Budding publishers focus on area businesses

Budding publishers focus on area businesses
Diane Overby, Sara Rosenblum, Tac Chown and Maise Warnock

Students ventured outside the classroom using San Marco businesses instead of text books to learn how to make a different kind of literary work – a magazine.
Seventh graders at Julia Landon College Preparatory and Leadership Development School have worked since January on an English Language Arts project to create the first edition of the San Marco Times, which was published last month.

Diana Overby, the English Language Arts teacher who instructed the 110 children who worked on the magazine, was inspired to do the publication from something that she learned about when she herself was still a student, the Foxfire Project.

Diane Overby, Sara Rosenblum, Tac Chown and Maise Warnock

Diane Overby, Sara Rosenblum, Tac Chown and Maise Warnock

Eliot Wigginton, a Georgia teacher who developed the Foxfire Project had his students collect oral histories and folklore from the people of Southern Appalachia and published the histories and articles in small magazine format beginning in 1967.  Eventually, it became so popular that 12 books were published of the anthology, which documented the life skills and culture of the Appalachian people before they were lost along with that generation.

According to the Foxfire Project’s website, the program “is a method of classroom instruction – not a step-by-step checklist, but an overarching approach that incorporates the original Foxfire classroom’s building blocks of giving students the opportunity to make decisions about how they learned required material, using the community around them as a resource to aid that learning, and connecting the students’ work with an audience beyond the classroom.”

After brainstorming ideas, students came up with a plan to use San Marco businesses to learn the entrepreneurial stories in their own community and ultimately create a magazine that implemented requirements set forth by the Duval County School Board for their required curriculum.

Groups of approximately four students interviewed, videotaped and wrote articles on 31 area businesses. In addition, the students created art and poetry as part of the publication. Lee’s Printing, which is located in San Marco, published 250 copies of the inaugural edition of the magazine.

“I am proud of the work they have done this year,” said Overby. “I am often amazed at the unique skills they bring to the table. I never would have seen them, if not for this

Tac Chown, a San Marco resident and one of the students working on the project, said learning about the dedication involved in operating a business gave him more respect for his own parents who are also business owners; and as far as a school assignment goes, he appreciated the change of pace.

“It was much more enjoyable…you are not dragging your feet,” Chown explained. “You have everyone around you. It’s exciting.”

Maise Warnock, another student who worked on the magazine had a new perspective about the business she interviewed, Olive, an upscale ladies boutique located in San Marco Square.
“I go to the Square a lot. I saw it just as a lady who owns a store, but now I see she puts her life into it,” said Warnock, echoing Chown’s comments about how dedicated these business owners are to their pursuit.

But the focus wasn’t only on the entrepreneurs, or even the writing. It was the chance to really know and appreciate their community.

Sara Rosenblum, a student who interviewed Theatre Jacksonville, whose mission is “to enrich lives and broaden cultural understanding through community participation in theatre arts,” felt a kindred spirit between the historical theatre and her school’s own mission statement because both are focused on community.

Neal Mistry was another student who learned a whole new perspective on the neighborhood school.

“My parents told me it was a good area and a historical area, but other than that I didn’t know anything,” said Mistry. “It’s a pretty small community. Everyone knows one another and store owners have a passion for what they do.”

To learn more about their magazine, visit Sanmarcotimes.com.

By Lara Patangan
Resident Community News

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