I’ve been stewing…

I’ve been stewing…

So a while back I mentioned that I would be writing an article for our Junior League of Tampa Magazine. I haven’t said anything about it since, but the article actually came out in November.

Here’s my thing: besides having had a poem published in 2003 this is my first “publication” in a magazine. I know it’s not a huge magazine, but it was a really big deal to me and I was super excited to have this opportunity.

Here’s my problem: JL totally screwed up my article. Ok, I’m not some diva who thinks my writing is spectacular. I know that articles get edited and so on. But, I don’t like the way my article was edited and then handled.

What happened: I turned in an article about Academy Prep here in Tampa- a project the Junior League is completing this year. I heard nothing back except “It’s Awesome!” about it so I figured it was perfect (shouldn’t they have sent it back to me for corrections or to make changes if there were things they didn’t like in it?). Then, I get the magazine in November only find out that they changed the title, the first couple of paragraphs and the last paragraph. It also has a grammatical error in it that I didn’t do because like I said, the first couple of paragraph’s I technically didn’t write.

My feelings: I’m pissed! Seriously, pissed! That has my name on it! I was going to frame it and put it on my walls and start a portfolio and send a copy to my mom and mother-in-law and instead I’m just freaking angry about it!

You can find the JL version here on page 20.

This is my original version:

Academy Prep: A Modern Day Underground Railroad
By Suzanne West Tow

No one says it better than Bob Samuels, a retired banking executive and Academy Prep Donor, when he said, “I look at Academy Prep as the modern day Underground Railroad. Once you pass through it, you are on the road to real freedom.”

After all, Academy Prep is more than just a school. Where else will you find 10-14 year olds who are required to start their school day at 7:10 am for breakfast and a brief non-denominational convocation and end with a study hall that lasts until 6:00 pm? At Academy Prep, 5th-8th graders don’t just go to school. Students here attend up to 11 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 11 months of the year. At Academy Prep students don’t just take the traditional academic classes of a “regular” school. They are part of an enrichment program that provides social guidance, character education, and a required daily study hall. And, the results are staggering.

Did you know 97% of the graduates from Academy Prep are either still in high school, college, or starting their own careers? By middle school graduation, most of the students are reaching academic levels in English and Math ranging from 10th to12th grade equivalency. These students potentially earn scholarships to some of the best high schools and colleges in Tampa Bay and across the country. In a neighborhood where 30 to 50% of the adults have high school degrees, the results that Academy Prep offers its students are life changing.

Academy Prep Center for Education has been in operation since 1997 starting with a school in south St. Petersburg that replicated itself in Ybor in 2003. It is a private educational center for students who are at or below poverty level. These students learn with their own gender in classes of 15 or fewer and receive 4 years of tuition-free college preparatory education. They are part of a rigorous academic curriculum that includes social skills training and community service activities. Do you still think that Academy Prep is just another school?

The Junior League of Tampa has had the honor of sponsoring a social skills program for the 6th graders at Academy Prep of Tampa since 2004. Our volunteers teach the students proper introductions, table etiquette, dressing for success and much more. They develop lesson plans, teach tutorials and provide workshops. The classes are held every Thursday after lunch during the fall; a total of 12 classes. At the end of the year, the students celebrate their newly learned social skills with our volunteers at a luncheon reception. But, the Junior League of Tampa is not the only organization to volunteer and support Academy Prep.

Thanks to the efforts of the Junior League of Tampa, Academy Prep now has a self-sustaining volunteer base. Many Tampa Bay corporations have selected Academy Prep as one of their charities of choice including, Bank of Tampa, Bealls, Gulf Management Systems, J.C. Newman Cigar Co., Ferman Motors, Foley & Lardner, The Lightening Foundation, Merrill Lynch, Raymond James and Verizon. Volunteers from all over the Tampa Bay area have given over 10,000 hours of service annually. The students’ families provide for a third of those volunteer hours. The Junior League’s mission of providing an educational program that offers cultural enrichment has been accomplished. Sadly, because of our success, it is now time for us to say good-bye to Academy Prep.

Unlike the English proverb, “All good things must come to an end,” the same will not be true when the Junior League of Tampa phases out the Academy Prep project next spring. In fact, Academy Prep’s new volunteer base will not be left empty-handed. The Junior League of Tampa has already purchased curriculum to pass on for the following years. Workshops are planned for early next year to provide training to the staff and volunteers.

The last 5 years working with Academy Prep has been an incredible journey and our committed members and volunteers have done an amazing job. Although it is time to say good-bye to Academy Prep, it will not be forgotten. After all, it is more than just another school; it’s a modern day underground railroad. And, the Junior League of Tampa helped pave that road to real freedom.

Maybe I am a Super Cocky Diva after all, but I think the JL screwed it…am I right or crazy???

One thought on “I’ve been stewing…

  1. I agree that they screwed it up. I would be pissed as well. If you are going to make changes to someone elses article you should at least have the decency to notify them and get permission for those changes. This is just another example of what's gone wrong with journalism today. I'm sorry they did this to you.


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