Niles High grad, former Niles Daily Star intern, publishes first book

Published 9:45 pm Wednesday, August 4, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - As an education reporter, Niles native Julie Blair saw a need to improve the relationships between public schools and the press.
To address this issue, the 1992 Niles High School graduate and former Niles Daily Star reporter has recently published her first book, "Building Bridges With the Press."
Just as the title indicates, the book centers on building an effective bridge of communication between schools and the press.
Blair thinks newspapers and schools should be partners that use each other to keep the public informed of what is going on in and around public schools.
She noted schools are often intimidated by the media, but said that should not be the case.
Blair thinks newspapers allow an avenue for schools to showcase the positive things that are happening to the public. And by developing a good relationship with the press, schools will be better suited to handle a negative situation, if one were to arise.
Education is a passionate subject for Blair.
She first got a taste of the education beat as a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1997. Blair decided it was something she would like to specialize in and moved on to become a staff writer for the national education publication, Education Week, where she still works today.
Public schools are also one of the few places in America where you have a chance to meet people of all "stripes," she said.
Blair knew what she wanted to do with her life since her early days at Ballard Elementary when she and a friend created their own publication called the J&J Newspaper.
Blair, the daughter of John and Marcia Blair, who now reside in Texas, emphasized the great educational experience she had in Niles.
One teacher she mentioned in particular was her ninth grade English teacher Patty Eycleshymer.
To this day, she still uses the brainstorming technique Eycleshymer taught her at Niles High School.
The now-retired Eycleshymer also has fond memories of Blair, who was in her ninth grade class more than 15 years ago.
After graduating from high school, Niles Daily Star editor Jan Griffey gave Blair the rare opportunity to gain some experience in her chosen field at a very young age.
After her summer at the Niles Daily Star, Blair enrolled at Hope College, where she studied communication and political science. She then went on to get a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University.
Blair and her husband Jim Riekse, who she met while working at Hope's school newspaper, had their first children on April 29 with twins Elizabeth and William. The family makes their home in Silver Spring, Md. She is currently on maternity leave until March and looks forward to returning to her career at Education Week.
For more information, please see the Education Week website,