Team That Ran Team Break Up, Pursue Other Projects

Adolescent-oriented Magazine Had Following In Schools

July 28, 1991|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff writer

Like many businesses across the country, TEAM Associates of Columbiais shutting down this year.

But unlike many companies struggling through the recession, TEAM, The Early Adolescence Magazine, was still making a small profit with its July-August final issue, said editorWilliam Kerewsky.

The magazine has been published 30 times over the last five yearsand developed a loyal following among teachers, administrators and community service workers who deal with young teen-agers.

"I've gotten letters from all over the country saying how sorry people are," Kerewsky, 52, said.

Even the editor of what might loosely be considered its only competition expressed regrets.

"The publication of TEAM was a very wonderful experience for readers and writers alike andI'm saddened at its loss," said Tom Dickinson, editor of the Middle School Journal and former writer for TEAM.

"I'm disappointed that we won't have it as one of our resources, because there are very few that are actually geared toward young adolescents," said Jim Gill, principal of Leawood Middle School in the Kansas City suburbs and contributor of photos and articles to the magazine.

But despite its following, Kerewsky, former instructional director of Howard County middle schools, decided to close up shop.

The reason, he explains, is that his two partners, H. Thomas Walker, the county schools' directorof media services, and Paula Montgomery, have decided to stop running the business end. Instead, the two have decided to concentrate on several book projects and their other publication, Library: Media Activities Monthly.

For his part, Kerewsky is continuing his consulting business, advising school systems across the country on how to improve their operations. He regularly attends conferences on middle school issues ranging from curriculum to disciplinary problems.

"I wasjust up at Harvard yesterday and people were coming up to me and begging me not to stop the magazine," Kerewsky said from his office in Governor Century Plaza.

At this point, however, the only parties interested in resuming publication of TEAM are officials at a major university's middle school resource center. There has been no commitmentfrom the school, which Kerewsky would not name, and there probably will not be any decision on the venture until after classes resume in the fall.

"If some other organization would like to talk to me about renewing TEAM, and do some aggressive marketing of it, I'd be gladto continue editing it," Kerewsky said.

A 30-year veteran educator, Kerewsky handled the creative end of the magazine, including some writing and all editing and design. His busy consulting schedule, he said, did not interfere with his magazine duties.

"Those things I could do on airplanes, in hotels," Kerewsky said, citing "other aspects to a magazine that I just can't handle," such as fulfilling subscriptions, cashing checks and handling complaints.

Since TEAM began publication in September 1986, the closest thing it has had to competition has been the bimonthly Middle School Journal, put out by the National Middle School Association. But Dickinson argued against being called a competitor, explaining that his is a strictly professional journal, with each article subjected to the scrutiny of a panel of experts.

But like TEAM, the Journal has started featuring large colorpictures of bright young faces on its cover, which used to be drab and academic-looking. Dickinson said he introduced the new format.

The TEAM covers became a familiar sight in the offices of more than 2,000 middle schools spread among all 50 states, Canada and Europe. Kerewsky had given permission to photocopy articles to distribute to individual teachers and parents.

The magazine grew out of the Early Adolescence Information Project, which Kerewsky conceived when he wasstill principal of Harper's Choice Middle School and launched with a$3,000 grant from the Columbia Foundation.

The three-year projectwas developed to help coordinate professionals working with the 10- to 14-year-old-set. But the magazine was created to go beyond providing a professional forum and focus on the children the professionals were shepherding.

"Mine is the only one that invited parents to write and teachers and ministers to write," while other publications tend to carry strictly scholarly writings, Kerewsky said.

The publication, which did not pay for any submissions, broke even for the firsttime in January 1988 and has managed to pay all of its bills ever since with only the $40 annual subscription fees -- which have never increased -- and no advertising revenue.

The publication took in about $84,000 a year, and "virtually everything got plowed back in for advertising to improve the magazine," such as mailers to schools and teachers, Kerewsky said.

"We've taken very little out of the company," he said, adding TEAM will pay all its bills and refund its subscriptions before closing at the end of the year.

With his magazine at an end, Kerewsky is concentrating on his consulting business, whichis booked solid for several months. One of the jobs Kerewsky has been working on is helping the South Bend, Ind., school system organize and improve its middle schools.

"My whole goal (in Indiana) is to work myself out of a job. Essentially I'm director of middle schools without being director of middle schools."

While he makes more money as a consultant than as a school official or magazine magnate, he is gambling there always will be enough work.

"You trade security for possibilities for adventure," he said.

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