Teacher Feature: Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli of Communication

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]A college campus is full of individuals with hidden talents, desires and pasts. Students and teachers alike all have a unique story to reveal to the world.
In the summer of 2009, Clarion University added Kathleen Phalen Tomaselli to its temporary faculty list. She has traveled all across the nation in pursuit of a career and place to expand her story.
Tomaselli began her teaching career about 13 years ago, teaching mostly courses in journalism and writing. She obtained a Master of Arts in journalism and public affairs from the American University in Washington, D.C., and an undergrad bachelor’s degree in broadcasting from Millersville University.
Tomaselli also has worked in Pennsylvania and other states teaching at other well-established colleges such as Lynchburg, Mary Baldwin, Randolph Macon Women’s, the University of Richmond and currently at Chatham University in Pittsburgh.
Her courses have ranged between creative nonfiction, science and environmental writing, political writing, investigative journalism and grant writing.
Tomaselli said she “loves trying all kinds of things” and to “take off on a whim and explore life.”
Tomaselli’s explorations did not stop with her teaching career.
“Over the years,” she said, “I have been a staff metro reporter and correspondent for major newspapers, specializing in watchdog and investigative journalism.”
An experimenter and traveler, Tomaselli has often been “pushed by my desires to know the truth and to experience life in all its glory and shadows.”
Her previous careers in writing have whisked her away to as far as the mystical rainforests in the West Indies or Oaxaca and Mexico City.
Tomaselli said she loves every aspect of her reporting career, “even when having to cover school board meetings. As I learned early, they often bear small seeds that blossom.”
While she was working with the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., she attended a typical school board meeting in Boyertown, Pa. She soon learned it was far from the typical talk of politics and budget. She heard rumors of racial conflicts at the local high school, and upon further digging, she uncovered a group of adult men, armed in pick-up trucks, had swarmed a student because of his relationship with another girl attending the school.
She said the investigator inside her took grasp of her heart and she decided to “go to every meeting and grass roots effort the community hosted, trying to build a story. I spent time in tattoo parlors, time at the local diner, time just sitting in small meeting after small meeting.”
She continued, “The onion began to unfold, tip led to tip and when it was all said and done I had uncovered the East Coast Headquarters of the Aryan Nations and their planned infiltration into positions on the school board.”
In addition, Tomaselli also uncovered information about buried weapon arsenals from divorce transcripts located at the courthouses, about suspicious real estate dealings from secret sources, and unraveled a link between east coast Aryan Nations leaders and Timothy McVey.
She landed an interview with Pastor Robert Milar, a man who sheltered McVey.
She was “contacted by Jo Thomas from the New York Times and reporters from many other papers including the Rocky Mountain News for information for their own stories. This eventually led to FBI arrests since the group was linked to armed bank robberies around the country.” Smiling she added, “An FBI memo to the Director of the FBI, cites my stories and includes a copy of one. My name is also mentioned in this FBI memo. And while all my investigations were not as exciting and as dangerous; they were all meaningful and in the public interest.”
A talented writer with a knack for digging deep and unraveling mysteries, Tomaselli was syndicated by the Los Angeles Times Health and Fitness wire, wrote for USA Today, USA Magazine, the Washington Post and regular investigative stories for Gadfly Magazine including “the militarization of police, and that led to a big feature on Frank Serpico, the New York City detective who stood up against corruption in the department and whose work led to the Knapp Commission.”
She said she loved “uncovering injustice and working on the edge of exciting things.  In teaching, I love when students do well and exceed the bounds of what they thought they could do.”
Tomaselli’s career as a teacher is just the icing on the cake in comparison to her past achievements.
Her advice to those who aspire to be investigative journalists: “Be true to your own ethics. Don’t be swayed by deadline pressure. Always tell the truth in your stories, double-check everything. Step away from what everyone else is doing and be unique. Find your own voice and soar.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_facebook type=”standard”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_tweetmeme type=”horizontal”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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