On Friday May 8, I had the pleasure of participating in the St. Louis Public Schools Young Authors Conference—it’s first ever! Knowing there are so many talented children and so many nurturing teachers is a great way to start the day. I was inspired and motivated.
My job was to hold a workshop of sorts where I would talk about my background, how language and writing had played a part in my life. How important a college education was to my success and the process I went through when I wrote my first book, the “Bear Necessities of Business, Building A Company With Heart” in 2006. One of the children had read the book! We had a wonderful give and take. I talked about finding their passion and using their skills in communication to make the passion a priority in their lives. Our most fun part was for them to help me write some Bearisms and maybe a poem or two about BABW. I gave the group about 15 minutes but they were incredible and finished in under 10! I got to take my picture with some of them and I will post as they send to me. The kids were definitely PAWTASTIC!
Through our relationship with Tikatok –the site where you can write your own books: http://www.buildabear.com/tikatok I get so see how hundreds of children have chosen to write stories for, about and related to Build-A-Bear Workshop and buildabearville.com.
Reading something written by a child always makes me smile and reminds me of times I was happiest with a pen and paper in hand or just reading in the library. I was never bored.
Books and then writing opened up the world to me and allowed me to express myself in so many ways. Luckily, I had the good fortune to have great teachers but none is more memorable in the area of writing than my high school journalism teacher, Marlene Adams.
Mrs. Adams really taught me about the power of the written word. When she selected me as editor of the High Lights, our award winning high school newspaper, I was in heaven. The High Lights had always been outstanding but every year the new editor got to give the paper their style and try their hand at journalistic and editorial excellence. In Fall of 1966 it was my turn to run the show. We did win a lot of awards that year but none of those were as rewarding as the REWARDS I got to take with me:
○ The knowledge that I could lead a team of diverse people to success through example and hard work
○ How to express myself concisely (I have deteriorated in this area for sure)
○ How to stand up for what I believe in
○ How to run a business and make a profit
○ Doing the right thing does matter!
Mrs. Adams encouraged me to take my journalistic talents to the next level—to make communication of my passions. I left high school intending someday to be the editor of the New York Times. I majored in journalism in college first at the U of FL and then at the University of Georgia and got even more training from Dr. Ron Lane and Mr. Bob Anservitz who taught me how to love the power of advertising and creating compelling messages and from Dr. Robert Carter who opened up the science of marketing to me.
Thanks especially to Dr. Carter I decided that newspaper journalism was not my bag and instead set out for a career in marketing. In retail to be specific and I use EVERYTHING I learned in college EVERYDAY in my work.
Growing up in Miami, FL I was able to read one of the best newspapers in the USA—the Miami Herald. The “Herald” as we called it was the largest paper and when the Miami News closed down, it took on an even greater significance in our town. In 1959, the Knight Family who owned the Miami Herald created a special recognition program for high school seniors—The Silver Knight Awards. This was indeed the most coveted award for seniors in Miami. Nominees came from every high school in Miami and were selected in categories like journalism, math, science, citizenship and others as well. I was lucky enough to be a 1967 nominee in Journalism from Coral Gables High School. Being nominated was a great honor especially from a school as competitive as my high school. While I was not a finalist, being nominated for something like this was inspiring for me. I had to compete against kids from all over Miami not just my high school and it gave me a strong taste of what high standards really are. In my lifetime I have won many awards including many in high school, and all have been special in their own way but none as personally impactful as the one I didn’t win—the Silver Knight Award. It gave me a chance to step back and see what is possible when one sets their minds to a really high bar–what excellence REALLY looks like. I remember listening to the resumes of the awardees that day in 1967 and seeing how far I had to go. How far I still can go. I hope for the children I met on Friday they will seek the same high bar, find their passion and go for it.
The Miami Herald was and is an excellent newspaper. No matter what city I live in, I measure the newspaper by the Miami Herald. Very few are anywhere close to as good! The Silver Knight Awards were part of the legacy the Knight family left for Miamians. Today there are thousands of former nominees and award winners across the globe making a difference in their communities.
The future of the Miami Herald and many newspapers like it may sadly, be uncertain. Communications and journalism has certainly changed a lot in the least 40+ years since I graduated from high school but what has proliferated are places to write from your heart, like this blog. Today anyone can be a journalist of their own life whether it is blogging, testing twittering or posting on Facebook. Learning to be able to communicate is more important than ever. I know the kids from SLPS that I met on Friday are off to a great start.
The Silver Knight awards were just 9 years old when I competed and they have expanded today to include many more relevant categories as well as Broward County seniors. On May 19, 2009 I will be the keynote speaker at the 51st Silver Knight Awards in Miami, FL. I know it will be a great experience but not quite like winning the award itself. If I was awed by my fellow seniors in 1967, I am sure I will be blown away by the accomplishments of the Class if 2009. I can BEARLY wait!
Hugs to all,
Maxine and my new Rainbow Bear, Andora
P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all of my friends..thank you for sharing your children with me!