After reading another article about how Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools fails to deliver, Michael Phillips, 45, had enough of the negative press about the school district that was educating his four children.
"Someone should be focusing on the positives," he recalls thinking.
At the same time, his children, Jordan, 16, Taylor and Brett, both 14, and Lexie, 12, were feeling apprehensive about switching schools because they didn't know anything about CMS schools other than their own.
"I wanted to show them what is happening at other schools and showcase all of the great things happening within CMS," said Phillips.
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Phillips, a graduate of East Mecklenburg High School who has lived in Charlotte since he was 7, was also at a crossroads in his career. Having helped run several businesses, including his family's manufacturing company, he was ready for a new venture.
With no journalism degree or experience but armed with knowledge of the publishing business he'd gained from a friend who publishes a magazine in Florida, Phillips decided to launch My School Rocks! magazine, a free, full-color monthly publication.
The magazine is "dedicated to covering education, entertainment, sports/fitness and community events for students, their parents and school faculty."
The first issue was printed in March 2004, and by July, Resa Goldberg, 43, who had contributed several articles to the magazine, took over as editor.
Goldberg, who has a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Georgia, has worked with several other publications, including a national business magazine that sold 500,000 copies per month. She also has two sons, Jake, 14, and Luke, 11, and appreciated the opportunity My School Rocks! provided to combine her journalism experience with her involvement in the schools.
Phillips and Goldberg developed several unique features for the magazine. Employing a handful of freelance writers (including this writer), they, as Phillips puts it, "try to educate the community about positive things happening in schools while at the same time providing a learning experience for the kids."
Each issue showcases three schools, as well as system-wide school events and developments that relate to the monthly theme.
Each cover story includes an interview conducted and written by the magazine's "Rockin' Reporters," CMS students who apply online.
The students research the cover subject, prepare questions, conduct the interview and then write about their experience for the cover story.
Previous cover stories have included interviews with baseball player Cal Ripken Jr., "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.
Each monthly issue also includes a History Fun section at the back, which looks at a day or event in history and provides information and related activities. There is also a restaurant review with articles related to the monthly theme.
The magazine has a monthly distribution of 60,000 and goes home with pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students in public, private and parochial schools throughout Charlotte. It also is available on racks at CMS middle schools and throughout Mecklenburg County. It is funded entirely by sponsors, with many advertisers seeking the audience of school-aged children and their parents.
As editor, Goldberg researches and develops ideas for each month's focus and content, oversees the freelance writers, assigns articles and writes the Editor's note, the History Fun section, the cover story and "whatever else is left." She also proofs the final copy and works with the illustrators and photographers.
"My favorite aspect of my job is coming up with a new issue," said Goldberg. "I have a totally blank slate in front of me, which is so exciting because anything is possible."
The fact that My School Rocks! has published its 63rd issue and has been going strong since its inception in 2004 proves that Goldberg is right: Anything is possible.