Top of the class
Eva teacher/publisher claims national award
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Kimberly Dockery, a teacher at Eva School, is one of 15 educators from across the country to receive a 2005 Leavey Award for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education, sponsored by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. She will accept the award on April 30 at the 28th Annual Leavey Awards summit in Philadelphia, Pa.
The Leavey Awards seek to recognize educators who excel in teaching the concepts of individual opportunity and incentive in order to foster understanding and enthusiasm among young people for the value of free enterprise in a democracy.
Winners receive $7,500 cash prizes in recognition of their innovative programs or projects. Dockery's award-winning entry, "The Eva Examiner," was one of only 13 selected from across the country by an independent jury of economic, business and academic leaders.
Dockery and a staff of nine seventh and eighth grade students write, edit and produce a 12-page tabloid newspaper under the banner of The Eva Examiner. It is published three or four times a year and is self-supporting through grants, single copy sales and local advertising revenue.
The volunteer reporters work on copy and production assignments an hour a day in the school's computer lab and after school as long as it takes. "I knew nothing about print journalism at the start. I'm self-taught. There were times when we'd be up here until midnight working on the first issues," Mrs. Dockery pointed out.
The newspaper was started five years ago as the brainchild of Principal Shelia Burt. "I was applying for my first teaching job and she (Burt) was in line to take over the principal's job," Dockery recalled. "She had received word that her application for a $4,400 grant to start the newspaper had been approved and asked me in my job interview if I'd be interested in working with the paper. I was looking for a teaching job and I agreed to do it."
Dockery said she received application forms for the Leavey Awards program through the mail last summer. She was nominated by a former winner from Mississippi who read a copy of the school publication online.
Student reporters assume responsibility for performing all of the functions of the newspaper, from selling ads to writing stories to paginating the pages and selling single copies in the school hallways, according to Dockery. "They are capable of handling any job and work well together. The pride they have in their work really shows when a new edition has been printed and they can see their work in print."
Dockery said the newspaper depended heavily on grant support in the early years but is now generating enough revenue to meet expenses without them.
"By developing a newspaper that appeals to all ages, selling ads to local retailers and learning how to manage production costs and revenues, Mrs. Dockery and her students were able to make a profit and serve the community at the same time," stated Freedoms Foundation officials in announcing the 2005 Leavey Award winners.