A former Wichita television reporter is headed back to the classroom.
Pilar Pedraza, who left her position at KWCH-TV in June after she and the station were unable to come to terms on a new contract, will teach journalism this fall at West High School in Wichita, she announced via Twitter on Monday.
“I’m excited and scared,” Pedraza said. “While I’ve taught journalism before, there are aspects to this that I haven’t done before, so it’s a new challenge.”
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Pedraza, 42, has spent most of her professional life in broadcast journalism, though she spent several years teaching high school Spanish in Andale. During her last year teaching, she also supervised Andale High School’s yearbook and newspaper, she said.
The position at West High was vacant after a former associate producer for KWCH, who had been slated to teach at the school, was arrested in June on suspicion of electronic solicitation of a child.
Troy Brian Rigg Jr., who was arrested in that case, has not been charged, law enforcement officials said Monday. Dan Dillon, spokesman for the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office, said, “The case remains under review pending further investigation.”
Pedraza’s beat at KWCH included education, state politics and breaking news. She said she’s looking forward to sharing lessons from those experiences with students.
“Journalism is a hard business – very hard – and I always joke that the reason you get into it is so you can tell the war stories later,” she said. “So for the next year, I get to indulge myself and tell war stories.”
She will teach journalism and oversee West High’s student newspaper and yearbook, she said. She is certified to teach history and government, as well as Spanish and journalism, and she is pursuing a master’s degree in history.
She plans to continue hosting “Kansas Week” on KPTS, and to maintain her Facebook and Twitter accounts, she said.
“I think teaching and journalism are the same job: It’s helping other people understand a particular topic,” she said. “The only difference is, I’ve got a live studio audience now – one who will laugh at me when I mess up.”
Pedraza said she doesn’t know how long she’ll teach or whether she’ll return to broadcast journalism. Because of a no-compete clause in her previous contract with KWCH, she would not be allowed to work for a competing television station for one year.
“Right now I’m concentrating on the next 12 months,” she said. “Mainly I’m ready to get back to work. I’m not a person who deals well with staying home.”
Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker of The Eagle.