In a given month, my meeting schedule is split even between town councils and school boards. The only places that I don't cover in this way are Roachdale and Greencastle.
I've thought about which of them I look forward to the most. It varies month to month; anything can happen. Still, the modes of the boards and their audiences can be predictable (e.g., Cloverdale's monthly meeting and its eclectic host of personalities).
Overall, I've reflected on what my "bread and butter" is as a staff reporter for the Banner Graphic. From my view, it has mostly been the school districts that I cover.
I have said before that I revel in the "featurey" such as the Indiana Film Race, flying shotgun in a Ford Trimotor or an Ubben Lecture. This still rings true, as those are the fun things I've been invited and encouraged to cover outside of my normal obligations.
Throughout my work here at the paper, features I've written about students, teachers and administration on the perimeter, as it were, have been among the most crucial.
I remember attending South Putnam High School's Education Beyond Boundaries event a year ago. I saw students engaging with a community audience, and it was also special to hear renowned international educator Petteri Elo speak about how he was impressed by their commitment. The Banner needed to be there; I needed to be there.
Superintendent Greg Linton didn't have to reach out to me about the ALICE training at Cloverdale last month. I don't think he would've taken the effort if I were to be sensational with it. I'm grateful to have that level of trust with him and his colleagues.
The folks at North Putnam have provided me with many more such opportunities. Highlighting students like a National Gold Key winner, or being invited to talk with a teacher and her kids about what they're doing to better their community, takes initiative, and that's part of why a good rapport with our educators is so important.
The key point here is having a genuine interest in them and the communities they serve. Being there shows them, and us, that we care about what's going on and where they hope to go. This is still the crucial impetus behind the idea of #SmallTownPR.
I find it a comfort that I've become as involved with these individuals in different ways. If I were not to be a newspaperman in my 40s, I can see myself going back and being the "PR man" at Wabash. I can dream, but I know connections are everything.
Covering these kids and their mentors, perhaps more than anything, reinforces this. I want to thank them all for their support, and for being a part of that bread and butter.