ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., July 15, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Poynter Institute, a global leader in journalism, has tapped two veteran communicators and mentors, Ernest Hooper and Demorris Lee, as co-directors of the Institute's Write Field program.
Hooper is the Hillsborough community editor and columnist at the Tampa Bay Times. In addition to a long career at the Times, Hooper has spent years presenting in local schools and at the Florida Scholastic Press Association's regional workshops and state conventions. Lee is a communications coordinator for Pinellas County Schools and a former journalist at the Times, who has served as a Write Field mentor. They will direct the program on a part-time basis.
"I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to pay it forward, to honor those who helped me as an aspiring journalist by assisting a new generation of would-be writers," Hooper said. "I'm also excited to work with Demorris. I can already tell his guidance is going to be invaluable."
"The Write Field participants are exposed to the value, importance and love of all writing," Lee said. "And because of this exposure, participants become more confident in their writing abilities and become stronger students. Improving student academic achievement is the goal."
Now in its sixth year, the Write Field is a dynamic writing and academic enrichment program that has touched the lives of more than 140 middle school Hispanic and African-American boys. In a city with one of the nation's highest dropout rates, more than two-thirds of the Write Field participants can now boast of higher grades, including straight A's and dean's list accomplishments, as well as success with the Florida Comprehensive Test Assessment.
The Write Field program was featured nationally on PBS and recognized by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan in 2014 for its work in helping to reduce the dropout rate, especially among students of color.
The program served more than 40 boys during the 2015-16 academic school year. The Write Field is funded by grants and generous individual contributions, with major partnerships with the Tampa Bay Rays, the City of St. Petersburg, Wells Fargo, Pinellas County Schools, the St. Petersburg Police Department, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay and Sacino's Formalwear.
"Poynter is proud of this program and grateful to both Mr. Hooper and Mr. Lee for the vision and experience they are bringing to the students we serve," said Kelly McBride, Poynter's vice president of academic programs. "They've spent the summer beefing up the curriculum by adding new topics, including song writing and speech writing. The young men in the program are going to have an incredible experience."
Applications will be available soon for the 2016-2017 program.
About The Poynter Institute
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., and at conferences and organizational sites around the world. Its e-learning division, News University, www.newsu.org, offers the world's largest online journalism curriculum in 7 languages, with more than 400 interactive courses and 330,000 registered users in more than 200 countries. The Institute's website, www.poynter.org, produces 24-hour coverage of news about media, ethics, technology, the business of news and the trends that currently define and redefine journalism news reporting. The world's top journalists and media innovators come to Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcast producers, and to build public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and protected discourse that serves democracy and the public good.
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