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5 to receive Medal of Merit from Journalism Education Association

Five journalism educators will be honored Nov. 12 as Medal of Merit recipients by the Journalism Education Association at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Indianapolis.

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

Susan Gregory, MJE, is the adviser at Conestoga High School in Berwin, Pennsylvania. After a broadcast career as a news anchor, she has spent nine years as one of the most active and successful advisers in her state. Six of her students have been named state student journalist of the year and two of those were named National High School Journalist of the Year. Gregory also serves as the JEA state director for Pennsylvania.

“It is not often that a professional journalist chooses to leave the news desk at a television studio to become a journalism educator and adviser,” wrote nominator Jane Blystone, MJE, of Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. “However, in the nine years I have known Susan, she has given more to scholastic journalism than most advisers do in a lifetime.”

Jim McGonnell of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, advised the Blue & Gold newspaper at Findlay (Ohio) High School, and the publication became one of the most honored in the nation, earning numerous National Pacemaker awards from the National Scholastic Press Association, Crown awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and hundreds of individual honors at the state and national levels. McGonnell also began the school’s often-honored broadcast program.

McGonnell was the 2007 Dow Jones News Fund National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year and recipient of the JEA Linda S. Puntney Teacher Inspiration and Lifetime Achievement awards, both presented in 2014.

Sue Skalicky, MJE, teaches/advises high school journalism at Legacy High School in Bismarck, North Dakota. In the past 29 years, Skalicky has worked as a medical photographer, journalist, leadership speaker and freelance writer. She is currently the JEA state director for North Dakota.

During the past several years, Skalicky worked closely with a national team to pursue student free speech legislation in North Dakota. This student free speech bill, the John Wall New Voices Act, became law Aug. 1, 2015. These efforts have led to a national movement of New Voices acts.

Nancy Y. Smith, MJE, began teaching in 1986 at Belleville Township West High School, Belleville, Illinois. Now, at Lafayette High School, Wildwood, Missouri, she has spent her 30-year career contributing to scholastic journalism and working with high school journalism students and advisers.

In addition to speaking at regional, state and national conventions and workshops, she has been the chairperson for JEA’s National Write-off Contest held twice a year at national conventions. Smith has guided the program during a transition to digital submission and judging.

Stan Zoller, MJE, of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, is the definition of scholastic journalism in Illinois, whether he is teaching, mentoring, advising or advocating.

“Stan has the best interests of advisers and students at heart,” wrote Sally Renaud of the Illinois Journalism Education Association. “But Stan is more than a state icon. He travels the country doing workshops in journalism and in news literacy; he is the lead architect for the Illinois student press rights legislation effort, along with Frank LoMonte and Brenda Field.”

Zoller also serves on JEA’s board as director-at-large, is Diversity Committee chair and a mentor to young advisers in Illinois.

The Journalism Education Association is headquartered at Kansas State University. The organization 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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