What inspired Cameron Fields to move from the newsroom to the classroom
JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:
Listening, staying flexible, meeting people where they are - these are all key skills that Cameron Fields used in his job as a reporter for cleveland.com, and they will all transfer well to his new job, where he may also need to help with tying shoes and spelling without spell check. Cameron Fields is heading from the newsroom to the classroom, and he joins us now. Welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
CAMERON FIELDS: Hey. Thank you so much for having me, Juana. Yeah, I really appreciate being here.
SUMMERS: Cameron, start at the beginning for us. How did you fall in love with journalism?
FIELDS: I started just kind of, like, as a teenager in high school. So I was like, I wanted to be a sportswriter, particularly wanted to write about the NBA. And I had my own NBA and college basketball blog in high school. It was called Hoops Heads. When the pandemic came, I was doing freelance sports journalism, and I had an opportunity to be a general assignment reporter full time at Cleveland.com. And after that, yeah, I was on the Cleveland's Promise team after being a GA reporter.
SUMMERS: I want to learn a little bit more about this project. What were the goals of Cleveland's Promise? What were you hoping to show or address?
FIELDS: The goal was to show the different challenges that, you know, in Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Cleveland school teachers and staff and students experience because Cleveland is one of the poorest big cities in the nation. And what I think really I was able to help out - you know, show was the commitment to social/emotional learning within Cleveland schools. And I think that that was one of the main tenets that Cleveland's Promise showed - was that, you know, teachers and staff were trying their best to help students not just academically but also develop socially and emotionally as well. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District, they have something called family support specialists, where different workers almost function like social workers, and they help out families in the community with different needs, whether it be helping them with a utility bill, helping them find food at, like, a food bank. So that wraparound support is so important in Cleveland, and that was something that the project helped shed light on as well.
SUMMERS: When you think back about your time working on the Cleveland's Promise project, were there particular students that inspired you to make the leap into teaching yourself?
FIELDS: You know, a lot of them inspired me, but I had a few that I really had some strong connections with - just every day, like, looked forward to working with them, really resilient children. You know, a lot of the students there may not have the highest self-esteem. And that's kind of why I want to, you know, be in education and be in this work because, you know, students need someone who is going to believe in them. Students need someone who's going to, you know, help them and nurture them. So that's really one of my main goals and main reasons for wanting to become a teacher. That's kind of personal, too, with me because back when I was a student, like, I was bullied a lot, and I didn't feel like I had, like, maybe a teacher that I could turn to. So I want to, you know, be able to be that person.
SUMMERS: Do you remember any specific teachers who made a difference in your life?
FIELDS: My sixth grade teacher, like, Mr. Summerville (ph). I mean, I didn't, you know, really recognize the value of it at the time, but he would call us by our last names, like a honorific. So he would say, like, Mr. So-and-so or Ms. So-and-so, like, for ourselves, like when he addressed us. And, you know, like when you're a kid, you don't really think about that too much, but, like, I see why he did it now as an adult. And I just think that he really tried to create, like, positive relationships with us. And he was also, you know, one of the only Black male teachers that I've had. So that was really awesome to see as well. And that's something I'm looking forward to - to being a Black male teacher and being a positive role model.
SUMMERS: Yeah, I want to talk about those demographics a bit. According to the National Teacher and Principal Survey data, Black male teachers make up fewer than 2% of teachers in this country. So I want to ask you - how big of a difference do you think it would make in school systems and in individual classrooms if there were more Black men teaching?
FIELDS: Yeah, there definitely would be a difference just because students need to see themselves, you know? Students need to have someone to look up to that looks like them. Having that positive role model, you know, helping guide them in any way that I can, that's something that I really am excited about and looking forward to.
SUMMERS: What does it mean for you to stay in Cleveland as a teacher?
FIELDS: It means a lot, yeah, 'cause I grew up around the area. I love the land, love the 216, and it's just awesome to be here and continue to, you know, make change, you know, in the city because, you know, we're kind of counted out at times, but we're really doing some great things in Cleveland. So it's really going to be a great time.
SUMMERS: Cameron Fields making the change from reporting to teaching. Thank you so much for joining us and good luck.
FIELDS: Thank you, Juana, so much for having me. It was awesome.
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