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Wynter Foley

Interview by Heather Staggs.

Audio Transcription

Heather Staggs  0:07  

All right. Hi. I am Heather Staggs, and I'm going to be recording this for a podcast interview. For advanced multimedia record reporting. Is that okay? Yes. Okay. Can you introduce yourself and just let us know who you are.


Wynter Foley  0:25  

My name is Wynter Foley, and I'm from Memphis, Tennessee. I graduated from Central High School in 2007. And I was a member of Teen Appeal. For 40 years.


Heather Staggs  0:40  

And what was your role at the Teen Appeal?


Wynter Foley  0:44  

I will say student reporter, student journalist.


Heather Staggs  0:49  

And what years did you work for the Teen Appeal? I know you said you did at all years of high school, but what years was that?


Wynter Foley  0:56  

I'm sure I did it all years of high school. So from 2003 to 2007.


Heather Staggs  1:05  

And can you tell me a little bit about your time before you began working at the Teen Appeal any early childhood memories or things that kind of got you interested in joining the Teen Appeal?


Wynter Foley  1:17  

I learned about Teen Appeal through my middle school guidance counselor. So as I was transitioning from John P frame in eighth grade to central at ninth grade, I, at the time, thought I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write novels. So my guidance counselor told me about an opportunity just enhanced, like my writing skills. And so that's how I found out about the Teen Appeal. And that's why I was interested because I wanted to be a writer.


Heather Staggs  1:49  

And can you tell me about the process for getting selected for the Teen Appeal any, like, materials you had to send in or an interview process or anything that you had to do to be selected?


Wynter Foley  2:01  

Um, I do remember that it was definitely an application process. And there was a component of like submitting a writing sample. And I remember that vividly. Just because I like agonize so bad over what to submit. So definitely a writing sample an application process. I don't remember an interview process, but it may have been.


Heather Staggs  2:28  

And how did you find out that you've been selected for the Teen Appeal?


Wynter Foley  2:33  

You know, I would like to say like, I may have found out through email, but I don't think it was that way, like back in those days. So I'm almost positive, we either get like a phone call or a letter in the mail. Letting us know,


Heather Staggs  2:48  

how did you feel when you found out you had been selected?


Wynter Foley  2:51  

Um, it was exciting. It was, you know, you never really know what you're stepping into. So I definitely remember there being like some nervousness. And it's, it's an organization that's independent of like your school. So you're not doing this with like classmates, and people who know. So definitely some nervousness, but a whole lot of excitement just because, you know, if you want to be a writer and having an opportunity to write, it's exciting,


Heather Staggs  3:20  

and what were you most excited for going into the process or going into the experience of working for the Teen Appeal.


Wynter Foley  3:28  

Um, I think I was most excited about from my understanding at the time was that you know, it's a student ran a newspaper that will be distributed across like Memphis City Schools once or twice a month. And so just the opportunity for kids in schools like all over Memphis to read my writing or to read your stories, so it just, you know, your writing gets seen by a bigger audience.


Heather Staggs  3:58  

And what was it like to meet other students, staff members that were part of the Teen Appeal?


Wynter Foley  4:04  

It was fun. I think. We all came from different schools, we all had different backgrounds. We were all different races, religions, we were a diverse bunch. So it was definitely cool especially to have that exposure to different people you know, as a 14 year old kid, straight into high school. And you know, a lot of those kids from Teen Appeal are still my good friends best friends to this day, so it was definitely life changing.


Heather Staggs  4:39  

So did you hang out with other students from the team you feel like outside of the newspaper or outside of your weekly meetings?


Wynter Foley  4:46  

Um, yes, we definitely hung out. Birthday parties, movies, skating. We used to go to like football games at each other schools. We do You know, we definitely made an effort to hang out outside of Teen Appeal. They become like your real friends that you just don't see in the attainability studio, but you see outside of work. So it was, you know, we I saw them often I still see them often.


Heather Staggs  5:18  

And during your time at Teen Appeal, did you ever recruit other students from your school to join the staff or have a hand and kind of recruiting other people to join?


