Dispatch writer receives state award

By: Staff Reports | Email: Click Here
Posted: September 26, 2018 | 2:50 p.m.

Each year the Virginia School Board Association recognizes media representatives in print, radio and television by naming those they consider outstanding. Some of the criteria for honorees include that they make the effort to get to know the superintendent and board chairman, understand the division’s mission and goals, give a high-profile position to good news about schools, regularly visit the schools, and report school news in a manner that is fair, accurate, and balanced. On Sept. 13, Sussex-Surry Dispatch writer Terry Harris was named to the VSBA Media Honor Roll.  

At the presentation – held at the Surry County School campus where her nomination for the state honor originated – Superintendent Dr. Michael Thornton said, “This evening we are pleased to present to Ms. Terry Harris, journalist with the Sussex Surry Dispatch, a very special recognition.  In June, the School Board resolved to nominate Ms. Harris for the 2019 Virginia School Boards Association Media Honor Roll.  This evening we are here to present that along with a special certification of the honor. But first, I’d like to read a little bit of the background of the VSBA recognition.” 

“Reporters and local media outlets play an important role in public education. School division leaders rely on responsible reporting by local media representatives so that our community members receive timely information about division initiatives and programs. Considering the impact that media coverage can have on community attitudes and beliefs, the Media Honor Roll was created to recognize fair and balanced reporting about our schools and Virginia’s public education system.  This year the Surry County School Board unanimously approved a resolution to place the name of Ms. Terry Harris on the 2018 VSBA Media Honor Roll.  So on behalf of the Surry County School Board and its chair, Mrs. Elsie Dennis, we just want to congratulate you and thank you for your support.”  

Michael Thornton, Superintendent, Marion Wilkins, Laura Ruffin, Terry Harris, Elsie Dennis (School Board Chair), and Audrey Byrd at the presentation of Harris’s recognition by the VSBA.  

Upon presenting the award, Chairman Dennis said, “Ms. Harris, I just would like to say that we are excited.  The School Board does appreciate everything that you have done. Because as we read in the paper about all these things like conferences that we attend that teach us to help our students here at Surry County Public Schools, and you reported about the accreditation of all of our schools – of course that’s so important to us, and we’re just so happy.  You’ve just done such a beautiful job and we thank you for that.”

She then called on the board to stand as she read the certificate which stated, in part, “Your work has aided this community in focusing on the goal of providing the best public schools we can for the children who attend them.”  

In response, Harris said, “When Womack Publishing hired me a little over a year ago to bring local news to Surry and Sussex Counties through the Dispatch, I was so excited.  Still am. Because I had  so often wished that I could write about the good things that go on – the good news. And I truly believe that, especially from a local paper, people want to hear the good stuff.  Of course if the bank gets robbed I’ll write about it.  But my passion is sharing good news whenever possible. Because I have always been about kindness and fairness and honor – things which I see so clearly demonstrated in your work with students here in Surry County.  Surely the hard work you put into the successful goal of achieving full accreditation for all your schools is a prime example of good news – of the best kind of news.  I love to write about the good, positive things you are doing, to keep the local folks informed of things going on that really matter to them.  And what could be more important to a community than the well-being of their children?  Writing about Surry County Schools is  a joy and a privilege, and I sincerely thank you for this honor – for letting me know in this tangible way that my sharing the good news about the great things going on in your schools does matter to you – because it certainly matters to me. Thank you very much.”

Copyright 2018 by Womack Publishing
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