From the desk of Prof. McBride,

We live in a country that has grown comfortable with the notion that some students are worth educating while millions of others are not. We righteously take exception to the idea that our unfolding democracy will thrive on education as an economic class privilege. We work with high school students from an “urban” school, aka code for black, Latino, Asian, white, and all those who do not come from wealthy families. But who still have a right to education. We do not pose as saviors and we reject the white savior narrative.

This is a save ourselves initiative through sharing of resources and knowledge, a reciprocal exchange of ideas that benefit all concerned. Mentoring in many senses is an intangible. In helping students academically, relationships develop. As undergraduates, we understand the importance of having someone listen to you about life in general. We provide an attentive set of ears to someone a little younger. This is the soul of mentoring. Focusing on the school naturally helps develop micro issues into macro. The school level subject matters reflect the larger society. Issues that we cover will include public education models, public school related issues, and local events that matter to the greater Springfield community. These younger students are attempting to build academic careers in a community many people have written off.

For 14 semesters CPJ has built trust based on a demonstrated commitment to help them develop as journalists and human beings. Our existential reality opens possibilities in the minds of the high school students without saying a word. Our presence speaks volumes every moment. Our fervent leader Professor Nicholas McBride, is an alumni of Commerce High. He credits Phil Sweeney, the former principal, with putting him on the path to journalism.

“The force of his sincerity proved to be the most important lesson in my life. If he had not encouraged me, literally infused me with the courage to dream big dreams, my life would have been altogether different, and not for the better.”
— Professor McBride

Experience has taught us that these students look forward to our visits. Our interaction gives them a reason to remain engaged with school. These so-called minority and “economically disadvantaged” white students deepen our understanding of the complexity of the issues impacting Springfield. We are attempting to smash stereotypes and shrink pessimism to bathtub drowning size. We are creating hope and possibility from the inexhaustible humanity we each possess.

This is a community of wealth, in spirit, creativity, resilience, and positive works, blacked out by local coverage emphasis of what’s wrong as opposed to what is right about the city. This is not to say we are ignoring the serious problems the city faces. It is to say that bringing authentic balance to examining of fact is fundamental to the value of fairness and a journalism of solutions and hope. There is always a nuanced context. Our reciprocal intellectual exchanges and journalism work with these young people give voice to marginalized viewpoints and confronts a power structure that refuses to listen and consider their ideas seriously.

We strive to present fuller pictures that refute stereotype.