Wynter Foley  5:30  

Yes, I think when I started, I'm almost sure I was the only as a freshman, I was the only person from Central on the technical staff. And by the time I was a senior, I think we probably had like five or six kids from Central on the staff. So definitely, I think just kids from my school seeing my byline with my name, and my school made them more interested in so it was definitely, hey, yeah, you can definitely come join the Teen Appeal. And so we definitely pay it played a role and recruiting and expanding the staff as the years went by.


Heather Staggs  6:12  

And by the time you were a junior or senior in high school, did you ever mentor other staff members on the Teen Appeal or have a hand and kind of like guiding them into what they were what they should be doing?


Wynter Foley  6:24  

Um, absolutely, I think that after a couple years, you know, you definitely learn the ins and outs. And you you take an official and unofficial role as as a mentor, especially if it's someone just particularly interested in like the same subject that you're interested in. You know, one of my good friends love to write about sports. And then I just remember him taking this other young kid under his wing who love to write about sports. And so it was maybe like our first exposure to mentorship, but we did. Especially by the time you became a senior, you wrote a lot, but you definitely stepped into a role of like editing, assignment editing and things like that. So as you become more of a veteran, you do step into a mentorship role.


Heather Staggs  7:19  

What kind of training did you receive at the Teen Appeal, especially when you were first starting out as a freshman or, you know, as a new a new member of the Teen Appeal, what was kind of the process for training and getting you prepared to take on this role of getting a newspaper, ready for distribution?


Wynter Foley  7:36  

Um, I do remember there's like an intensive like summer, maybe a month or two long like summer boot camp process that we went through. We had a lot of live seminars, classes with journalists from the University of Memphis, professors from University of Memphis, journalists from the Commercial Appeal. They basically taught us you know, how to write how to report what questions to ask, how to format, you know, stories. Um, so we definitely got a lot of, like training from professors, current journalists, students and things like that. We attended, or we sat in some summer classes, like college classes at the University of Memphis and the journalist department. So we we definitely, we learned a lot in those short amount of time.


Heather Staggs  8:35  

And what was a typical week like working for you at the Teen Appeal? You know, what, what kind of things did y'all do? What staff members did y'all have, that kind of guided you on in your experience at the Teen Appeal?


Wynter Foley  8:50  

So we did have like a Teen Appeal office and a like, pretty cool computer lab on campus and the journalism building at the University of Memphis. And so I think we have like weekly or maybe once or twice, twice a week, like whole staff meetings. And then if you're working on something, you know, in particular, you could always come by the office or the computer lab was kind of always open as long as you know, an adult was there or even, maybe not as long as the journalism building was open. But I think a typical week just consisted of, you know, in person meetings, getting our assignments for the newspaper that was coming up that month. Going over deadlines, editing them. If we were interviewing someone, and you know, the best place was to interview was on campus in the journalism building. We would have the interviews there. So it was definitely a lot of face time. On campus. In the journalism building in the computer lab, entertain appeal often So,


Heather Staggs  10:01  

You've kind of answered this question a little bit, but like, what all went into putting the newspaper together? How did everybody have to work together to get that done and what different, like aspects of journalism were involved.


Wynter Foley  10:13  

Um, we were assigned stories depending on like, what major events are going on around the city or in the schools. Or if you had something in particular that you wanted to write about a report on, you would just present it to Dianne, and I think her name was Tara, the other advisor. So we would go over everything from like, laying out the newspaper, how many articles are going to be in the newspaper, photos, media, the font, word count, editing and everything. So we saw the whole process from the beginning to the end.


Heather Staggs  10:59  

And how, what was the process of being assigned stories? Was it something that they assigned you? Or did you kind of bring up what you wanted to work on?


Wynter Foley  11:07  

You could definitely bring up what you wanted to work on. And I think maybe they have a few stories that are just stories that needed to be reported, you can volunteer for them. I mean, because if I remember correctly, this is an arbitrary number, but say there's like 30 kids on staff, you know, there's only like 15 articles in the in the paper. So everyone doesn't necessarily have an article published every paper. And so it was kind of not a competition, but it definitely was an encouragement to, you know, do your best because you want it your, your your work to be published. And


Heather Staggs  11:47  

Was there ever a time that where you were told you couldn't write a story or you received any pushback from the, from the advisors or coordinators at Teen Appeal?


