UA Journalism Department to Become Home to National Elementary Schools Press Association
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The University of Alabama’s department of journalism will become the new home of the National Elementary Schools Press Association in May, and fourth-grade journalists will be on hand to cover the announcement.
The department and NESPA officials will hold a news conference May 10 at 1 p.m. in the Tuscaloosa Magnet School library to announce the official move of the 18-year-old national association from Asheville, N.C., to Tuscaloosa. Elementary students in a journalism class will cover the news conference for the school’s newspaper, The Magnet Express.
NESPA, which has more than 750 member schools, helps elementary and middle schools start and improve scholastic media. The organization needed a new home when director Mark Levin retired. The University of Alabama, already home to the Alabama Scholastic Press Association and the Multicultural Journalism Program, was a natural choice.
“We are so excited to announce this move,” said Meredith Cummings, director of scholastic media in the journalism department. “This is a wonderful opportunity to use resources from our department and existing programs to teach young students, both locally and nationally, about writing and the profession of journalism.”
Levin met Cummings about a year ago when she called Levin with questions about elementary school journalism.
“I’m pleased that our phone conversation back then led to this transfer of home from Carolina Day School in Asheville to The University of Alabama,” said Levin, who will attend the news conference. “It is a great step forward for NESPA and a red-letter day for scholastic journalism.”
The UA journalism department has served Alabama middle schools and high schools for 75 years through ASPA but only recently started formal outreach programs at area elementary schools. UA journalism students and faculty have worked with area elementary schools, including the Magnet School, Englewood Elementary, Tuscaloosa Academy and Oakdale Elementary. The department also offers service-learning classes, where college students work with teachers in K-12 journalism classes.
“When NESPA approached us, we were thrilled to step in,” said Dr. Jennifer Greer, chair of UA’s journalism department. “This helps us have a national impact and shows our commitment to the foundations of journalism education at an early age.”
Cummings said she and school officials thought holding a news conference for all media in conjunction with the elementary-school journalists would highlight the thriving journalism programs already in place at the lower grades.
Dr. Loy Singleton, dean of the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences, said, “When people think of scholastic media, they often focus on high schools. NESPA is designed to help support activities in elementary schools and encourage the formation of new programs by sharing ideas and resources.”
UA has already started a website for the group (www.nespa.ua.edu) and hopes to expand the services the association provides.
The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.
CONTACT: Misty Mathews, communications specialist, College of Communication & Information Sciences, 205/348-6416, email@example.com
SOURCE: Meredith Cummings, director of Scholastic Media, 205/348-2772, firstname.lastname@example.org