School Daze:

This will be the last entry of this sort as my short-lived career as an adult journalism student is over. I took 2.5 classes as I sort of dropped out of the last one. I enjoyed the experience immensely. I found out that I have most of the tools that I need to write on a level that will get published on a major web site because I have done it. More than once. So I feel pretty good about the whole experience.

I made a couple of new relationships which I cherish. My mentor and spiritual guide Ed Ackerman gave me so many gifts I really don’t know where to start. But let me try with this one.

I brought in a collection of stories from a newspaper columnist who I admire greatly. In many ways this is a guy who I credit with giving me the inspiration to write and who informed my style if there is such a thing. I had Ed look them over and pointed out the ones I thought were the greatest examples of the craft I had ever seen. I really do like this guy’s work.

I confessed that I would want to be as talented and well spoken as this guy. That I would give a portion of my anatomy to write nearly as good as he.

Ed looked at me and said “You are better than him.”

True or not it is a great example of Ed’s way. He gives so much inspiration in so many ways, seemingly effortlessly and consistently. He is a marvelous, no, a miraculous teacher. And I mean the miraculous part for I have seen him work nothing short of magic in the classroom.

A walk with Ed anywhere is walk interrupted. Ed knows everyone, knows their name and story and has a word with them all while we try to get across campus to get to the cafeteria where Ed will pay for lunch for strangers in line.

So for those things and many, many others I am grateful for knowing Ed Ackerman.

And then there is Andy Petonak. Andy entered into my life as a firm guiding influence. Although I have a pretty thick skin, Andy taught me more about editing than I had learned in two years as an editor of sorts, and Andy did it in an even-handed, professional manner. He showed me how to not take it personally and did so with a razor sharp sensibility and a no-nonsense technique.

Andy showed me the right way to do things, showed me why and even more importantly showed me how to figure them out on my own when I got stuck.

Andy’s greatest gift to me though, was to watch a master craftsman in the classroom. Andy runs a tight ship but with a wry sense of humor. The way he structures his lessons, the way he gets minds working and the way he evenhandedly deals with the many instances that make teaching at a community college challenging.

Two lessons as examples of what Andy does so well:

I was wrestling with a fine point in an article I had written. I just couldn’t figure out how to do something. Rather than spit out an answer Andy guided me to find it myself. When I remarked on this he replied “I am not an answer vending machine.” which I thought was perfect. Now does that period after machine go inside or outside of the quotes?

Andy had a mini-confrontation with a student in the classroom who was disrespectful in the extreme. He handled it with quiet dignity and so quickly that some in the classroom were unaware. The student got the message, loud and clear.

Andy would be a superb boss to work for. As a person who has had many bosses most of whom I wouldn’t work for again under a death-threat, I would love to work for Andy in any capacity.


I learned more than I expected from this experience. Not only did I gain technical knowledge and confidence. Not only did I gain a deeper understanding of what it is like to actually be a student, struggling to keep up with class work and study.

I also learned volumes about teaching. And for that not only do I owe these two gentleman a debt and at least a beer, my future students owe them as well.

There are those who disparage the educational efforts at L.C.C.C. as a last ditch refuge for students and educators who can’t do better. Taking myself out of the equation I can safely say that you will not find more hardworking or dedicated practitioners of the art than you will find in Nanticoke. The proof in the pudding is the vast numbers of L.C.C.C. graduates who populate the workforce and stun the world with their excellence.



The Rant D’Jour is about the failed Hooters Airline attempt at Avoca airport.

Well the Wilkes-Barre Scranton
Avoca Pittston international airport has gone and done it…more


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About James Rising

A recovering radio addict wrestles with the written word.
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