Ahwatukee resident and Desert Vista High School teacher Michelle Coro likes to say, “I’m busy and blessed.”
Now, she’s a whole lot busier, and will be blessing high schools across the country with the knowledge she’s gained as a journalist and new media teacher after being named to the National Scholastic Press Association’s board of directors.
For 15 years, Coro has advised multimedia programs at Desert Vista High School, working with students on the staffs of the Thunder Vision, View Newspaper, Storm Yearbook and the DVthundermedia.com website.
She also sits on Tempe Union High School District’s Career and Technology Education media advisory council and the Arizona State Interscholastic Press Association board.
Before getting into education, the Arizona State Cronkite School of Journalism graduate worked for the Tribune company, doing broadcast before and behind the camera in Yuma, Kansas City and Phoenix.
“I was lucky early in my career to gain experience at Tribune Newspapers covering death, destruction and all sorts of dastardly deeds as a police reporter,” she said.
She eventually began teaching, and has earned her master’s in education “with an emphasis in technology because I love to explore tech, photography, writing and learn anything that I can introduce to students.
“That includes everything from bringing in real-world guest speakers to getting an insider’s view of newsrooms and studios that are using the same communication tools to cover stories,” Coro said.
The wife of local sportswriter Paul Coro, she said she drew high praise from the NSPA when it appointed her to the board.
“She incorporates a wealth of knowledge, experience and contacts into her classroom and does so through an affinity to technology tools and toys,” the association said, noting:
“She encourages students to explore areas of media production including writing, videography, digital photography and technology in all her classes.”
Coro herself said her primary focus at Desert Vista is teaching a format “that combines what students have traditionally learned and produced in newspaper and yearbook classes.”
“It’s definitely a challenge to converge these concepts, but the goal is to provide a platform for students who want to be writers, photographers, videographers, designers, copy editors or any other job that can be gleaned from journalism experience,” she explained.
A founding member of the Scholastic Journalism Institute, Coro is on the Jostens National Summer Workshop team at the University of San Diego and is a consultant for numerous workshops and seminars, including teaching broadcast at the Virginia High School League.
She also has added a new challenge by joining the NPSA board, helping the association run national contests as well as education events and conventions for thousands of students.
“As a board member, I’m an ambassador to schools across the country,” she said. “Those of us who are in the classroom engage with other teachers, programs and students to listen to their needs and support scholastic journalism. I was asked to join the board specifically because of my connection to broadcast journalism.”
She has her work cut out for her as she and other teachers and media professionals try to fight for student journalism’s survival.
“Student publications are struggling to survive across the country, but that doesn’t change the need for accurate, reliable content,” she said.
“High schools and colleges are training a body of journalists who can keep it moving forward. It’s not just creating a newsletter or making a scrapbook. It’s so much more. Journalism is the only profession protected by the Constitution,” Coro added.
She will be participating in an association initiative to provide a critique service for students’ newspapers, magazines, yearbooks and broadcasts.
“We can help them take a look at their publications and broadcasts to offer ways to increase content, drive design directions or provide any other support they may need to keep journalism vital on their campuses,” she said.
Coro said that when she first left the newsroom for the classroom, it didn’t take long for her to see “it was a natural fit.”
“It was hard to walk away, but I always tried to bring my experiences and knowledge to students who had an interest in the career and will continue to do so, she exaplined.
“I’ve made every effort to stay informed in both areas. With a spouse who’s a journalist, the profession always has been a part of our lives and our enthusiasm for it trickles down.”