Wynter Foley  11:56  

I'm not that none that I recall. Or remember, I'm sure that, again, being teenagers, or being wavy our imagination was like bigger than than what should have been written, but I don't remember. Solid pushback, definite, definite nose or anything like that, or I just didn't experience it at my time from the advisors.


Heather Staggs  12:22  

And when you finish a story, who edited that story, and how much feedback did they give you? And how did they give you that feedback.


Wynter Foley  12:31  

Um, the story was edited by our advisors. And again, this was like back in the day where we type up our stories, you print it out, you'd hand it in, and they'll take like a red pen and just mark up your your paper and send it back. But it also minus like grammatical errors or things like that, the conversations with our advisors about like, maybe you should lead with this, or maybe these are the questions you should ask, but there's other follow up questions you should ask. So definitely always receive unbiased, constructive criticism. And just opinions, ways to make our stories better.


Heather Staggs  13:15  

And can you tell me about any of the most memorable stories or any stories you remember writing at the Teen Appeal that kind of had an impact on you?


Wynter Foley  13:25  

Um, I do remember interviewing Terry. I remember interviewing Terry McMillan at a bookstore in Memphis. Terry McMillan is a an Arthur, she writes adult books. And I remember she was there for like a book signing. And I was there with my mom. And I asked her, How does she feel about kids reading her novels? And she was like, it's inappropriate. And so I definitely, I remember writing a story about her. And she was kind of, you know, like, maybe the first and my celebrity I've ever like, interviewed. So I do remember that being memorable.


Heather Staggs  14:12  

Do you remember any other memorable stories that took place at your time at Teen Appeal, whether you wrote them or not any other, you know, stories that kind of had an impact during that time?


Wynter Foley  14:26  

I'm not sure how impactful they were. But I definitely remember maybe one of my favorite parts of the Teen Appeal was like, a fashion thing they had. So we will take pictures of kids from like our different high schools and kind of highlight them there. So I thought it was pretty cool. It's kind of like a fashion editorial in the newspaper, and when you look back on it, like five or 10 years later, just like this was so horrible, but I do chuckle and laugh about that. So I do think It's nice to have that archive.


Heather Staggs  15:03  

And do you remember any challenges that you faced while you were at the Teen Appeal? Anything that you would consider a challenge? Looking back on it?


Wynter Foley  15:14  

Um, I think maybe at the time, it didn't seem like a challenge. And maybe it wasn't a challenge. But I do kind of think about like, at the time we weren't, we were kids. We were, you know, 15, 16,17 years old. Literally publishing a whole newspaper. And so, sometimes I just wonder, like, how did we get it done? But I think that's just good credit. So like, our advisors, our parents and our mentors and things like that. But I think the challenges exist with most newspapers, even a student read led newspaper in high school, you know, you have to meet deadlines. You have to back check things have to be accurate. So um, you know, the normal challenges.


Heather Staggs  16:01  

And did you end up studying journalism in college?


Wynter Foley  16:06  

I did not. I was a neuroscience major in college. So it by the YouTube.


Heather Staggs  16:17  

Have you ever worked in the journalism industry? Since graduating?


Wynter Foley  16:23  

When I was in college, I worked on the newspaper briefly in college, but not as a professional like career.


Heather Staggs  16:32  

And what is your career now?


Wynter Foley  16:35  

I work in health care for Cigna Health Care. So I work in like health care management?


Heather Staggs  16:43  

And do you think that the team if you'll had any impact on the skills that you need to use in your career or going forward any skills that you've even applied to your life in general? Oh, absolutely.


Wynter Foley  16:56  

I think that there's transferable skills from Teen Appeal to daily life to work. You know, a lot of us do work on deadlines. And I think that's kind of the biggest thing. We work on deadlines, we learn how to manage our time we learn how to manage our work, we pin our writing skills are still important. Today, a lot of my work consists of, you know, writing opinions and recommendations. And, you know, I think those core writing skills come from early days of, of the Teen Appeal, just making sure your facts are correct. Make sure you're presenting the correct information. So, you know, I do think some of those skills have been absolutely transferable.


