The Final Class

Earlier this evening I held my final class of the semester at Manhattanville College. As I was wrapping things up, leaning against the blackboard with 10 of my 13 students in attendance, John asked, “Are you going to start crying?”

“No,” I said with a laugh. Truth was, there were small tears beginning to gather in the corners of my eyes.

In other words: I loved this class. Absolutely, positively, 100% loved it.

When I started back in September, I had no idea what I was walking into. I’d lectured at a whole bunch of colleges and universities through the years, but never before had I had my own class. Plus, this was Inroduction to Journalism—ledes and news and the pyramid and all that jazz. It’d been a loooong time since I’d last written straight news. How would I cope? Could I hold their interests?

I suppose one would have to ask the students, but I felt like the whole semester went very well. To start with, I always brought food. Cookies. Candies. Whatever. So the bribery helped. But it also helped that my students were—1 to 13—amazing. I felt like they gave their all to the class and, thusly, I gave my all to the class, too. It was clear from the very beginning that most of the students weren’t taking the class to become journalists, and I was OK with that. What I really wanted them to uncover was passion … for something. If, years from now, all 13 are stuck in dreadful 9-to-6 desk jobs, I’d consider the whole experience to be a failure.

Along the way, the class was helped by some dazzling guest speakers. I wound up with four—Brian Hickey, Peter Richmond, Steve Cannella and Amanda Sidman. Whenever I’ve had someone come in, I’ve always found myself a wee-bit jealous. I had soooo much to say, and it wasn’t my turn.  🙁

Anyhow, the highs have been euphoric and the lows insignificant. Today, as I wrapped things up, my students presented me with the ultimate parting gift: They didn’t leave. We sat and talked and talked and talked, and near the end they gave me a round of applause.

I’ll miss these guys terribly.