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JEA honors advisers with Medal of Merit

The Journalism Education Association has selected three teachers as its Medal of Merit honorees. JEA presents this award to members who have provided exceptional service to the national organization and the profession. Award winners will be recognized Nov. 8 at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Washington, D.C.

The Medal of Merit winners are

Mitch Eden, MJE

Eden has advised The Kirkwood Call newspaper, Pioneer yearbook and thekirkwoodcall.com website at Kirkwood (Missouri) High School. He was most recently named the Society of Professional Journalists Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award winner. His students’ work has earned Pacemakers, Gold Crowns and multiple national and state awards.

“Mitch’s Kirkwood student media received the First Amendment Press Freedom Award multiple times because students not only believe in First Amendment principles but also practice them daily, presenting effective reporting leadership in the various platforms they publish,” wrote John Bowen, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee chair.

Eden is president of the Missouri Journalism Education Association and conference coordinator for Sponsors of School Publications of Greater St. Louis. He has served JEA as secretary and is active as a member of the JEA Student Press Rights Committee.

“He respected tradition but wasn’t afraid of change when change was necessary,” wrote JEA Vice President Sarah Nichols, MJE, reflecting the time Eden was secretary. “His levelheadedness helped solve budgetary challenges and logistical concerns as well as shaped the big thinking behind major JEA initiatives such as the future of scholastic journalism and what our organization might look like in 10, 20 or 30 years.”

Joe Humphrey, MJE

Humphrey is a 10-year teacher who advises Hillsborough High School’s yearbook, newspaper, and online news programs. He is a former print journalist and completed two terms as president of the Florida Scholastic Press Association in 2013. He is local team chairman of the 2015 JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando.

“From the start of my tenure five years ago, Joe constantly pushed for improvement and change in the way that scholastic journalism was conducted, both in Florida and nationally,” wrote Wayne Garcia, executive director of the Florida Scholastic Press Association. “In Florida, he grew our membership with his tireless outreach and advocacy. He led the charge to move most of our operations online, strengthening our website and creating an entirely new set of online contests that are held in the fall and spring.”

In 2010 Humphrey was named a Distinguished Adviser by the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund. He also serves on JEA’s Certification Committee.

“Most important, Joe loves to learn and grow. To me, this makes him a role model for us all.” Kim Green, MJE, JEA Certification Committee chair, wrote. He has attended the last two JEA Advisers Institutes in Las Vegas, both presenting sessions and attending them. In fact, while I was conducting certification testing, he was presenting a session on teaching sports writing in the next room that made me wish I were there!”

Valerie Kibler, CJE

Kibler has taught English and advised journalism at Harrisonburg (Virginia) High School since 1998. Her students produce the national award-winning Newsstreak newspaper and website. In 2010, Kibler was named Dow Jones News Fund National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year and she received the Gold Key from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

“She has an undying dedication to improving scholastic journalism in every corner of the country,” wrote Chris Waugaman, MJE, of Prince George (Virginia) High School. “After leading the VAJTA (Virginia Association of Journalism Media Advisers) as director for many years, she is now the JEA Virginia state director, a JEA curriculum initiative leader, and also sits on the NSPA (National Scholastic Press Association) board. In many areas of the country a group of teachers keep their state going with conferences and workshops. In our state, there would be no summer workshop (jCamp), or spring workshop (jDay) without Valerie.”

Kibler served as local committee chairperson for the 2009 JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Washington, D.C., which had highest attendance level of any JEA/NSPA convention. She once again chair the committee for the upcoming fall convention in November.

“Valerie sees the humor in situations, understands the changing presence of technology and is a role model for her students and young teacher-advisers,” wrote Carol Lange, CJE, of Reston, Virginia.
“Working on the local committee of the 2009 and 2014 JEA/NSPA national conventions, I admire her commitment to bringing together a strong group of young and experienced advisers to create a quality experience for attendees.”

Founded in 1924, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, by promoting professionalism, by encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and by fostering an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

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