Heather Staggs  17:44  

And what do you think the biggest influence that the Teen Appeal had on your life looking back and then going, you know, through high school and college and your career, what do you think the biggest influence from the Teen Appeal has been?


Wynter Foley  17:58  

Um, I think that, for me, just the friends I made the, the friends I made as a 14 year old kid at Teen Appeal are still some of my best friends to this day, and I think it was a wonderful, you know, place to meet friends and I'm very grateful for the Teen Appeal for like putting those people in my life.


Heather Staggs  18:26  

And looking back, is there anything that you wish that could have been different during your time at the Teen Appeal or going through it you had wished had been changed in any way?


Wynter Foley  18:37  

Um, I think that at the time when you have a whole lot of kids who want to be writers or journalists, I think that maybe having the newspaper published more often than once a month or I think it may have been every two weeks at one point had been cut down to once a month because of funding. But I just think, you know, the more opportunity we have to you know, showcase our writing to showcase our talents to showcase our opinions. It would have been cool for us


Heather Staggs  19:11  

And what do you think that students are missing out on by not having something like the Teen Appeal to utilize and be a part of in nowadays?


Wynter Foley  19:22  

Like I say I'm so sad that it doesn't exist anymore and maybe we got we can bring it back but I do think you know, we miss out kids miss out on you know, an early especially if you know, you want to be a journalist or maybe if you don't know but I do think you miss out on just an early opportunity to you know, learn about a career path that we may not have visibility to later. I think that we miss out on the opportunity just for like organized. Just just an organization. where we can be organized, where you can meet different students where you can be mentored and become a mentor. I think it's kids miss out on a whole lot, even jazz. The Teen Appeals located on campus at the University of Memphis. So even just that exposure to being on a college campus, makes you realize like, this is cool. I'm definitely going to college. And so I think there's just a lot you miss out on.


Heather Staggs  20:30  

Do you think that the experience of the Teen Appeal would be still relevant to students today, especially with print journalism not being quite as active as it was in those days? Do you think there's still relevancy to the program?


Wynter Foley  20:45  

Oh, absolutely. And I'm sure that just you know, like, print journalism has dwindled down the Teen Appeal can adapt to, you know, online journalism, podcasting, you know, social media. And so I don't think it has to become an obsolete thing I'm sure it's able to adapt with with the times. And


Heather Staggs  21:09  

So kind of talking a little bit about that, do you think that it's something that should be brought back or be looked at to be brought back?


Wynter Foley  21:18  

I wholeheartedly believe so. I would love to see the Teen Appeal come back.


Heather Staggs  21:22  

What do you think the Teen Appeals legacy was on the city of Memphis? Or did you think it haven't had an overarching legacy that it left on the city?


Wynter Foley  21:34  

I think that, um, you know, sometimes adults, leadership, parents, teachers, anyone. Always it it's an it's a medium for everyone to kind of have insight to a student's perspective, is it allows us or students back in high school to be heard to be seen to its IT services. It serves this purpose as a newspaper, but just coming from a perspective of kids of high school kids. And I do find that to be helpful. I do think I can influence leadership. I do think that's important.


Heather Staggs  22:24  

All right. Well, I think that's all the questions I have. But thank you so much for taking time to talk to me and kind of let me know about your experience with the Teen Appeal.


Wynter Foley  22:34  

Thank you. Thank you, were you able to reach out to like other kids from the Teen Appeal? Or do you need other kids?


Heather Staggs  22:41  

Yeah, well, we, you know, tried to reach out to as many people as we could either coordinator, past coordinators or staff members, and then, you know, other students that were involved as well. So if you have any names of people that you know, you were close to, or that might be interested in talking about it. That would be great, too.


Wynter Foley  23:01  

Okay. Yeah, I can definitely send you a couple of them. I'm not sure if you've talked to them yet or not. But yeah, I can send you a few friends.


Heather Staggs  23:12  

Well, thank you so much.


Wynter Foley  23:14  

Thank you, you have a good day. You too. Bye. Bye.

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