Writing lessons to warm the heart

Eric Olson, SBJ EditorMy crystal ball tells me the next generation of writers/journalists is going to be inquisitive, creative and downright funny.

The crystal ball is really a classroom of nearly 50 7-year-olds.

I recently was invited to speak to a couple of second-grade classes at Sherwood Elementary School, where the students have been learning the basics of writing. As it were, they needed a little urging from a professional, their teachers said, to see the real-world importance of the trade. Imagine that, dissent among the ranks.

No problem.

I was honored to be asked to talk about what I do for a living, something that I love. It was a joy to see their faces get excited about the topic as they soaked up the role a newspaper has in a community and what my daily job entails.

“Oh, you grade the newspaper,” one exclaimed with sudden understanding.

Then they fired away with their questions.

“What do you write on?”
“How do the pictures get on the paper?”
“Has anybody gone through the printing machine?”

But the best part came days later, when I received a bundle of handwritten letters thanking me for taking time to share knowledge about writing. What a thoughtful and effective exercise by their teachers – and how funny. They cracked me up, so I’ll share a few (typos and all):

“Dear Mr. Olson …
“I think you’re the nicest editor in Springfield, Missouri.”
“It is cool that you can writ on a computer.”
“Thank you for traing us. How did you get so smart?”
“Thank you for coming to teach us how to put spaises in beetween word so they will be nice. … When I grow up, I want to wite a newspaper to.”
“Your job is so important because you’re an editor and if there were not one we could not read the paper.”
“I think that it wob be awesome to work there and I think you are awesome to.”

I think the Sherwood students are pretty awesome, too, and I look forward to visiting them again. Better yet, I hope something took root where they’d consider writing as a career.
They’re already pretty darn good at it. Their letters provided this editor a little sunshine during the winter season.

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