Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Lily Ladiera

Lily Ladeira Masters in Communications, 2nd semesterGPA 3.89

My Experiences

The leadership position is not a new one for me. I’ve taught private and public high school English for six years. I’ve been the adviser for a literary magazine. I’ve been the head coach for middle school volleyball and high school volleyball teams. I am currently teaching two public speaking classes to undergraduates as a teaching assistant in the communications graduate program at FAU.

If there is one basic tenet I’ve learned in the leadership role it is the importance of recognizing the individuals with potential. Take for example, my experience as a middle school volleyball coach. I held tryouts and out of 35 girls I continually narrowed my selection to a team of 12 players. The girls I chose had two characteristics in common-they were teachable, and they had the right attitude. This initiation into the coaching world was pleasant, rewarding and successful, but only because I had made the right choices. We went on to the playoffs and placed second in our division. My high school coaching experience was a disaster in comparison. The difference was in part because I inherited the girls from the former coach. While this was fine in some respects at the Varsity level, the Junior Varsity girls that came out to tryouts were only a handful, thus I had to accept all of them. The Varsity girls were used to their former coach, and I admit I was inferior in terms of knowledge and experience, which led to a conflicted atmosphere, and hence an unproductive season. The Varsity team did not make the playoffs, and for Plantation High School that was certainly a setback. To further compound my difficulties that year we started the practice season late, we were disorganized, my assistant coach missed practices, came late quite regularly and then quit on me twice. I found that I was doing everything, and not very well either. What I should have done was recruit more aggressively, both to find a better assistant coach and more able players. The time would have been well spent, but I was new at the high school level, had limited time given my other two teaching preparations, and did not have the confidence to seek potential candidates to fill the positions I so desperately needed.

From my coaching experiences, I’ve learned not only the power of cooperative effort, but that team building is essential in the final analysis. Finding individuals who are dedicated, even if they are a select few, is far better than a room filled with individuals who can only give half an effort.

In terms of my experience as a creative writing teacher and literary magazine adviser, I found the high school level to be fraught with organizational difficulties that took far too much of my time. By the time I figured out that the administration would not under any circumstances provide the computers and software I needed to produce the magazine in the portable that I taught in, three months had passed. Their reasoning: the portables were not secure and therefore, expensive computers could not be put into my classroom. I cannot tell you how many meetings and discussions I had with various administrators and teachers to discover the answer to this dilemma. At the beginning of the year, I had asked for a “real classroom” with computers, but my request was continually denied by the administration. There were many moments when I wanted to quit; I certainly couldn’t see the solution. They simply did not care, and it was obvious that I was at the bottom in terms of their priority, but I knew that if I wanted to maintain my contract for the following year, I would need to produce a product.

I began searching for a classroom that I could use after school to produce the magazine. I found a teacher who had the computers and who was willing to allow us to use his room. At the same time, I had to fire the “staff” I had inherited from the former wrestling coach-creative writing teacher. Finding a new staff was difficult. Dedication, talent and potential were key, as were my abilities to connect with the teenagers in my classroom. Eventually, by the time I had an after-school classroom with computers to work on, I had found a core of five individuals who were willing to meet three days a week over a four-month period to work on the magazine. We had to learn PageMaker, and we had to design a 42-page magazine when none of us knew what we were doing. I have to say that despite our ignorance, our hard work paid off. We sent the magazine off to the printer in March, and managed to sell enough magazines to make a profit of $300, which was unnecessary, because all we had to do was to break even, according to PHS’s policy.

Before I begin to discuss my classroom experiences, I need to mention the experience that astounded me as an educator. Linda, a student who came to class, religiously, suddenly disappeared. I called her mother, but did not receive a response. One day, several weeks later, Linda’s mother appeared at my classroom doorstep and wanted to know about Linda’s welfare and whereabouts. I told her mother that I had no clue as to Linda’s situation. Linda’s mother informed me that she had moved out, and that was the last she had heard from her. I assured Linda’s mother that I would speak to Linda as soon as I saw her, and I did, the following week when suddenly, Linda showed up. All I said to Linda was that her mother was doing her best, that she loved her and wanted the best for her. Apparently that was enough for Linda to reunite with her mother, and to move back in with her. What astonished me was that not only did Linda reconcile with her mother as a result of my counseling, but also that Linda actually nominated me for the “Walmart teacher of the year award” and I actually won. It was kind of embarrassing, but by the same token, I’ve kept Linda’s letter that she wrote about the impact I’d had in her reunion with her mother

I’ve heard of these “teacher stories” and the difference they make for students, but I’d never experienced it. With Linda, I realized that the words I choose, and the power that I have in the leadership role does sometimes make a difference. She is the student I will always remember.

