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Sandy Hook School Searching For Someone To Fill Journalism Teacher's 'Foot Prints'



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Sandy Hook School Searching For Someone To Fill Journalism Teacher’s ‘Foot Prints’

 By Emily Ashbolt

Lillian Bittman, a Board of Education member, received a journalism degree from the University of Kansas and her publication resume includes work for the Kansas City Star, as well as owing her own city magazine.

For the last 14 years, however, her success has not been in splashing bold headlines in major publications. Ms Bittman has instead been engaged at Sandy Hook Elementary School as the advisor of the school’s quarterly paper The Footprint Post and as the founder and head of Reed Intermediate School’s paper The Patriot Press for the last eight years. After shepherding more than 1,000 children through both these programs, teaching not just about reporting and editing, but also writing and life skills, Ms Bittman has decided to step down after the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

“I said that I would stay until this time from the very beginning,” Ms Bittman explained. Already active in many other school and town functions, Ms Bittman became head of the Footprint Post when her daughter, Laura, was in second grade. Laura is now a sophomore in college, and with Ms Bittman’s youngest son graduating from sixth grade in June 2012, all of Ms Bittman’s children will have passed through both programs.

“It’s time,” said Ms Bittman of her decision. “But it is definitely bittersweet.”

Leaving something that has been such a huge part of her life for the last 14 years has not been easy for this mother of three. “It’s a lot like when my daughter went off to college, actually,” Ms Bittman mused. “And I know I am going to miss the kids.”

Ms Bittman said that while she knew going into this position she loved journalism, she had no idea of the affection she would soon grow for her pupils. The other day, she turned on CNN news only to see one of her former students commenting as a reporter for Northwestern University.

“It was one of those moments,” she said, “where you just think back. I mean, other kids I had went into writing and journalism, but seeing him on the TV, on a major network like that…”

Ms Bittman is firm about her decision, however.

“You just get to a point where you think, it’s time to pursue other things,” she said.

The Footprint Post has been going strong for 27 years, but with Ms Bittman leaving, both it and the Patriot Press could be in jeopardy. Ms Bittman and both school systems are seeking replacements to fill the position. 

So what kind of person does Ms Bittman imagine taking her place?

“Someone with a background in journalism, or writing, or some kind of communications would be nice,” she said.

More than just some after-school club, Ms Bittman said she teaches her students journalism and writing techniques. Some prior knowledge in prose, as well as in layout, would be a huge plus, she says. She has a curriculum, and has poured countless hours into both publications editing, planning lessons, laying out, and helping her pupils. Taking over would not be a walk in the park.

Ideally, any potential candidates would then shadow Ms Bittman as she completed her final year as head come next school year. That way “they wouldn’t just get dumped on,” explained Ms Bittman.

Anyone interested in this position should contact Ms Bittman at 203-426-0197 or ldbitt@aol.com.

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