Newsela’s on Instagram: A Letter From CEO Matt Gross

To our valued educators,

For teachers, there is no greater pleasure than when our students make meaning of the things they’ve learned in their own lives and the lives of others.

A few weeks ago, we asked Newsela teachers to have students read news from their home state and write about it. We received dozens of student submissions. They reminded me and many of my colleagues at Newsela why we became teachers in the first place. Here are excerpts from just a few:

I had an experience as a two year old boy with an off-the-charts hurricane known as Hurricane Katrina. This caused me, my mom, and my one year old little brothers to move onto the Air Force base in Trenton, New Jersey, with nothing but the clothes on our back. My mom was hysterical because all of the power was out and my brother Pierre began to have a severe asthma attack. She took him outside in the night air praying that his breathing would go back to normal. Reading this article has made me very thankful that there weren’t any worse hurricanes like when this article states: “However, it wasn’t the worst storm that could have possibly hit New Orleans, Louisiana.”
Inspiration: “Study theorizes hurricanes unlike anything Earth has ever seen

A friend of mine, a girl with autism, has never been an outcast, despite her “disability” and she is well loved among many.These students will never be anything but accepted in our classrooms, clubs, and sport teams. They are family, not any different than any other student, living their lives as any other would.
Inspiration: “High school cheers on varsity squad member with Down syndrome

Both humans and bears are running out of water therefore running out of food, so that’s why we should share California’s amount of water supply. However when reading this article I learned that some people are killing off bears that have entered their towns searching for these things. These creatures deserve just as much of a fighting chance against this drought as we do. We are from California for goodness sake the bears represent us. If this continues to happen our California state symbol will have no meaning to us.
Inspiration: “California Town Overrun By Bears Descending Dry Mountain Seeking Food

Watsonville is not a very safe place. Most of the time, [police] just judge Latinos because the way they dress or how they look. Most of the time the cops take advantage because they know that most of the Latinos are here by a illegal way.
Inspiration: “Shootings of Latinos by police get less attention

As we enter 2016, I have a litany of hopes and dreams for our five million Newsela students. But one sits atop my list: I want our kids to take action. Read Newsela, find something that resonates, get inspired, get indignant, get energized — then do something about it.

Today, we’re launching @newsela on Instagram so your students can be inspired by images and stories of youth in action in their communities. Invite your students to follow @newsela, take action, and post pictures and descriptions of what they’ve done to make a difference. They may very well inspire others.

At Newsela, our mission is to unlock the written word for everyone. Forget self-driving cars and wearable technology. The written word remains humanity’s best invention and its most empowering one. Let 2016 be the year that students unlock the power of those words in their neighborhoods, churches, parks, streets and state houses. Students can’t vote, but they can act. Let’s make sure those seeking that coveted seat in the Oval Office hear the voices of our youth this time. Stay tuned.

Your colleague,

Matt Gross