Alongside restless student journalists, more than 40 teachers from across the Bay Area attended an event hosted by the Pulitzer Center Education Program in Palo Alto High School’s Media Arts Center (MAC) at the end of September.
These teachers began a year-long program organized by the Pulitzer Center in partnership with the Santa Clara County Office of Education.
The program aims to show teachers new, effective ways of incorporating journalism and digital arts into traditional classrooms.
Over the course of the year, the teachers will learn four journalistic techniques, all of which will focus on different types of storytelling.
“We have a wide range of teachers, from kindergarten through 12th grade, and different kinds of teachers — science, math, coordinators for arts initiatives and special education — who are all coming to this year-long program to learn how to integrate arts techniques in their classes,” said Fareed Mostoufi, Senior Education Manager at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
The Santa Clara County Office of Education decided to host the event at Paly due to Paly’s large and successful journalism program.
“[The teachers from the program] are learning from [Paly], too,” Mostoufi said. “[Paly student journalists] are innovators in not only reporting, but also in design, in investigative [techniques] and in celebrating each other through journalism.”
In addition to educating teachers, the Pulitzer Center provides grants and travel brands for more than 100 distinguished international journalists.
Throughout the year, these journalists instruct local teachers on how to introduce students to visual literacy and engage them in current events and global issues through photojournalism.
“We bring journalists to schools and we partner with schools on projects, like reporting projects and photography exhibitions that are inspired by a journalist’s work,” Mostoufi said. “[Teachers] are not only practicing photography [through this program] but they’re practicing interviewing, observation [and] stuff that you do as a reporter.”
For the first session, the program brought in documentary photographer Daniella Zalcman, one of its grantees, to talk about her experiences and projects as a photojournalist abroad.
Zalcman discussed two of her photojournalism projects: one covering the LGBT community in Uganda and the other on the assimilation of indigenous children in Canada.
“I think it’s really important to reach teachers and students at the middle and high school levels, to talk about critical issues that I didn’t really learn about until I was much older,” Zalcman said. “Sometimes it’s nice [for students] to see people with an early career come in and see what they’re doing and how they got there. It can be motivational in convincing them that maybe it’s something they want to do with their lives.”
The program hopes to benefit not only the schools it hosts events with, but also teachers worldwide.
“For photojournalism, [the teachers are] ideally going to post all these lessons on [the Pulitzer Center’s] website, which is available for free to teachers all over the world,” Mostoufi said. “So, teachers from all over the world are going to benefit from the teachers in [the Santa Clara County].”