Frisco ISD zoning, Frisco ISD drops final exams at high school level

The first articles, concerning zoning ordinances, revealed to me that Frisco’s small school size is simply a choice of what is best for students. Small class sizes allow a less stressful and competitive environment in regards to class rank, and allow for a smaller teacher to student ratio. However, I would like to know how these numerous, smaller schools impact the city, or the district, negatively. It cannot be good for the budget- does building so many new schools annually drain more money than simply building slightly bigger schools would? What does this mean for taxpayers or property value for homes in close proximity to the schools? I also learned that neighborhoods are cut into sections (meaning divided amongst several different schools) only in areas where FISD schools are in close proximity to each other; if one is over capacity, a student may be zoned to another, even though it may not be the one closest in location to their home. Though this may not be the most convenient choice for each individual student, it is simply a matter of keeping the schools down to size. However, there are certain situations in which specific circumstances are made exceptions (ex. When Reedy High School was built, seniors at Frisco High School that would’ve been rezoned to Reedy were allowed to stay). My question is- how does the board decide in which situations to provide special accommodations? Additionally, the articles from the FISD website mentioned that curriculum across schools is the same, including consistent programs. How does Frisco ISD make decisions on which programs those are? For example, math classes in Frisco ISD utilize Carnegie Learning workbooks for the entire year, and teachers are required to teach 80 percent of their class out of the book. I am curious about how this is decided, and who makes the decisions.

The next article, concerning Frisco ISD’s extermination of finals, provided much needed insight as to the thought process behind taking away said exams. In the eyes of the district, standardized testing serves to evaluate students and provide the district with information on where students’ progress lies across various subjects. However, in my mind, finals serve a larger purpose than just providing the district with information; it is one of the most helpful college preparation tools that a student has. In acquiring quotes from the school board for my original work, I plan to raise this topic and hopefully hear their opinion on the subject. The district also feels that the STAAR test already takes too much instructional time away from the school year, and that requiring a final exam would be redundant. This holds some truth in it, but not every subject has a STAAR test associated with it. Administering a final exam in every subject would evaluate knowledge in every subject a student is enrolled in, as well as prepare students for the same experience they are guaranteed in college. While composing my article, I plan to take a closer look at both how much time is actually lost through STAAR testing, and how a lack of preparation for finals impacts Frisco students’ performance in college.

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The Perils of Compassion Fatigue

MLA Citation:

Barrett, CJR By Liz Cox. “The Perils of Compassion Fatigue.” Columbia Journalism Review. N.p., 17 Jan. 2007. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.

Even if it has been 9 years since this article was published, it still possesses a massive amount of significance. The war in Iraq is something that all Americans are aware of, but it has lost its sting. We hear of unarmed civilians dying daily, but we don’t pay any attention; it has turned into muted background noise because we are all too wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life to worry about something happening thousands of miles away. As a result, we speak of the war as some far-off thing, checking in on any major happenings every now and then. What does this mean for journalists? It means that we cannot stop caring. If the people delivering the news lose compassion for the people and events they are reporting on, how much less will the audience hearing about them care?

This article taught me that compassion fatigue, not just in war but in any subject, is detrimental to both the quality of the story and the reputation of the journalist. If a reporter tells a story or recounts information that they don’t care about, the story loses its purpose; how can they be expected to deliver important breaking news of our country? This also raises the question- how are they to approach sensitive stories if they have no compassion for their subject? Using vague terms to describe the events of a story makes it deeply impersonal and implies that it is unimportant. However, this raised the question in my mind- Is this vagueness protecting privacy and maintaining respect for the family of the fallen, or is it just embracing “ignorance is bliss?” In the case of war, for example, using the term “in daily violence” and summarizing terrible war happenings in a mere sentence or two takes all of the sensitivity away from the fact that thousands of individual lives are being impacted daily by death, displacement, and danger. Each casualty encompassed in “daily violence” is unique and deserves to be respected.

I also learned that one solution to this dilemma is to always implement compassion when it comes to a story dealing with loss, war, or another traumatic incident. When loss of life, or even the possibility of it, is involved, journalists should show compassion from one human being to another. Even though every battle, explosion, and shooting, foreign or domestic, cannot be deeply delved into, journalists can at least refer to incidents individually, using names and specifics if possible, instead of grouping attacks into one huge category. By showing respect for the fallen and their kin, a journalist can show the importance of a story, as well as imply their feelings behind it without coming out and injecting subjective opinions into a report. This is something that I will keep in mind in my future as a journalist; unfortunately, a good majority of current events and daily news stories involve violence, so being able to implement compassion will be a beneficial skill.