As for all of my other classroom experiences, all that I can really say is that the teaching conditions were often more distracting than anything else. Once I got past the air conditioning that never worked in debilitating weather, and once I got past the fact that there were 40 students times five that I taught over a seven hour day, nonstop, and that I was constantly held accountable for in terms of their individually erratic behavior, teaching became a breeze. Yes, that was a joke, and that was the problem. The way the Florida system of high school education is set up is destined for failure, if one actually tries to follow Tallahassee’s long list of requirements. But again, I found small successes in the classroom only when I focused on the entire class. If I could get the whole class engaged in Beowulf then my life was cake. It was not easy to reproduce and each class was different, but I did succeed in getting their attention for a full 50-minute period on many occasions. For me, that was a successful day.

The University Press

As for the University Press, this term one of the strengths has been the photo editor, Ralph Notaro. Without all the shots he was able to provide, the UP would have been forced to use inferior web photos. The change that the UP staff has been working towards, that of achieving a magazine format, is finally bearing fruit thanks to Notaro. His willingness to go to numerous events, to photograph individuals and to listen to the writers when they say they need a picture to go with their article has made the difference at the UP. Our Rock the Vote issue for example, would not have been possible without Ralph’s dedication.

One of our weaknesses I’d have to say is the design team. The problem at the moment is that they are not efficient, and rarely meet their own deadlines. Part of the problem has been a lack of organization; the other is an understanding of the chain of command. For example, the cover of the second hurricane issue we put out was changed, unbeknownst to the editor-in-chief. She had created the headline and the reefers, and along with the art director, had decided on the layout of the page. However, the senior designer came in afterwards and made changes without consulting either the art director or the editor-in-chief. Our disorganization has to do in part with our inability to work together as a team to get the product out, and to learn and to listen to each other.

I want the UP to work as a team. I have seen what we can do when we actually work together to get the issue out. It’s a beautiful thing. The first hurricane issue is an example of our potential. We all got together at Jazziz over the weekend, because the University Center had no air conditioning after the damage of hurricane Frances. The issue was a good one, because we did work together, in the same space, and found a way to put out the issue. It was tough, but I believe it created a cohesiveness we had hitherto not achieved. It did create a sense that we were all in it together. We need more such experiences of proximity and teamwork.

For the most part, we are disjointed and alienated from not only each other but from the product we produce. I believe that if the writers, the art team and the photographers begin to understand that each is integral to the process, that it is a process, and learn to work together then many of our issues will be resolved. It is as simple as being in the same room together when decisions are being made. Establishing office hours, deadlines, and creating templates in design would be some of the ways to increase our efficiency so that we can do the really important job. Here I refer to journalism. Our job is to inform our public, and many times we are too distracted by other organizational obstacles to focus on reporting.

I must say, however, that since our new art director has come on board, the organizational kinks are being worked out, and I will continue working with her to ensure a more efficient process continues to develop should I be selected as editor.

The bottom line is that our editors need to show up in the office. Being present, being informed, and being allowed the freedom to contribute at all levels is crucial to our cooperative effort, and in improving the quality of the paper.

The ultimate goal that I want to accomplish is improving the writing. We need workshops from the professionals, from the professors and others working in the field. In my year at the paper, there has only been one workshop, conducted by Professor Bailyn. We need more of these workshops, as I feel we are moving away from content and focusing too much on the image.

The effort I’ve made in the past to recruit, retain and train new staffers will continue. I talk to people, listen to them, and tell them what I do. Sometimes that is all it takes on campus to recruit individuals. This semester alone, I’ve recruited four individuals, and three of them have already substantially made a difference, not only in the energy of the UP but also in the product of the paper. I teach undergraduates so I will continue to advertise there. I will go to design and writing classes and market the UP on all of the campuses as necessary. Since it is a product that I feel has improved a great deal since last year, it has become an easier product to sell. It is about selling. My teaching experience goes back to that. When I get excited about what I do, and explain the benefits of my involvement at the UP they will come to check it out if nothing else. I’ve found that I’ve been good at convincing others to try a new experience. That is only the first step however. More important is acknowledging the contribution of newcomers, assisting them where they have difficulties and being there for them. It does require nurturing, and if I can’t do that personally, I will delegate to someone who can do it better than I. It requires passing on what I have learned in the past year at the UP. This is essential. We are all learning, and I wish to continue this process.

Addendum to Application for editor-in-chief

Life continued at the UP despite the postponement of the selection, and it was in fact a perfect opportunity for the new staff to see how Smitty and I operate. We’ve worked well together for the most part, and together we have contributed to a smoothly operating UP. The end result has been good stories and design. Smitty has surprised me in terms of his enthusiasm and dedication to the job.

That being said, I believe I am the best candidate for editor-in-chief. Simply, my experiences in management, in education, and in writing not just for the UP but for Forum Publishing qualify me for the position.

The staff have in the last few months deferred to me for guidance, for answers and solutions to their difficulties and I believe this is because they too see me as the best candidate for editor-in-chief.

While Smitty shows potential, at the moment he needs more newsroom seasoning before he can tackle the editor-in-chief’s position.

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