Thursday, December 27, 2007

Things I Miss About the Education Beat

Yesterday I remarked to a new acquaintance that I missed the education/health care beat at the Las Cruces Sun-News.

She asked what I missed.

Here's a slightly edited version of what I wrote:
  • Mostly, I miss my editor, Harold Cousland. He died in 2001, unfortunately. Everyone should be so lucky as to have a first editor like Harold. He was positive and supportive. He was a great teacher. Harold hired me when I really needed a job in Las Cruces. I started with then cops reporter Keith Allen, and we became friends. Keith now edits the Sierra Vista Herald. Maybe he's looking for an education reporter.
  • I miss the beat. I think the education/health care beat is the best in Las Cruces. City and county are awful because of [redacted to avoid libel], and I don't have the temperament to be a cops reporter. Because Cruces is growing, it is fun to cover education. ... Contrast that to Manhattan, Kan., where I got my master's degree. They were voting on which schools to shut down. That's more painful.
  • I miss sitting in a boring ass school board meeting staring at an agenda wondering how in the hell I was going to find something about which to write. Then all of a sudden someone mentions that the new block scheduling at LCHS made it so not all of the kids could sit down at lunch. I wrote a little story, and controversy erupted. You feel like the Fourth Estate on those days.
  • I miss the elementary school physical education teacher about whom I wrote a feature story. He changed lives. Same with the alternative high school teacher who made history come alive. Meeting those people inspired me.
  • I miss sitting across from Mike Scanlon. He was a good mentor. I miss Frances and -- sadly I forget her name but can vividly see her face -- gossiping about obits and Sound Off.
  • I miss the Organs and the sun. I miss feeling like I made a difference. I miss covering the health care problems of rural Hispanics. I miss driving to Sunland Park to cover some arbitrary thing that wasn't on my beat.
  • I miss Ruth Padilla (long gone) from Memorial Medical Center. Whenever I flaked off a whole day and lost a story or whatever, I could always call Ruth at 3 p.m. and say "I need a story," and she'd have something respectably newsworthy.
  • And although it was later on the sports beat, I miss the LCHS girls soccer team. One of those players from 1998 inspired me so much, we named a daughter after her, and we're still in contact today. She's teaching English in Spain right now.
  • I miss walking up the street to eat lunch at that little hamburger place, which was new then. I miss the Corner Deli.
  • I miss saying things like "never pick a fight with a guy who buys ink by the barrel."
  • I don't miss Safeway, working Christmas, or making $9.72 an hour. I don't miss memos about avoiding overtime, and I don't miss Charles Brunt trying to make me write a story about the teen dance club [I won and never sat foot in that place]. I don't miss corporate henchmen coming to town. I don't miss the weird upstairs men's room.
  • And the green chile. I really miss the green chile.
  • But, mostly I miss the good times. And we had some good times.

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