Blog: Our Reality Show

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  • Looking Back

    From 1996 to 2001, I was the public information officer/communications director for Rockingham County Schools, a 15,000-student district in North Carolina. After a 13-year career in newspapers (nine years as a reporter/desk editor and four as a managing editor), moving into communications was a huge step, but it could not have come at a better time.

    I started the job in October, having married Jill earlier in the year. The next month, we moved into our first house together. A month after that, Katharine was born, followed by Ben and Emma less than a year later.

    The new job provided a fantastic opportunity to witness the inner workings of a school district, one that had merged from four separate and distinct systems three years earlier. I was a one-person shop, handling media calls, writing press releases, and putting my design and photography skills to work.

    I always had taken pictures (usually of my family and occasionally for news stories), but it was during this period that I started carrying a camera with me everywhere. Capturing candid moments in the life of the school district taught me more than anything about the work of educators, the joys and frustrations of being a kid, and the challenges we all face in daily life.

    The sheer repetition of taking hundreds of photos a year helped improve my eye for composition as well as my technique in what proved to be the last gasp for film cameras. All of the pictures taken here, along with those in the accompanying Facebook album, were taken to a local processor, developed and printed, then scanned onto my Mac for later use.

    When I left the district, the hallways of the central office were decorated with my photographs, and there they remained for another two years before being taken down. I was fortunate that I was allowed to keep the negatives and the images that had been painstakingly scanned.

    Recently, going through my portfolio, I saw this collection of images and decided to post a Facebook album that looks back fondly at this period in our family's life and in my career.

    Today, the kids in these pictures are now in their 20s and 30s, and many probably have children of their own. But these images serve as a reminder that, while well-chosen words tell a story, pictures take you back to moments in time in ways that words never can.