The Journalism Education Association has selected Brenda Field, MJE, of Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Illinois, as its 2017 H.L. Hall National Yearbook Adviser of the Year.
Distinguished Yearbook Advisers are Leland Mallet, CJE, of Mansfield (Texas) Legacy High School, Allison Staub, CJE, of Westfield (Indiana) Middle School and Laura Zhu, CJE, of Toby Johnson Middle School, Elk Grove, California.
Special Recognition Yearbook Adviser is Rebecca Pollard, MJE, of Lovejoy High School, Lucas, Texas.
The National High School Yearbook 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.
Field receives award at school surprise ceremony with her students and colleagues.
Photos courtesy Kelly Glasscock.
The program, named for H.L. Hall, a JEA past president and the first National Yearbook Adviser of the Year, is underwritten by Balfour Yearbooks, Herff Jones Inc., Jostens Printing and Publishing and Walsworth Yearbooks.
The honorees will be formally recognized April 14 at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco.
Brenda Field, MJE, who has been advising yearbook staffs for 21 years, was pursuing a future in broadcast journalism at the University of Iowa when she decided teaching and advising was the career path for her.
Field’s contributions to journalism and yearbook, though, go far beyond the classroom. She has served 10 years as yearbook contest coordinator for the Northern Illinois Scholastic Press Association, she JEA’s Illinois state director, she has been on the board of directors for Illinois JEA for the past six years, and she is the local chair for the 2018 JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Chicago.
“I’ve learned so much from other advisers over the years so I’ve tried to give back to scholastic journalism in as many ways as I can,” Field said. “One of my most meaningful experiences serving scholastic journalism was in 2016. With the support from the SPLC (Student Press Law Center), Stan Zoller, former JEA director at large, and I led the IJEA arm of the legislative effort that returned Illinois to the Tinker standard.”
The program Field has developed over the years has gained many accolades, and her yearbook staffs have become well known by their consistent high achievements. They have earned NSPA Pacemakers, CSPA Gold and Silver Crowns, and numerous individual student awards, and much of that she attributes to the way her program is run.
“Journalism programs, in general, are models of 21st century learning. There are few places in a school that provide opportunities to learn collaboration, creativity, problem solving, civic and information literacy skills in the way that publications courses do,” she said.
Field’s three yearbook classes are designed to do all those things in a student-led environment, something she believes is not unique to her program, but essential to all journalism students having the best opportunities.
However, Field knows that those opportunities don’t always exist due to limited budgets, administrator perspectives or state laws, which is why she continues to fight for strong scholastic journalism programs outside of her own school.
“The New Voices movement is gaining momentum, and we need to keep working. We need to help lawmakers and administrators see that scholastic journalism is participatory civics,” she said. “It doesn’t matter whether our students pursue careers in journalism; students who learn to use their voices in high school become civically engaged adults.”
The work she has done in Illinois and for scholastic journalism in general hasn’t gone unnoticed, and her nominators know it goes back to one consistent element: her passion for helping the students.
“With Brenda, it’s always about the kids,” said Mitch Eden, MJE, of Kirkwood (Missouri) High School. “Brenda simply creates an environment where students are given every opportunity to express themselves, to lead their community, and to feel comfortable and supported, no matter how tough the coverage may be or how sensitive the issue.”
Leland Mallett, CJE, began his foray into scholastic journalism as a seventh grader when he didn’t get into the woodworking elective and instead found newspaper.
“When I saw the boxy little Macintosh, it was love at first sight,” he said. “I was at the right place, at exactly the right time when three technologies came together: the Macintosh computer and LaserWriter printer and Aldus’ page makeup program PageMaker.”
Now, after 18 years of advising and new technology that didn’t exist when he first learned, Mallett has established himself as a strong and impactful yearbook adviser. Mallett shares his expertise writing in numerous publications, presenting at state and national conventions, critiquing other publications, and serving as the webmaster for the Texas Association of Journalism Educators.
Allison Staub, CJE, has been transforming the yearbook program at Westfield Middle School for the last eight years, while also reinventing herself from an art teacher to a media and journalism teacher.
Her yearbook program initially began as an extracurricular project, but Staub worked to make it stand out within the first year, turning it into a highly selective, application-based class called Digital Design. And the success of her program hasn’t been overlooked.
Staub contributes to various yearbook publications, sharing the secrets of her program. She serves as co-chair the JEA Junior High/Middle School National Media Contest, she is on the JEA national Write-off staff, she judges for the National Journalism Quiz Bowl, and she presents at the conferences and workshops she attends.
On top of that, she meets with a new yearbook adviser in her area every other week to plan and go over curriculum. Even though she dedicates much of her time elsewhere, her main focus is still her students.
“I want to teach my students to have grit, resilience and leadership and to become more responsible individuals,” she said. “I know not all of them will practice journalism in the future, but these traits will assist them in any challenge or career that they choose to take on.”
Laura Zhu, CJE, has had a passion for journalism since she was 6 years old, and despite not being accepted onto her eighth-grade newspaper and yearbook staffs because she was over-involved in other things, she has remained committed to the power of print ever since.
Zhu began advising yearbook in 2005 in northern California and is now in her 13th year of advising. Along with advising middle school students and teaching them digital media, photography, Photoshop and social media skills, Zhu also volunteers her time to JEA of Northern California, working to “help middle schools play a more active role in local activities and contests,” she said.
She also extends those skills to help JEA as the co-chair for the Junior High/Middle School National Media Contest. Zhu and her students have had significant success over the years despite having 100 percent turnover every year.
“I believe that students will reach whatever bar of achievement you set,” she said. “So, I set my bar as high as I possibly can. When armed with knowledge and their teacher’s trust, they make excellent decisions and are motivated to fulfill them.”
SPECIAL RECOGNITION ADVISER
Rebecca Pollard, MJE, has been advising for 17 years, transforming programs at multiple schools in Texas, but she describes that first teaching experience as her “foot in the door” to solely being a journalism teacher and publications adviser.
Now in a new position at Lovejoy High School, Pollard is again looking at how to continue building on the healthy program she inherited from her predecessor.
Part of the process for her is to ensure a 21st century newsroom where all students “are not a segregated staff by skillset; we don’t have a photography staff, a design staff and a writing staff,” she said. “If a student is in our media room, they will perform and learn all skills necessary.”
This method works well for Pollard as her students have reaped the rewards of gaining new skills, and they have the awards to prove it.
“As a journalism teacher, Mrs. Pollard dedicates herself to teaching the staff all the aspects of yearbook in order to prepare her students as much as possible for the real world,” former student Stephanie Morse said. “Mrs. Pollard helped me become a better leader than I ever thought possible, refine my time-management skills, learn how to manage stress, and (she) instilled in me a desire to never stop learning.”
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.