Magazine article Editor & Publisher

6-YEAR-OLD Signs as a Weekly Columnist

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

6-YEAR-OLD Signs as a Weekly Columnist

Article excerpt

The highly gifted student, who's already taking college courses, is joining a roster of adult creators at the Paradigm syndicate

Justin Chapman is writing a weekly column at the age of 6, making him possibly the youngest creator in syndication history. "But as sharp as Justin is, he's a regular kid," said Bryce Miller, president of ParadigmTSA ("The Syndicating Agency"), which will launch "The Justin Report" early next month.

Miller, a United Press International (UPI) veteran and two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, saw a New York Post article about the highly gifted boy in February. Then Miller e-mailed Justin, who's already taking college courses, to offer the column.

Justin's mother Elizabeth saw Miller's e-mail message, but didn't respond at first. For one thing, she was overwhelmed with hundreds of post-Post requests for Justin interviews and appearances. Elizabeth, trying to keep her son's life as normal and unexploited as possible, declined virtually all the requests.

But Paradigm's offer intrigued her, so she checked out the syndicate and talked to adults who know and work with Justin. They felt a column would be good for him.

"Justin was excited and liked the idea of writing his own column," recalled the single mother, who lives with her son in upstate New York. "Looking through his journals, I saw that Justin would have no problem coming up with ideas to write about. I just wanted to make sure that writing a weekly column would be in the best interest for Justin, given his young age."

Why does Justin want to do a column? "I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with others," he replied. "I hope to share what I'm learning from my educational adventures. This world is a fascinating place with many things to learn. There are also many problems that need to be corrected."

One problem Justin comments on is how schools group kids by age rather than ability (see sidebar). He's even writing a book, "Education Solutions for the New Millennium," that talks about this. And he's trying to get legislation passed prohibiting age discrimination in New York schools.

In Justin's case, his academic abilities are light-years beyond the average first-grader. So Justin is home-schooled by Elizabeth, takes high-school correspondence courses via the Cambridge Academy in Florida, and also takes courses at the University of Rochester (in person) and Stanford University (online). In addition, he's constantly reading books and doing Internet research. …

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