September 5, 2017
Faces of Fauquier: New journalism teacher at FHS
Ben Sellers worked for newspapers in Charlottesville and Fredericksburg.
We need to teach students independence, critical thinking and pass along the responsibility for taking initiative and thinking outside the box.
In the ever-changing world of journalism, he will help prepare students for the future.
Fauquier High School’s new journalism teacher, Ben Sellers, oversees The Falconer student newspaper and teaches freshman English.
“My role is to advise, direct and offer input,” Mr. Sellers said.
About five students in his upper journalism classes will produce the monthly newspaper and maintain its website. This semester’s first print edition should get published in mid-September.
“A huge conundrum for journalism teachers is to a great extent, (the future of journalism is) unpredictable,” Mr. Sellers said. “We need to teach students independence, critical thinking and pass along the responsibility for taking initiative and thinking outside the box.”
He plans to instruct students on writing for digital news sites and using other technology to tell stories.
“It would be a disservice to teach them that print is the only reality,” Mr. Sellers said. “Print will survive in some shape or form, but alongside other platforms.
“I would love to have experts in the field come in and share their experiences and backgrounds.”
Mr. Sellers began his teaching career in 2010 after getting laid off from The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg during a staff reduction. He has taught at several schools in Northern Virginia and at a high school in Louisiana.
“Year one, my priority is getting to know people and build relationships with faculty and students,” Mr. Sellers said. “So much of this position is having a presence in the school.”
He also plans to grow the number of students involved in the class.
“It’s hard because there are a lot of other electives students are excited about.”
Old Town Warrenton
Teacher, journalism and freshman English, Fauquier High School, August to present; journalism and yearbook teacher, Lake Braddock Secondary School, 2016; English teacher, South Lafourche High School, La., 2015-16; English teacher, North Stafford High School, 2011-14; feature writer and youth editor, The Free Lance-Star, 2005-10; journalist, C-VILLE Weekly, 2003-05.
• Why do you do the job?
It really came about because I had competing interests or passions — on one hand with the storytelling of journalism and the lure of teaching with having a lasting impact on students. To be able to combine that is a real privilege.
Parents, Pam and Dave; twin brother, Jack.
Master’s degree, mass communications and multimedia, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2010; bachelor’s degree, English, University of Virginia, 2003; St. Anne’s-Belfield School, Charlottesville, 2003.
• Civic involvement
Active member of the University of Virginia’s Cavalier Daily alumni association.
• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
About three weeks.
• Why do you live here?
I’ve always enjoyed the beauty of the county. I’ve found myself here for point-to-point races or coming to downtown to Christmas shop. It’s a beautiful area and seems like a great community.
• How do you describe this county?
To me it’s sort of an ideal community in that it has history attached to it, bucolic landscape and horse culture you can’t find anywhere else.
• What would you change about Fauquier?
I’m not so sure I’ve found anything yet. I still want to immerse myself in the community.
• What do you do for fun?
Fantasy football and travel.
• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
My classroom at Fauquier High School, because it feels like home. It has a nice view and lots of natural light.
Wort Hog Brewery looks like a good place to go, but I haven’t been there yet.
• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
What’s interesting is it has managed to hold at bay the suburban creep. I hope the “powers that be” continue to make a conscious effort to preserve that.
• Favorite TV show?
“Game of Thrones”
• Favorite Movie?
“True Romance” and “Easy Rider.”
• Favorite book?
“On the Road” by Jack Kerouac.
• Favorite vacation spot?
London. The U.K. in general. It was the first trip I took abroad, a profound experience that gave me the travel bug. It has great literary spots.
• Favorite food?
Sushi and dim sum. I could probably eat that every day and never get tired of it.
• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
From my 96-year-old grandmother, Elizabeth Sellers, who lives in Georgia. She is wonderfully independent. She will say from time to time, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Basically whatever your situation, make the most of it and look for the next opportunity.
• Who’s your hero and why?
I’ve always been a fan of Bob Dylan and his music. The literary aspect and the way he made songwriting into an art form has always inspired me.
• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery?
Pay off student loans, return some of the good will I owe tremendously to my family, invest wisely and set aside some for a nice travel budget to Ireland, Italy or Portugal.
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