During my senior year, I have been writing and publishing weekly stories to the Innovate Dayton blog. But at the start of my second semester, I took on a new role as a leader for Dayton’s Blog Squad club where I am the team’s writing mentor and editor. The aim has been to empower these students beyond the classroom and help them find their voices as storytellers.

Our experience hasn’t been exclusively focused on writing — it is also about expressing ourselves by exploring our literary outlet. My team is going over the basic steps of researching, writing, and publishing articles to Dayton’s school blog. They are learning how to write and research in a brand new format. At the same time, I am learning how to be an educator and a leader.

We are constantly learning side by side, which is creating a powerful team dynamic.

At the beginning of my senior year, I was a new writing intern. And after writing my first couple of stories for the school’s blog, I began to more deeply understand ‘Innovate’ as a culture. A way of thinking, learning, and sharing, at its core. I was inspired by my educators around me, who began stepping out of their comfort zone to use class time as an opportunity to experiment with education. During these experiments, they established new classroom dynamics, explored new methods of teaching and learning, and even created entire classes based off of their new ideas.

The collaborative story of Innovate Dayton has motivated me to walk into the same exploration that my educators did; an exploration which reinvigorated Dayton School District.

In early January, principal Jami Fluke and I collaborated to kickstart the Dayton Blog Squad. We gathered several Dayton High School students who were interested in blogging and quickly organized a team liftoff meeting. At the meeting, we established the purpose of creating a club of bloggers for Dayton. We told them our vision to publish stories from the school, in order to promote interaction between the school district, community, and industry. The message was that we needed more people to continue telling Dayton’s ongoing story and we wanted those stories to come from none other than Dayton’s students.

At this meeting, we introduced our communication resources and club dynamic. Then we let the students pick their own story topics. Many of their topics were personal narratives that explored an important piece of the high school from their own experiences. After they locked down their topic, they went through a process of interviewing themselves. Then they began to write their first articles for the school blog. Practicing these steps gave them an inside look into the real blogging process that we would be learning and using as a team, following that day.

Since then, we have met together as a group and in one-on-ones, interviewed each other, written with the help of one another, and stepped out of our comfort zones. And despite the fact that all of us are writing different stories at different paces, we have done it all as a team.

The Dayton Blog Squad operates in iterative learning cycles of defining, doing and reflecting. We have made mistakes and learned from them. We have also achieved many victories, big and small. Likewise, our club dynamic has morphed and changed over time, and we are becoming a stronger team in the process.

Stories bring people together — both writing them and sharing them to the world. As the Dayton Blog Squad continues to evolve and grow, we will continue to teach each other. The beauty of the process is that we are learning as we go. Moving forward, we will continue to create valuable educational experiences as a team, that will open new doors of opportunity for all of us.

Bevin Schrag Administrator

Bevin Schrag is a writer for Innovate Oregon. While working in social media and marketing at OnlineNW, she is currently studying the arts at Chemeketa Community College, to later become a media designer.