Turning the tables: Reporter gets interviewedPublished 12:09pm Tuesday, May 8, 2012
By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer
This past week was career week at Chelsea Park Elementary School. When I received an email from the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce advertising the need for parents and community professionals to speak to the kids, I decided to say yes.
To tell you the truth, while I think kids are great and look forward to my own someday, children in general make me incredibly nervous. When I heard that I would be speaking to the entire third grade, which turned out to be about 100 kids instead of the 200-plus who attend the school, my volunteerism became a test of character and composure.
When I walked into Chelsea Park, I followed a Pelham police officer into the main office as we signed in. Just my luck — kids love police officers! With the full uniform and the lighted patrol car, I knew I was out of my league with my paper and pen. When I joked, “Of course I would be competing with a police officer,” he shot me a look and said, “I just hope a fireman doesn’t show up.”
It then occurred to me that most professionals in my position are nervous to speak in front of a group of small children. While I think it’s important to show kids the options they’ll have as future careers, who knows what kind of questions kids will ask?
A few weeks ago, I spoke at Calera Elementary School’s career day. As with Chelsea Park, I was amazed at the depth of questions Calera’s kids had.
As part of my presentation, I decided to set up a mock interview with the Calera kids. When I asked whom they would want to interview, inevitably names like Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj came up quickly, but other students proposed we ask President Barack Obama questions about his life.
At Chelsea Park, I asked the students if they had any questions, and little hands immediately shot up. They asked how serious my job is and about the worst thing I’ve ever covered. They asked how I got my job and what it took to obtain this position. The two questions I struggled with the most involved stories I’ve written.
“What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever written?” one student asked. Another one followed up with “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever covered?” I was stumped.
In the end, I was so impressed by how these 8-year-olds came up with truly in-depth questions. And I, of course, told them they would all make excellent reporters someday.
Christine Boatwright is a writer for the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at 669.3131 ext. 16 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.