In a surprise announcement at a schoolwide staff meeting, the Journalism Education Association named Renee Burke, MJE, journalism adviser at William R. Boone High School, Orlando, Florida, its 2015 H. L. Hall National Yearbook Adviser of the Year.
Making the presentation was Margaret Sorrows, CJE, 2014 National Yearbook Adviser of the Year, from Alexander, Arkansas.
Burke will be honored at the April 16 awards luncheon during the 2016 JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Los Angeles.
Burke has taught for 21 years at Boone High School and began advising newspaper in her second year. Now teaching journalism full-time, her advising duties have expanded to include yearbook and online media.
“Before taking Renee’s classes, I never appreciated the value in thoroughly researching every subject and preparing for interviews in advance. Now I realize just how critical it was to never go into an interview unprepared,” wrote Samuel Gardner, a Boone alumnus now reporting for FoxSports.com.
Burke is National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certified in Career and Technical Education with a journalism focus, a JEA Master Journalism Educator and an Adobe Certified Associate for Photoshop CS6.
“The Boone High School yearbook is one of the best in America, an exemplar that I always look forward to using as a teaching tool in camps,” wrote Joe Humphrey, MJE, of Hillsborough High School, Tampa, Florida. “Renee motivates her students to create a journalistically sound publication that tackles both the spirit of the school and hot-button issues of the year.”
The 2015 Legend yearbook is a Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown finalist and the 2014 book was named a Gold Crown. The 2014 Hilights online media was a National Scholastic Press Association Pacemaker finalist.
Burke has chaired the Florida Scholastic Press Association State Convention and was a committee chair for the JEA/NSPA convention in Orlando in 2015. She also coordinates the highly respected Camp Orlando summer journalism workshop for Walsworth Publishing Co.
“Camp Orlando is the best-run scholastic learning experience I have ever been associated with,” wrote Rick Brunson, associate instructor of journalism at the University of Central Florida. “Hundreds of high school yearbook students leave Orlando inspired to commit journalism excellence because of the camp experience that Renee creates.”
Burke summarized why she loves advising student publications: “It is the daily successes that make my job great. Yes, it is nice to celebrate a staff’s big awards, but life is about all the little moments that help define us.
“Like, when I know a student finally understands passive voice verb because I just heard him identify it on another staffer’s paper and saw him help that student fix it,” she said. “Or when a beginning photographer captures a stunning photo of the juniors beating the seniors in the first kickball tournament, and realizing she listened to me about anticipating the action to get great photos.”
Named a Distinguished Yearbook Adviser by JEA in 2014, Burke also was honored as 2011 Florida Adviser of the Year, 2012 Orange County Public Schools Teacher of the Year and 2000 and 2011 Boone High School Teacher of the Year. She also received a Gold Key from CSPA in 2011 and was a Dow Jones News Fund Distinguished Adviser in 2008.
JEA has presented the Yearbook Adviser of the Year award for 21 years and Burke is the 23rd recipient. She is the third adviser honored since the award was named for its first recipient, Homer L. Hall, a JEA past president and award-winning publication adviser at Kirkwood (Missouri) High School, now retired.
Five veteran scholastic journalism leaders were on the judging panel.
JEA also announced five advisers who will be honored at the luncheon. Distinguished Yearbook Advisers are Erinn Harris, MJE, of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Alexandria, Virginia, and Michael Simons, MJE, of Corning-Painted Post High School in Corning, New York. Special Recognition Yearbook Advisers are Leslie Shipp, MJE, of Johnston High School, Johnston, Iowa; Sarah Verpooten, MJE, of Lake Central High School, St. John, Indiana, and Laura Zhu, CJE, of Toby Johnson Middle School, Elk Grove, California.
The Yearbook Adviser of the Year program is sponsored by Balfour, Herff Jones, Jostens and Walsworth yearbook companies.
The Journalism Education Association is a national organization of scholastic journalism teachers and school media advisers. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.