After spending a summer moving with his family across the country from Waterford, Michigan, Palo Alto High School journalism teacher Brian Wilson came to teach at what he calls the “Mecca of journalism.” Currently pursuing his 19th year of teaching, Wilson teaches Beginning Journalism and advises three of Paly’s publications: Viking, C-Magazine and Madrono (the yearbook). Verde sat down with Wilson to find out more about the newest addition to the journalism staff.
Verde: What were your first impressions of Paly and the journalism program?
Wilson: The journalism program at Paly is amazing. It’s like a Mecca of journalism. It’s been cool to see the way journalism students here are able to operate and have passion for what they’re doing. Everything runs like clockwork. I don’t know if students who go here necessarily recognize how different it is going to school here than it would be anywhere else in the country just in terms of the opportunities that are afforded and the freedom that students have to pursue the things that they want to do. Paly is not like other schools. I tell people back home that I love how if you walk through the Quad, you see students practicing lines for a play or playing their guitar and reciting poetry or someone juggling.
V: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
W: I’m a two-time cancer survivor. Overcoming that and feeling like I’m still the same person I was before — still wanting to be inspiring in the classroom and still wanting to make connections to the students is amazing. The last five years have been pretty challenging for me personally, but feeling like I can still be a presence in the classroom is very gratifying.
V: What do you plan to do with yearbook?
W: The yearbook is my bread and butter. I have a brand new staff except for one person who was on staff last year, so it’s a different situation [than the other publications]. It’s kind of cool to be part of building the publicaton and pushing it in a different direction. The yearbook itself will just look and feel different.
V: Why did you decide to be a teacher?
W: I was a journalism major in college. Part way through, I decided that I was going to take an education class over the summer. I realized that teaching was something I could potentially do as a career. I was nervous about journalism and trying to actually make a living as a journalist. In high school, I thought ‘I’m going to be a reporter and win the Pulitzer Prize,’ and that was the dream. I didn’t really enjoy high school much so it’s sort of ironic that I chose a career that would put me in high school for the rest of my life. There was also a part of me that really wanted to give students like me an opportunity to enjoy high school in a way that I didn’t.