Psychologist Dr. Dan Gottlieb — better known as Dr. Dan, host of WHYY’s Voices in the Family — is used to doing interviews, But, recently, a group of fourth-grade journalists turned the tables and interviewed him as part of their assignment for Healthy NewsWorks, a program that trains and mentors students in health reporting.
After weeks of researching Gottlieb’s work, fourth-graders at Highland Park Elementary School in Upper Darby asked the radio personality about his job and life and they didn’t shy away from tough questions. “What was your worst mistake in your life?” said one young journalist.
Gottlieb admitted that it was a difficult question.
“I mean the first thing I thought of [was] what got me in the wheelchair, a bad car accident I was in,” he said.
Referring to the car accident that left him paralyzed, Gottlieb reflected on the question and gave a thoughtful answer.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten in my car that day,” he said. “But no! Because I’m happy!”
The interview with Gottlieb will appear in the book “Leading Healthy Change in Our Community,” an anthology of interviews with regional health leaders .
Teacher Dr. Leslie Anger Isaacs’ class took part in the interview at Highland Park Elementary. She says that Healthy NewsWorks has helped her students grow and build important skills.
“They’ve learned how to research. They know how to shake a hand. They know how to create an open-ended question, wait for a response and, on their feet, create followup questions.”
The students’ work is also published in school newspapers. The Highland Park students write for The Healthy Hawk.
During the interview, Gottlieb described a philanthropic project he’w working on to raise money to help special needs children attending the Khulani Special School in South Africa.
“There were these kids – maybe 150 of them — with all kinds of special needs. And they had no money,” he explained.
The interview inspired the fourth-graders to start their own fundraising projects for the South African school. They organized bake sales and held donation drives; one student had a donation jar at his 10th birthday party.
To date, students at Highland Park Elementary have raised more than $1,000 for Khulani Special School. The funds will be matched by Gottleib.
“Leading Healthy Change in Our Community” will be released on Wednesday with a launch party and book signing by students at Merion Tribute House in Merion Station.