American Teacher-Esther Wojcicki

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Esther Wojcicki

Holy Smokes! what kind of journalism program is she running at Palo Alto High? The school...the HIGH school, publishes a newspaper, web-based paper, a general interest magazine, sports magazine, fine arts magazine, and some other magazines. The founding editor of the arts magazine told me the magazine got its start because she and her friend wanted to do an arts magazine so they started one! Wow! Simple as that! The kids here are driven.

I had lots of fun photographing Esther. She had a calm coolness about her that comes from years of experience and knowledge of her abilities. A laconic assuredness that gave confidence to her comments without any sense of ego. While I was setting up the shot, Esther was meeting with a student editor who was absolutely furious at the action of one of the reporters who she felt violated journalistic ethics. She’s pouring her heart out at Woj the way only a high schooler can, just LIVID at the stupid antics of this reporter. The whole time Woj is listening, almost detached, voice flat near monotone. Just like the no-nonsense, seen-it-all paper editors you see in movies. “Um hum”, she’d say. “Yes that’s terrible.” “Yes, I see what you mean”, she’d say calmly, flatly. but the thing is, she WAS listening. And what struck me was the way Woj spoke to her editor, less a teacher to student and more professional in tone.

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This reminded me of something she said the beginning of the day; she gives the students a platform to do what they want and publish what they want and tries to stay out of their way.  The way she figures it, She doesn’t need to tell her students the importance of proper spelling and grammar. The students implicitly understand why they need to know proper grammar because they can’t write an article without the ability to spell and write correctly. I love this “teaching without teaching” method.