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The American pioneer John Chapman (1775-1847) also known as Johnny Appleseed once said, "The task of education is to bring the young and the great together." What I believe Mr. Chapman was saying is when young people study the lives and careers of great men and women, they will be inspired to achieve greatness in their own lives. Young people need good role models and this is true for the rest of us as well. As a businessman who has worked with educators for many years, I have found that most young people do indeed want to become great at something during their life time.

While this will work out for a few students, the real challenge for the vast majority is how to use or apply what they have learned out in the world, especially in the market place. This has always been a real concern of mine, but along this line, just recently I have had the opportunity to get involved with something that I really feel good about. In our community, as well as hundreds of others throughout the country, there is a structured program called NEWSPAPER IN EDUCATION. This is a joint effort between the local newspaper, the schools, the business community and a number of individuals who care about young people and their future.

This past year I had the privilege of becoming a sponsor for an NIE teacher in one of our local elementary schools. This means I am personally paying for a class set of 25 papers each week throughout the school year. When I expressed an interest to my friends at the paper I never dreamed that I would be the sponsor for Mary Jones' 4th grade class at Ida Burns School. You see, Mary Jones was recently selected as The Arkansas Newspaper Foundation "Teacher Of The Year" for the newspapers in education program. This is why I said earlier that it was quality instruction, but all of the other NIE teachers in our community are doing a great job as well.

A few weeks ago I got a call from Mrs. Jones and she invited me to come and speak to her class. I spent over an hour with her students and they were bright, well mannered and not only participated but they had a ton of questions for me. It was a rewarding time and before I left, they presented me with a personal letter from each student thanking me for providing the newspapers and I was also given an album of photos showing various students working with newspapers during their instruction time.

I'm sure you know that community newspapers cut across all areas of society and they can be used to teach a multitude of practical and useful things to students. Every teacher who participates in NIE develops his or her own unique ways to use the papers in the classroom. They can be used to teach Science, Math, Social Studies, Health, History, and all phases of Consumer-Related topics that will help them for the rest of their days. Something else that's exciting to me is that, working with teachers in their area, The Mobile Press Register in Mobile, Alabama has developed a comprehensive list of ways to use the newspaper in the classroom. I have been given permission to share these and if you will send me a self-addressed stamped envelope, I will be happy to send them to you free of charge.

As you read this column, if you are a business person or an individual who would like to make a difference in the lives of some precious young people, you may wish to become an NIE sponsor. If you will call your local paper or your elementary school principal, I'm sure, even if they don't have an official NIE program, you will find a very positive response. The cost is very reasonable and you will be making an investment in the future...yours and theirs. (Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72032.)

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