’s an opportunity to learn and meet people. When you cover a story, you’re with people either on their best day or their worst day. You have an opportunity to build a connection with them and impact their lives in every way. I also really love the storytelling aspect of news. I love to read and write, but when I get to tell a story through film and interviews, stories come to life. They’re much more alive. Names suddenly have faces and real lives. So I guess if I could pinpoint three reasons why I am passionate about news, it would be: I love learning. I want the opportunity to connect with people. I love telling stories.

Her future plans involve the normal stuff: graduate from college, get her own place, see the Northern Lights, hug a polar bear cub.  You know… what everyone dreams about. She also has some career goals:

When it comes to my career, I want to be a news anchor. I will have to move away to gain experience, but I do hope to come back to Cincinnati and work at a local news station. Long-term I would love to report for either CNN or NBC. I have always admired (and still do) the way they report their news (NBC more so than CNN).

It will be an interesting ride to watch Ashley’s career grow through the ranks.  Maybe one day I’ll see her on the Today Show.  Regardless, it has been an honor to know Ashley and count her as one of “my kids.”

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