The biggest takeaway for me from this article is the newfound knowledge of compassion fatigue, how to recognize it, and how to prevent it. By keeping in mind the fact that there is a human being affected behind every story, and by weaving an undertone of compassion through my words without blatantly stating my opinion, I will keep compassion fatigue out of my writing in my future career.

Interview Assessment: Stacy Girard

Name of Professional: Stacy Girard

Profession/Title: D Home and D Weddings Executive Editor

Business/Company Name: D Magazine

Date of Interview: 6 October 2016

In speaking with Ms. Girard, I was able to view the world of journalism from a completely new and refreshing perspective. Rather than just another way to get informed on breaking news, upcoming events in the community, and the latest big event in politics, magazines are the perfect medium for inspiration and style to Ms. Girard. From her, I learned that print journalism has numerous realms; anybody can find something that they are passionate about within the industry. Stemming from this, she taught me the importance of writing about something I am passionate about.

As the home and weddings editor, Ms. Girard focuses on publishing the latest and greatest interior design trends, names in real estate, and unique stories behind sometimes triple-digit local homes for sale. A few years back, preceding her time at D, she founded Shuz, a magazine completely dedicated to shoes. Fashion is certainly something that Ms. Girard has a passion for, and pursuing that passion is what got her started in the magazine world. This raised the question in my mind- is there a particular subject that I am passionate enough about that I would like to write strictly about it for a career? I am fervent when it comes to environmental issues- the destruction of our forests, the melting of the polar ice caps, our unprecedented, unsustainable manipulation of fossil fuels- as well as when it comes to food- its ability to naturally cure disease and what it does in the body. Is there a situation in my mentorship in which I would be able to write about one of these topics? I plan on inquiring this of my mentor and actively pursuing any opportunity of this kind that presents itself.

Ms. Girard called the ability to communicate well and be open to new opportunities the most important skill to have as a journalist. As she had to travel often in her previous job position, senior copywriter for Neiman Marcus’s The Book, she was able to experience how individuals interact differently all over the world. Being able to communicate well with people from all walks of life is an essential skill in journalism, because knowing how to relate and appeal to anybody makes conversing with them much easier and more natural. This taught me the importance of gaining experience in communication, being outgoing, and being adaptable to any circumstance. Furthermore, being open to new opportunities, no matter how intimidating they may be, can help build skills that may have been weak before. For example, my mentor has offered to let me fact check a few pieces over the course of our mentorship; while I have never fact checked anything before, I am willing to embrace the challenge and reap the valuable benefits accompanying the practice.

Ms. Girard was able to show me that remaining persistent when acquiring sources and asking hard-hitting questions are not the only type of skills useful to a journalist; there is in fact a whole other side of the industry. Being social, amicable, outgoing, and open-minded are all skills that aid a journalist in building relationships and opening doors to new opportunities.

Interview Assessment: Christine Perrenot

Name of Professional: Christine Perrenot

Profession: Editor

Company: Frisco Style Magazine

Date of Interview: 4 October, 2016

In my fourth informational interview with Ms. Christine Perrenot of Frisco Style Magazine, I was aiming to gain a deeper understanding of writing about the events and people in the community surrounding me. I had previously conducted interviews with Plano and Dallas magazine editors, but something is different about writing stories pertaining to places, organizations, and people that you have grown up around. I was eager to know in what ways my roots in the Frisco community would affect my writing; I wanted to ask Ms. Perrenot about digging deeper into aspects of the community I had never encountered before.

Ms. Perrenot was certainly helpful on this subject. She detailed how the majority of stories reach her through word of mouth and city events, by putting herself out there and forming new relationships with new people. I plan to apply this in all aspects of my future as a journalist; by making myself known and being willing to create new relationships, stories will find their way to me much easier. The more connections a journalist has in their community, the more those connections come to them with stories and valuable inside information on them.

Furthermore, she shared that the most rewarding part of writing stories for a town in which you are so invested is getting to see how your stories impact it. Ms. Perrenot described writing a deeply touching story about an exceptional Frisco man fighting illness with faith, and how it brought Frisco Style readers, as well as the man’s friends and loved ones, closer together than ever in support. Just hearing about the experience engendered within me a newfound reverence for, and connection with, the people of my area. Real stories that reach out to readers and relate to the trying experiences we all endure are the ones that make a difference, and I have made it the goal of my journalism career to do exactly that. More than anything, I want my stories to affect people, to inform them, to entertain them, and to educate them. In writing stories, I plan on keeping this end goal in mind and using my subject matter to make an impact.

