By Hailey Perrin

Ready to teach at Mill Valley as the, broadcast journalism teacher Laurie Folsom holds a s’mores stuffed animal Thursday, Sept. 1. Folsom’s previous school gifted her the stuffed s’more upon her return, “I was on medical leave two years ago for most of the school year because I survived stage three colon cancer,” said Folsom.

New broadcast journalism teacher transitions from supervising print journalism

Laurie Folsom looks forward to the great relationships Mill Valley offers

Mill Valley News: Why did you want to get into education and teaching?

Folsom: Why did I get into teaching? I had some really great teachers in high school. One who was especially really great at hands-on learning and I really appreciated the experience I had in high school. 

MVN: What is your background? 

Folsom: I have a background teaching yearbook, newspaper, photography, broadcast and graphic design. What I’ve taught the longest is yearbook, newspaper and graphic design.

MVN: What did you do before you came to Mill Valley and how long were you there?

Folsom: I was most recently at Lawrence Freestate High School. I taught there for 16 years, and that’s where I was the print journalism advisor. Before that I taught for about a decade in Leavenworth so in total I’ve taught for 26 years now.

MVN: What are your first impressions of Mill Valley?

Folsom: Mill Valley has what I would call great relationships, but high expectations of students. And so sometimes the focus in schools is just on relationships, and others, it’s just on expectations. And people here have been very friendly and welcoming. At the same time, it was very apparent that we have high expectations of students and I like being in that environment.

MVN: What are some of your goals for Mill Valley?

Folsom: When it comes to the broadcast program, some of the goals we have is to develop a brand identity, and then work on our social media engagement. The world of broadcast is changing, just like the world of print journalism. And so making sure that we’re engaging our audience where it’s at. And the reality of were 14 to 22 year olds, it’s not in the nightly news. It’s not watching news on a cable station. And so how do we engage our viewers here at Mill Valley in a different way?

MVN: You mentioned brand identity? So what specifically are you talking about there?

Folsom: We are looking to develop a new logo. Make sure that across all of our platforms, whether it’s YouTube, Instagram, possibly starting on Tik Tok, for the broadcast, MVTV. When it comes to developing all of those things, the goal is to promote and engage more viewers.

MVN: What were you scared or worried about for this year?

Folsom: I think being in a new place is scary, no matter how old you are, how much experience you have, it’s just different. But I think being in my 26th year, I know that things end up working out. If you’ve got the skills, they work out, and I think I’m finally confident in my own skin that yeah, things will work out. 

MVN: Describe something on your desk or in your classroom that has special meaning to you.

Folsom: I’m gonna tell you a couple things. So my little, s’mores pillow. I was on medical leave two years ago for most of the school year because I survived stage three Colon cancer. And so when I came back to school, this was waiting for me. It was one of the things that kind of like my support system back at school, it was just a fun thing. There wasn’t a lot of fun that year for me. And so having just something cute, welcoming back. The light up there, the little moon light thing. So at my previous school, I had a whole wall of windows. And if you look around the classroom here, not so much. I told my best friend that taught right next to me at free state that the one thing I wasn’t excited about, was not having windows because I had taught a majority of my career, like, I only had windows for six years. And so imagine 20 years, no windows, finally getting windows. And so then, I don’t have Windows anymore. And so she got me that. I just think about my friends that I have in different places. When I see these things, and I can in turn on my light, therapy light is what it is. She was like, I’m going to make sure that you have sunlight or UV rays or whatever. I don’t even know what it’s for. 

MNV: If you’re comfortable sharing what was your biggest takeaway from your experience surviving cancer?

Folsom: For me, it was restructuring my life. And that is part of what led me here to Mill Valley. The importance of my family researching and making sure that I have time for the things that matter most to me. And teaching is only one of those things that my family is big on as well.

MVN: Can you tell me about those other activities?

Folsom: I have a 20 and a 22 year old, my husband and I live in Tonganoxie. And I have a hobby that my family doesn’t necessarily appreciate. It’s flipping furniture. The reason why they don’t appreciate it is because the 20 year old parked her car in our garage. Well, she did until I started flipping furniture and the garage filled up with my future projects. That’s one thing. Another is my sister and I have family dinners on the weekends for our kids. They’re all kind of in their early 20s. And we love that our kids want to come back home and have family dinners and stuff. They’ll start the group text and say so whose house are we eating out tonight? It’s probably just free food that they’re after. But that’s okay. We’re willing to feed them for their company.

MVN: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you? 

Folsom: I’ve just told you a whole heck of a lot. This may be the most I’ve ever talked about in an interview. I always consider myself a horrible person to interview because I teach kids how to interview and so I get so caught up in, what are they going to ask, what are you trying to anticipate? So no, you’ve done a great job. 

MVN: Are you the sponsors for any clubs that you would like to talk about?

Folsom: Not yet, but if anyone wants to start a nap club I would be down for that. It’s one of my hidden talents. I’m not recognized enough, I can sleep anywhere, planes, Trains, cars.

MVN: Well, thank you so much for sharing and I appreciate all the right information you gave me.

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