Friday, October 11, 2019

Author Anna Crowley Redding shares her wisdom with middle school students

By Matt Pascarella

Since elementary school, Anna Crowley Redding has always had an interest in writing and literature. She was naturally curious and liked asking lots of questions; this later served her very well when she became an investigative TV reporter.

However, she had always dreamed of becoming a writer for young readers. After her children were born, she used her knowledge as an investigative reporter to uncover stories for kids.

She brought her knowledge to Windham Middle School on Friday, September 27th. Students had the opportunity to hear about her experiences, her writing process and participate in problem-solving activities as well as a mock press conference. started out writing articles for her college newspaper, the Northeastern News. “Learning journalism in Boston was a fantastic experience,” stated Crowley Redding. “I felt that every day I was learning from the best in the business. I worked off-air as a field producer, intern, and associate producer for NECN.” Crowley Redding became a TV reporter in Utica, New York; then Syracuse; then Charlotte, North Carolina. “Every station taught me so much about writing, investigative reporting, and on-camera presentation,” she added.

Her reporting did not go unnoticed. She has won Edward R Murrow awards which honor outstanding achievements in broadcast and digital journalism. Crowley Redding has been recognized by the Associated Press and has an Emmy for an investigative piece she did about an ice storm.

Investigative reporting allows you to make a meaningful difference in your community and in people’s lives. It’s hard work and often stressful. When you can produce results that matter to the people most’s a very fulfilling experience.”

Crowley Redding decided to switch career gears after becoming a mom. She was always reading books to her boys about following their dreams and writing for young readers had been a dream of hers since she was old enough to remember. Eventually she went for it. Her debut book, ‘Google It’ tells the story of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two Stanford College students who created what today is the most used search engine. ‘Elon Musk: A Journey to Save the World’ is a biography of the struggles Musk has gone through and his big dreams for the future. ‘Rescuing the Declaration of Independence’ (out in 2020) is Crowley Redding’s first picture book. It tells the true story of a man who risked it all to save our founding documents.
Autumn Wood, Tiffanie Scott and Mia White
work together on the domino challenge

During Crowley Redding’s presentation she spoke about the power of problem solving and the role failure plays in accomplishing your goals. Although it may look like it, success isn’t something that just happens – people have to work at it. “Don’t give up, you are enough” she stressed.

To help illustrate problem solving and failure, students had to work together in groups to stack dominoes around a large table. The goal was to be able to set them off and have the oval go successfully around the table. The students were given three tries to do this and it is a much tougher challenge than it sounds.

Another class held a mock press conference about a pretend fire that had happened in Windham. Each group had to take and sort the information given and then write a news report for the station they worked for. Each station had a different spin to their stories, e.g. appeal to a young audience, sensationalistic journalism, or Big J journalism, which focuses more on the quality of the story.“I hope that in talking to students today, they’ll feel inspired to follow their own dreams, to believe that they are enough, and that when problems and obstacles appear (and they will), that they are capable of finding a way to overcome setbacks.”

Seventh grader Fletcher Vopal observed, “It was was cool how she started out small and it’s inspirational for people who want to start doing big stuff. I learned if something fails you have to keep getting back up...keep trying and trying until you succeed.”

Seventh Grader Mia White remarked, “I learned a lot because I am starting on a graphic novel and it was a lot of good feedback about what I need to be thinking of if I do want to publish it. I was really inspired by the fact that Crowley Redding had struggles and she got up and blew everyone away. Anyone can really do anything if they set their mind to it.”

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