Ms. Perrenot also helped me understand the process of publishing a magazine; the deadlines and timelines for writing stories, the time allotted for printing, and each individual job’s role in creating the final issue. I learned that the magazine takes at least a day or two to print, and that the editor must spend a day planning the physical layout of the magazine first. Consequently, stories must be proofread a minimum of one day before that; therefore, the actual written content must be finished roughly a week before the magazine is to be printed. This information will prove exceptionally helpful if I end up securing my mentorship at a magazine, or even working within a magazine in the future; I will already have background knowledge of the publishing process and will know how much I need to finish in what window of time.

This informational interview has helped me obtain knowledge about the inner workings of a regional print magazine as well as the importance of forming connections in the region I will be writing about. My newfound knowledge, intermixed with the cumulative information I have gathered from my research, will allow me to be successful in creating valuable and impactful articles for my audience.

Original Work Proposal

There are several scales on which one can perform journalism- local, regional, national, and international. Each of these are of incredible importance to the group which they serve, providing its members with insightful details on relevant information that affects them directly. In my original work, I hope to kick start my journalism career with a published work of local journalism providing insight on a local institution that impacts the lives of Frisco residents every day. I plan to compose an article detailing the Frisco Independent School District- why it has made the choices it has, how it compares to other surrounding districts, and how it has impacted its students. My article will answer questions such as: Why does Frisco have so many small high schools rather than a few large ones, and what are the pros and cons to both students and residents without children in Frisco schools? How does the lack of district enforced final exams affect students’ performance on the same exams in college? What do students feel that the district could do to improve their education experience?

To do this, I will need to gather several sources for quotes and different perspectives on the subject. These will include students and teachers of FISD, who are directly impacted by any and every move the district makes, and FISD schoolboard members, who make the decisions. I will need to research the contact information and schedule of several Frisco ISD administrators, as well as schedule interviews with them, in order to obtain the information I require. In addition, I will have to conduct surveys and interviews with a diverse range of Frisco ISD students in order to properly represent their point of view. After I have gathered all of the responses I require, I will have to analyze them for similarities and differences, then synthesize them with other facts to form a coherent story.

This article will be able to give the school district direct feedback from their students, and vice versa; it will have the potential to enact changes in our education system. Its composition will also allow me to apply all of my research on procedures to follow when gathering sources; having compassion, being persistent, and having thick skin. Writing this story would challenge me to step out of my comfort zone as a student and take on every responsibility of a professional journalist, from conducting research and gathering sources to writing and editing my story. Creating a full blown piece of journalistic work would help me to lay the groundwork for my future career as well as allow me to turn all of my hypothetical knowledge and “I will’s”  into action and “I did’s.”

Weekly Report 12

This week, I have produced a survey of Frisco student opinion for my original work and drafted emails to send to members of the FISD board of trustees. Using these tools, I will acquire all of the sources I need to add information from both perspectives and give credibility to my original work article. I plan on sending these requests for information this coming week, as receiving responses can vary greatly, and I do not want to be crunched for time. However, I first need to devise a plan for how to distribute my survey throughout Frisco High School, and perhaps even across several Frisco ISD high schools. This aspect of my original work is exciting for me because I am able to put all of my knowledge acquired through research about acquiring sources to good use. Throughout this process, I am able to put the elements of journalism that I have studied so intensively into practice- persistence, curiosity, compassion, and communication.

As soon as I get enough responses, I will be able to do the hard part- analyzing the data and actually composing the article. I look forward to seeing how the point of view of the school district administration on the success of FISD differs from students’ perspective on the same subject.

Weekly Report 11

This week marks a monumental milestone in my ISM year; I have secured a mentorship. I clicked immediately with my mentor, Ms. Staci Parks, online managing editor at D Magazine, when we began discussing journalism in our informational interview. Her willingness to answer all of my questions with such enthusiasm and wisdom fueled my passion for journalism and reminded me exactly why I want to pursue this particular career path. I look forward to the future work I will do with Ms. Parks, and to reaping the benefits of this valuable exposure to a professional publication environment.

In addition to finding my mentor, I was able to do some reflection on all that I have learned from my research thus far. In composing a research speech synthesizing all of the knowledge I have acquired from my interviews and independent research, I realized how far I have come from the beginning of the year. I now have much more background knowledge on the industry, an understanding of basic fundamental concepts within it, and a grasp of the distinguishing factors between the many platforms of journalism. I am eager to display all of this in my upcoming original work article, which I have also begun to plan out. I have begun a list of professionals and groups of sources that I will need to interview for my article, and I plan on figuring out what that will look like as my next step.