By Kimmy Turley
IHSPA Student Board President
Mooresville High School
I interviewed Joe Akers, a first year member of the IHSPA Executive Board. Joe is a veteran teacher of 23 years and has been at Noblesville High School since 2007. Currently, he is teaching two introductory courses: Newswriting and Mass Media. Along with that, he is teaching one English 10 course and serves as the adviser of the Mill Stream student newspaper and NHS News broadcast program.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of teaching?
A: The best part of teaching are the students I get to work with every day. They’re the coolest people in the world, and I’m incredibly grateful I get to hang out with them every day. They amaze me with their ability to adapt and tell important stories under every possible circumstance, and no matter the situation, they manage to do everything with a positive attitude. I’m a better person because of their influence.
Q: How have you and your students adapted to this year’s challenges?
A: The past year is not only the weirdest teaching environment I’ve ever seen, it’s the weirdest environment to live in. We’ve had to adjust our work environment for safety reasons, and our calendar for getting things done is literally re-built almost every day. But our staffers never complain – they just figure out what needs to be done and find the best way to do it.
Q: What are you looking forward to most about being a part of the board this year?
A: I think the best thing about being on the board is that I’ll get a chance to listen to some really smart people – teachers AND students – and learn about how other programs around the state operate. That’s only going to make our program better. I’m also looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to the student journalism world in Indiana and hopefully help other programs with the work they are doing. Journalism students are one of the coolest groups of people on the planet.
Q: You are also the associate director of the Hoosier Writing Project. What is that project about?
A: The Hoosier Writing Project is part of the National Writing Project. NWP is an organization with affiliates in every state and several countries that is based on the idea that the best teachers of writing are other teachers. So every NWP site is a collection of teachers (kindergarten through university, in all disciplines, not just English) who get together to help each other become more effective instructors of writing and reading. It’s recognized as one of the best, most-effective professional development models for teachers in the world. The Hoosier Writing Project is the IUPUI affiliate of NWP, and I’m one of the people who help with the work done by teachers at our site.