2011 board of directors candidate statements
Steve Matson, MJE, has been a journalism educator for 23 years, teaching and advising both newspaper and yearbook staffs. In his 31-year teaching career he also taught English, including AP English, in high schools and colleges and has graded AP English exams for the College Board. Matson speaks regularly at national and state conferences about press law and ethics, staff management, design, computer technology, and adviser training. The newspaper he advised received several national Pacemakers, Gold Crowns, and Best of Show trophies and was inducted into the NSPA Hall of Fame; the yearbook he advised earned top 10 placings in NSPA’s Best of Show and a CSPA Silver Crown. Matson has received JEA’s Medal of Merit, NSPA’s Pioneer Award, WJEA’s Adviser of the Year, and his journalism staff manual received a JEA award for “Innovative Instruction.” Matson was the local chair for the 2005 Seattle national journalism convention and he is the local chair for the 2012 Seattle convention. Matson has served on the JEA Board as regional director of Northwest Region 1 since 1999.
Statement of Goals:
These are daunting times for scholastic journalism. Advisers face increasing pressure from school officials who want to restrict the content of student publications to suit their personal notion of appropriateness. Student publication budgets are shrinking and publications are losing staff members to other school requirements. In JEA we need to protect the rights of students to do responsible, professional journalism, to protect journalism’s place in the curriculum, and to provide journalism educators with the resources they need to become excellent teachers. I have experienced these challenges, resisted them, and dedicated my professional life in JEA to helping keep a student-managed press alive and well.
During my tenure on the JEA Board, our organization has developed powerful “new” initiatives, such as the Outreach Academy, Mentorship Program, Professional Learning Community, DigitalMedia website, and our boldest new step: free memberships to recruit new members. At the same time we have improved “older” programs, such as Certification, JEAHELP, C:JET, and the Bookstore. However, we have ahead much more work to improve the diversity of our organization, overhaul the JEA website, and stay current with technological developments. And as we pursue new ways to aid journalism educators, we must not neglect the jewel in JEA’s crown, our exciting national conventions. They must remain both affordable to members. I am eager to put my back into these projects as Vice President of JEA.
My 12 years as Northwest Regional Director has directly prepared me for working with other regional and state directors, which is the most specific duty of JEA’s Vice President, and for helping the President manage JEA business. This experience has also equipped me for the responsibility of helping manage and protect JEA’s budget, a fiduciary responsibility I take very seriously.
Sarah Nichols, MJE, teaches journalism, photojournalism, mass media and publications at Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif., where she advises Details, The Roar and Whitney Update. Previously she taught at Rocklin (Calif.) and Danville Community (Ind.) high schools. Nichols is a JEA state director and is past president of the JEA of Northern California. She serves on the Certification Commission, Scholastic Press Rights Commission and Digital Media Committee. Nichols is a liaison to JEA’s Student Partners group and the 45words initiative. Her students’ publications consistently earn top national and state honors. Personal recognition includes JEA’s Medal of Merit (2010), Distinguished Adviser (2006) and NSPA’s Pioneer Award (2008). She wrote the current NSPA Yearbook Guidebook (2008) and is developing an advising course for the Center for Scholastic Journalism. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from IU and an M.Ed from Indiana Wesleyan University. Nichols has chaired state conventions, coordinated contests, led scholarship committees and judged newspapers and yearbooks for national, regional and state associations. She is a delegate for the California Journalism Education Coalition, a group that coordinates scholastic journalism efforts from high school to university level and helped pass California adviser protection legislation. Nichols has spent the past 13 years teaching nearly 100 journalism workshops and speaking at state conventions and J-days. She loves connecting with other advisers and students and shares materials with them on her website. She loves family, travel, reading, technology, the San Francisco Giants and “Glee.”
Statement of Goals:
Serving JEA as vice president would be an honor and responsibility I would pursue with passion, integrity and innovation.
Since my first experience with JEA at age 16, I have been impressed by the talented, dedicated leaders and all of the efforts from this volunteer organization. If elected, I’d like to build upon the strong foundation of our past and make important strides toward preserving our future. In addition to solidifying our budget, increasing membership, expanding outreach efforts, protecting First Amendment rights and improving communication within and among all JEA groups, I want to expand the ways we support journalism educators. I’d like us to pursue digital and virtual ways we can teach, train and support each other using new models and inexpensive technology in addition to strengthening existing JEA programs.
It’s a critical time in journalism and education both, and to thrive — not just survive — will take some new approaches to old ideas. We’ve got a big job ahead of us, and I’d be honored to help in any way members envision. I hope my past performance demonstrates how I can motivate and manage people and projects.
As vice president, I would support the president, seek input from members, hear and address concerns, communicate frequently and honestly with state directors and do everything possible to support JEA. I bring enthusiasm to this position, as well as skills in curriculum development, assessment and technology. Mostly, I bring a willingness to learn, an open mind and a personal drive for excellence in all I pursue.