For 38 years Nancy Hastings, MJE, advised Munster High School’s Paragon yearbook and Crier newspaper. Today she has been named the 2017 Linda S. Puntney Teacher Inspiration Award recipient by the Journalism Education Association.
The award recognizes a journalism teacher who, through excellent instruction, inspired others to pursue scholastic journalism teaching and/or advising. Hastings becomes the 14th adviser honored since 2003.
The award will be presented and Hastings will speak at the JEA Adviser’s Institute July 10-13 in Las Vegas.
“’Oh, you’re one of Nancy’s kids?’ It’s a question we hear at every national convention,” wrote co-nominators Sarah Verpooten, MJE, and Carrie Wadycki, MJE. “The words are always followed by a knowing smile and our credibility as educators and journalists are instantly heightened in the eyes of the speaker. That’s the legacy Nancy leaves; just the mention of her name is synonymous with excellence.”
The pair co-advise the publications program at Lake Central High School in St. John, Indiana, but they got their start with Hastings at Munster.
The Crier and Paragon, under Hastings’ leadership, were honored by Columbia Scholastic Press Association with Gold Crowns, by National Scholastic Press Association with Pacemaker Awards, by Quill and Scroll with Gallup Awards, and by Indiana High School Press Association as a Hoosier Star. Hastings was the Indiana Journalism Teacher of the Year in 1983 and was the JEA National Yearbook Adviser of the Year in 1997.
She was inducted into Ball State University’s Journalism Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the school’s first Marilyn Weaver Excellence in Journalism Education Award in 2010. She received JEA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in that same year. Hastings continues to teach at summer workshops and serves as Indiana state director for JEA.
“I was a terrified as a sophomore when I took pictures of my first girls basketball game for Crier in 1993. Not one picture turned out, and I cried in the darkroom,” Wadycki wrote. “Nancy came in, gave me another roll of film and told me to go out there and shoot it again. From then on, Nancy has been encouraging me and pushing me to be a better teacher, adviser and person.”
“Beyond my parents, Nancy Hastings has done more to encourage me, build me up and nurture my talents than any other person,” Verpooten wrote. “Some students are lucky to have a good teacher for a single year or semester of school. I have been blessed to have Nancy by my side, pushing me, for the last 21 years.”
But Hastings hasn’t just inspired her own students. Through the workshops she teaches and her willingness to share her expertise, she has inspired thousands of the nation’s journalism teachers and scholastic journalists.
“Nancy is the epitome of what this award is all about,” said Linda S. Puntney, MJE and JEA executive director for whom the award was named. “I’ve known her for decades, and every time I see her I am rejuvenated by her humor, her educational rigor and her genuine love of scholastic journalism and all things student. She’s the perfect choice for this long-overdue recognition.”
The Journalism Education Association, founded in 1924 and the largest journalism education association in the nation, is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. The nonprofit organization supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities and by promoting professionalism in student media education and advising.