Students of Buckeye Valley High School Thursday morning broke with the traditional class schedule to Skype with CBS News host Steve Hartman. Hartman is host of the On the Road segment of the CBS Evening News.
Lisa Fraser, an English teacher at Buckeye Valley High School, said she is a fan of the segments and started showing Hartman’s stories every Monday in her class. She would then have students write their reaction to the story.
“We call it Motivational Monday,” she said. “It has been a great informal writing practice as well as a way to build rapport with my students.”
Fraser said the practice has continued through the year, but there have been a few times when the class did skip a segment.
“When I didn’t show a segment a few students in my one class would grumble,” she said. “This made me think that they liked watching these stories as much as I do.”
Fraser saw that Hartman had a page on social media she started following. She shared how she used Hartman’s segments as a writing assignment in her class on the page.
“I saw an invitation on the social media page for interested teachers to comment if they would like their class to Skype with Steve,” she said. “Somehow we were selected.”
Thursday morning the students sat staring at a projection screen waiting for the familiar ringing tone of Skype. At 10:15 a.m. Hartman appeared on the screen smiling and said hello.
Many of the students clutched at cards they had written questions on for Hartman. To ask their question they moved in close to a laptop so Hartman could hear them.
“Is it really pretty stressful traveling around all the time,” asked Gavin Sullivan. “Does it hinder your family life?”
Hartman said when he initially had gotten into journalism he had hoped to travel around the county.
“As you get older you have kids that is something that doesn’t appeal as much,” Hartman said. “That’s now not may favorite part.”
Hartman said he grew up in Toledo, was an Eagle Scout and went to Bowling Green State University. He said when people are contacted for interviews they are expecting some slick talking New Yorker.
“When in reality they don’t realize what you realize right now,” he told the students, “I’m not very professional and not very polished.”
Hartman said he picked journalism as a career because a teacher in high school who taught his journalism class made it fun. He said he’s stuck with it ever since.
“What I really like now is the people I meet along the way,” he said. “I can be in some God-forsaken place and it doesn’t matter to me very much if I’ve got a good story and I’m meeting really nice people.”
“Do you still keep in touch with any of the people you’ve met along the way,” asked Andrew Long.
Hartman said it’s hard to keep track of everyone, but there are a few he stays in touch with and some are his best friends.
He told a story about a man who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) that wanted to steal a doughnut truck.
“He decide not to do it,” Hartman said. “He got Krispy Kream Doughnuts to work with him to go around and give doughnuts away for free.”
“He remains one of my best friends,” Hartman said. “I’m blessed because I get to meet some of the great people in America.”
Hartman said he tries to find people who have the same sensibilities, integrity and good character.
Hartman asked, “Are all of you so smart or just the first two?”
“We’re all that smart,” the class responded.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.