Editor’s note: The two photos that accompany this piece were taken prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Hence the lack of masks.
I never know how to start these “bio” or “intro” things. As journalists we can spend years practicing how to kick off a story, but not a single one of those stories will be about ourselves. To best serve you, though, I should let you know who I am, so bear with me — this story’s mine.
My name is T. Michael Boddie (for the curious, the T is for Timothy). I’m a reporter for Boardhawk today because I’m a journalist who, throughout his life, has witnessed the direct effects issues and policy regarding education have on a community.
I’m a Virginia native, raised in Georgia, educated at the University of South Carolina and the University of Denver. In other words, it didn’t take a village, it took several villages. But those were important years, and is that not in itself a key reason why we invest our care in education?
When I was in high school I loved to play the drums — not just the drums, but any percussive instrument — and I wasn’t too bad at them, either. But when I wanted to audition for the all-state band, I didn’t have the money for a xylophone, which I needed to practice on at home if I was going to make the cut. My teacher loaded a xylophone from the school into his truck, and he brought it to my house so I could practice on it for as long as I needed to.
I’m not a musician today. That’s not the point of the story. The point is that people in charge of my education did all that they could to nurture my talent, and what I clearly enjoyed studying, regardless of my social or economic status. People deserve the confidence that not just teachers, but districts and other community leaders are doing all they can to nurture students’ abilities and talents through education.
Must we have teachers hauling musical instruments around town for students’ personal use? No. But if students all take math classes, for example, it is only fair to ask the district who can and can’t afford calculators.
My parents insisted on the importance of education for as long as I can remember. My mother has been a public high school counselor for my entire life. My father, a minister, taught college English courses. Fun fact: I was a substitute teacher throughout college (someone has to, right?)
As a counselor, my mother helps students choose a path to their future. If she can be held accountable for this, so can community leaders. I feel it’s important to keep a watchful eye on how school districts are helping the community they serve choose a path to the future.
Full disclosure: I’m not an education reporter. “Education reporter” has never been my title. However, in my past reporting for local newspapers in South Carolina — between stories on every other local issue from tobacco laws to giant shrimp — I’ve covered issues and policy regarding education. In my role with Boardhawk, I intend to stay focused on holding accountable those in power over education in Denver communities for the following reasons:
If the leadership changes at a school in your community, you deserve to know.
If the teachers in your community strike for a more livable wage, you deserve to know.
If people of color are disproportionately affected by an educational issue in your community, you deserve to know.
And that’s me. Your new kid in school. But before I sign off, some personal bits about me (It’s only right — I’d consider us friends now, wouldn’t you? I mean, I told you those weird stories about my high school band teacher and the giant shrimp): I’m a die-hard South Carolina Gamecocks fan, and my favorite foods are the breakfast ones. I enjoy soccer, jazz and hip-hop music, and I’m working on breaking the habit of starting a new book without finishing the previous one.
I hope you find that in the end, the stories we tell matter. I’m happy to help make that happen.