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7 journalism educators to receive JEA Medal of Merit

Seven individuals who have contributed significantly to scholastic journalism throughout their career will be recognized by the Journalism Education Association as Medal of Merit recipients Nov. 18 at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in Dallas.

The award recipients are Jeanne Acton-Shanks, University Interscholastic League, Austin, Texas; Kelly Furnas, Elon (North Carolina) University; Nancy Hastings, Highland, Indiana; Brian D. Hayes, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana; Aaron Manfull, Francis Howell North High School, St. Charles, Missouri; Margie Raper, Highland Park High School, Dallas; and Mitch Ziegler, Redondo Union High School, Redondo Beach, California.

Jeanne Acton-Shanks has spent most of her career helping scholastic journalism grow in Texas while also supporting advisers from around the country. For the last 13 years, however, Acton-Shanks has spent a large portion of her time overseeing the journalism programs in all of Texas, including a revision of the essential knowledge and skills. When she isn’t helping in Texas, Acton-Shanks is advising new teachers at the Reynolds Institute and helping NSPA. Jeanne is at the heart of everything good about journalism, nominator Cindy Todd said. She is a compassionate leader who is determined to give both teachers and students the best experience and most opportunities possible.

Kelly Furnas, MJE, used his role as JEA executive director to extend the reach of the organization throughout his tenure from 2010-2016. During this time, he helped conceive the curriculum initiative, provided continual support for the Scholastic Press Rights Committee and made connections to Career and Technical Education. His efforts as JEA’s executive director made the organization stronger in its programming, structure and finances, nominator Sarah Nichols, MJE, said, but more importantly, Kelly made each of its leaders better through his teaching.

Nancy Hastings, MJE, retired from teaching and advising after 38 years and has stayed involved as JEA’s Indiana state director for more than two decades. Hastings has maintained her commitment to journalism and her education as a journalism workshop instructor despite being out of the classroom. She continues to help lead other state directors, providing her insights in the JEA State Directors Guide foreword. Her positive energy, sense of humor and personal approach [are] just what members need as their introduction to scholastic journalism and to JEA in particular, nominator Sarah Nichols, MJE, said.

Brian D. Hayes, MJE, has had a wide variety of experiences in journalism, but his expertise in design and graphics stands out. He has served as the design and graphics team leader for the JEA Curriculum Initiative, served on the Certification Committee and provided instruction at the JEA Advisers Institute. Brian reaches out beyond Ball State, nominator Kim Green, MJE, said. He volunteers to help both JEA and the Indiana High School Press Association at every turn.

Aaron Manfull, MJE, has spent numerous hours dedicated to programs beyond where he teaches. As the JEA Digital Media chair, the Media Now summer camp director, and the MJEA Outreach director, Manfull has managed to share his experiences and expertise with many students and advisers across the country. Aaron goes above and beyond with logic, details and vision, nominator Mitch Eden, MJE, said. He thinks what is best for kids every time we discuss journalism and the direction a program should be pointed.

Margie Raper, MJE, has extended her outreach beyond Texas in a quiet, behind-the-scenes manner. She has had her hand in many aspects of scholastic journalism, from writing curriculum to teaching convention sessions, from helping design logos and T-shirts to presiding over the Texas Association of Journalism Educators. She brings a wealth of knowledge in all areas of scholastic journalism as a 15-year teacher and a former broadcast journalist, nominator Cindy Todd said. Margie prefers to work behind the scenes. She is constantly thinking, planning and searching for ways to provide enriching experiences for both teachers and students.

Mitch Ziegler, CJE, may be an expert in all areas of journalism and photojournalism, as nominator Mary Kay Downes, MJE, said, but his contributions extend far beyond his knowledge. As a current member and former president of Southern California JEA, Mitch has helped support journalism in Southern California. As an extension of that group, he chaired the Anaheim JEA/NPSA national convention in 2008, and he helped the local committees for both the 2011 and 2016 conventions. Mitch is a true professional, continually seeking to improve his skills as a teacher and photographer, and an amazing friend and colleague, nominator Brenda Gorsuch, MJE, said.

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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