If you had the chance to interview Craig Melvin, Marcus Lattimore, or Mark Sanford, what would you ask them? In Heathwood’s Studies in Leadership and Applied Journalism class, Upper School students sat down with these leaders and more to discuss their experiences rising to the top of their respective professions, the challenges and opportunities they have faced, the values that inform their decisions, and more. The students then worked together to to produce a five-episode podcast showcasing each of their interviewees’ insights and perspectives.
Team-taught by Upper School Head George Scouten and political science teacher Julie Firetag, the course also drew on the expertise of Heathwood’s Director of Technology, Bill Cherry, and was the brainchild of Early Childhood parent Josh Stoler, making it a true collaborative effort. Professors Laura Smith and Charles Bierbauer of the University of South Carolina’s School of Journalism also helped the students hone their interviewing skills and learn the requisites of journalistic storytelling.
Over the course of producing the five podcast episodes, each student in the class played different roles – interviewer/host, producer, researcher, and editor – so that they all developed proficiency across a range of journalistic skills. Simultaneously, they spent the year exploring the topic of leadership through a series of deep dives into the topic with their interviewees. In addition to Melvin, Lattimore, and Sanford, these included Civil Rights pioneer Janet Hill, who served as a mentor to Michelle Obama, and Lt. General George Flynn, who directed multinational military operations in Iraq.
Pulling together faculty with different areas of expertise to create a cross-disciplinary course, said Dr. Scouten, allowed for a richer learning experience that more closely mirrors the experience students will have when they enter the workforce. The course “gave the students an opportunity to learn a lot of skills and learn how to draw on all of those skills to produce a tangible product,” he said. “These students can now tell prospective employers, ‘Here is something I made,’ and ‘This is something I can offer you.’”
Learn more and listen to the podcast series at https://www.heathwood.org/outspoken-leader.