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New News editor ... schweh ... was inspired by educators and her parents

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The teachers who shaped me

By Shelley Spillman

As early as elementary school, I can recall having a passion for writing. I remember using a notebook to meticulously record classmates’ comments and behaviors at lunchtime. I had an innate curiosity about everything. It’s safe to say that I was destined to have a career as a reporter.

I worked toward my dream of becoming a writer when I obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

It is impossible for me to mention who I am today without talking about my amazing parents who pushed me to succeed, a grade school tutor named Margaret Crisp, who never accepted the words “I can’t,” and my mentor, Joe Boyce, a former senior editor for the Wall Street Journal.

The late Crisp was my math tutor from junior high through high school. She taught me to be the best I can be. When I would dare to utter the words “I can’t do this,” she kept me at her house until my attitude improved. On one occasion, I refused to complete my math problems because I said I was incapable of understanding it. She kept me at her house until 10 p.m. that night and, magically, I was able to figure out the algebra concepts that eluded me prior. Crisp always won in a battle of willpower. I learned to love that about her.

She dedicated her life to education because she cared so much. She died 2 years ago. The church where her service was held was packed with standing room only, full of “her kids” that she taught and the many lives she impacted.

My path crossed with Boyce at IUPUI where he worked an adjunct professor in the School of Journalism. He began his career in 1966 as the first African-American reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He went on to become the deputy chief for Time’s New York Bureau and a senior editor for the Wall Street Journal. Did I mention he’s also an accomplished jazz musician?

Boyce always has a way of making me think and he has the best stories to share from his many years of journalism. Boyce is the most accomplished person I’ve ever met and also the most humble. He will forever remain my journalistic compass of morality and ethics.

The appreciation of these great teachers in my life made me interested in education reporting. My first education reporter job was at the Frankfort Times in Frankfort, Ind. Later, I also became the temporary editor.

From there, I became the education and business reporter for the Glasgow Daily Times in Glasgow, Ky.

My husband accepted a job offer in Lexington and we relocated to the area.

I am very excited to be the news editor for The Anderson News. I can’t wait to share the stories of people in Anderson County.