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4 journalism educators to receive JEA’s Medal of Merit

The Journalism Education Association will honor four journalism educators with the Medal of Merit Nov. 14 at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando, Florida.

The award is for exceptional service to JEA, state and regional associations and the profession at large.

The recipients are Don Bott, A.A. Stagg High School, Stockton, California; Deanne Brown, Westlake High School, Austin, Texas; Linda Evanchyk, MJE, Choctawhatchee High School, Fort Walton Beach, Florida; and Brenda Gorsuch, MJE, West Henderson High School, Hendersonville, North Carolina.

For more than 25 years, Bott has advised The Stagg Line at A.A. Stagg High School in Stockton, California. He is a longtime board member of the JEA of Northern California and is a former Dow Jones News Fund Adviser of the year. Twice he served as local chair for the JEA/NSPA spring conventions in San Francisco.

“Don’s exemplary leadership as a communicator, doer, listener and problem solver helped build two incredible national conventions in a smooth, efficient manner,” wrote nominator Sarah Nichols, MJE, of Whitney High School, Rocklin, California. “Although Don lives in Stockton, more than 80 miles from San Francisco, he gladly stepped to the plate to serve in such a large capacity because that’s just who he is.”

Brown advises The Featherduster newsmagazine and teaches photojournalism at Westlake High School in Austin, Texas. Several of her students have been named National High School Journalists of the Year, and The Featherduster has won Pacemakers, Gold Crowns, Gold Stars and Best of Show awards. Brown was the 2014 Texas Journalism Teacher of the Year, was named a TAJE Trailblazer and serves as president of the Association of Texas Photography Instructors.

“As a member and current president of the Association of Texas Photography Instructors, Deanne has helped teachers and students improve their photography skills and stay current with the ever-changing field,” wrote Dixie McGrath of Hill Country Middle School of Austin.

“Her own students have benefitted from her passion, winning numerous awards over the years. Those who have been fortunate to have Deanne as an instructor at one of the many workshops she teaches across the nation realize how lucky her students are.”

Evanchyk’s contributions to scholastic journalism made an impact on not only her own students, but those at the state and national levels as well, according to nominator Julie Dodd, MJE, of the University of Florida, Gainesville. During her 37 years of teaching journalism and advising student media at Choctawhatchee High School, Evanchyk also has been an active leader in the Florida Scholastic Press Association, serving on the FSPA board, being convention co-chair, and hosting the FSPA District 1 workshops.

“A teacher like this comes along, if you’re lucky, once or twice in a lifetime. I like to think that Ms. E. not only mentored generations of young journalists, but inspired us to be mentors, too,” wrote Kim Cross of Southern Living Magazine.

Gorsuch is the adviser for the Wingspan newspaper and the Westwind yearbook at West Henderson High School, Hendersonville, North Carolina. She served on the JEA Board of Directors from 2003 to 2014, and over the course of her career she has presented at national and state conventions and workshops. Her many accolades include Dow Jones News Fund 2004 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year; 2014 H.L. Hall Yearbook Adviser of the Year; Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Key; and National Scholastic Press Association Pioneer.

“Over the course of the past 18 years I have been awestruck, amazed, inspired and challenged by the absolute professionalism and talent of Brenda Gorsuch,” wrote nominator Mary Kay Downes, MJE, of Chantilly (Virginia) High School. “I ask myself, ‘How can she advise two nationally ranked publications, devote countless hours to journalism associations such as JEA, SIPA (Southern Interscholastic Press Association) and groups in North Carolina and also serve as her school’s English department chairperson?’ The answer is that she is a born teacher and she is generous.”

The Journalism Education Association is headquartered at Kansas State University. The group supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities and by promoting professionalism in student media education and advising.

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