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Missouri teacher earns Distinguished Broadcast Adviser honor

Bannester-headshot-150x200pxThe Journalism Education Association has named Jane Bannester of Ritenour High School, St. Louis, a Distinguished Broadcast Adviser. She will be recognized Nov. 18 at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in Dallas.

The National High School Broadcast Adviser of the Year program is designed to honor outstanding high school advisers and their exemplary work from the previous year, as well as throughout their careers. Title sponsor for the award is the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College.

As part of the honor, Ritenour High School will receive $500, which may be used to buy equipment for the broadcast classroom or to fund student scholarships to summer workshops.

Bannester, who was initially hired to teach speech and theater fell into broadcast in 1997 and never looked back.

Faced with rapidly evolving technology, Bannester figured out quickly how to adapt and push her students to gain the skills needed to produce good journalism year after year. Her dedication to journalism eventually allowed for the implementation of the Media Convergence department where the faculty can focus on teaching 21st-century skills.

“Through the Ritenour Media Convergence Program, students receive real-life experiences, using real-world equipment and teaching methods,” said Doug Bray, director of communications and community service for the Ritenour School District.

It is Bannester’s focus on these real-life experiences and the notion that this industry is constantly changing that has propelled her students to a greater understanding of their reach.

Through her teaching of broadcast, Bannester understands “what a difference one moment in history can make.” For years, programs have been “conditioned to not rock the boat” due to the Hazelwood School District vs. Kuhlmeier standard, she said, but following the incidents that happened in Ferguson, Missouri, she and her students have found the means to speak about topics of significance to them.

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“Coverage of the effects of race on the youth of St. Louis was not only encouraged by our district, but also celebrated,” Bannester said. “This lesson has allowed our students to push farther and break from the old norm. This year the students established higher quality topics as a team goal. Once again, what a difference history has made for us.”

This experience also has allowed Bannester the opportunity to share her story with others and expand education surrounding racial injustice. The work that her students produced following Ferguson created opportunities for them to be featured elsewhere, including on NPR. They also were invited to contribute alongside the New York Times, St. Louis Post, and Huffington Post to produce educational videos about Ferguson.

Bray describes Bannester as the “driving force” behind media convergence at Ritenour, and the work she continues to push for from her students and from herself reflect that mentality. And even though she admits how tough it is to teach new technology before it is out of date, she will continue to insist educators must be willing to change.

“In our business, a movement is on to innovate and possess a growth mindset. We must evolve our systems for reaching our students. We need to create drive by having students work through obsessive fact-based reporting,” Bannester said. “The idea that our business practices are static is dead. We must remain open to the change.”

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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