2011 board of directors candidate statements

2011 board of directors candidate statements


Region 1, Northwest

Sandra Coyer

Sandra Coyer, MJE, has advised publication since beginning her teaching career in 1999. Prior to teaching, she earned a Communications degree from Washington State University after spending her high school career as a journalism student. She currently serves as adviser to the Viking Vanguard at Puyallup High School in Puyallup, Wash. Her students have earned recognition in write-offs both at the state and national level, as well as staff recognition not only from NSPA in Best of Show but also CSPA. She has served the Washington Journalism Education Association as secretary for four years, and is currently in her second two-year term as vice-president. She is co-chair of the WJEA Write-off contests for 2011 and has volunteered to help in that capacity for the Seattle Convention in 2012. She speaks at state and national conferences as well as teaches at the WJEA Summer Workshop. She was recognized in 2008 by the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund as a Special Recognition Adviser. In 2010, she was awarded Washington State Adviser of the Year.

Statement of Goals:
Student publications in this region continue to feel the pressure of the economy as they struggle to find funds to print. New and innovative ideas regarding generating revenue are direly needed in order to maintain journalism programs that can be self-sufficient and viable as budgets continue to tighten in districts throughout the region. In addition, many publications are still facing administrative pressure regarding censorship issues and adviser protections. Washington State, for example, is continuing to look into legislation regarding student free expression. One of the most important things JEA can continue to do is reach out to advisers, especially new advisers who obtain their positions because of budget cuts, in order to provide support and direction in all areas of the ever-changing curriculum. I’m excited about what the future holds in journalism, especially how the new technologies will impact the day-to-day operations of the scholastic medium. I hope to be able to provide my energy and enthusiasm in this capacity to JEA and its members.

Mike Riley

Mike Riley, CJE, is the broadcast adviser at Cody High School in Cody, Wyo., where he also teaches Mass Communications and Creative Writing. He advised The Equus newspaper, which he started at CHS in 1991, for 13 years, and advised The Bronc yearbook for 14. He served as Executive Director of the Wyoming High School Student Press Association for five years, and as Broadcast Write-Off Coordinator for JEA during the last four years, and his students produced “The Best of JEA Broadcast” DVD’s in the JEA Bookstore. Before becoming involved in teaching journalism, he was writer-in-residence for Montana, where he edited anthologies of students’ work from his workshops. Besides his public school experience, he has taught in prison, at the Texas School for the Deaf, at the Blackfeet Indian Community College, in the Marshall Islands and at the University of Montana. He’s done workshops all over the country for NCTE, JEA, AIHEC and STN.

Statement of Goals:
My goals are to provide more opportunities for students to practice journalism in the region, and to support the healthy growth of existing programs. I believe JEA needs to aggressively promote journalism education as one of the most important disciplines a school can support.

I grew up in rural Montana and attended a public school with about 30 students in my graduating class. My girlfriend pasted together the yearbook after school by herself, and she talked me into mimeographing half a ream of two-sided, one-page student newspapers every Tuesday during study hall. I wrote the sports, and I used every cliché you can think of in those stories, but students loved reading them, or perhaps the chemical high from sniffing the duplicating ink, and I got a glimpse, at least, of the positive effects of a student newspaper on a school.

Every school had one then, no matter how small — so why not now? What happened? When I visit schools in my region, I usually find a yearbook class, but no newspaper or broadcast class. Of course, the reasons vary, but I’m convinced that if administrators can understand the value of student journalism, they will support a program. With the computer, cost and time have exponentially decreased from the days of typing on a waxed stencil. With the resources JEA offers, advisers, students and administrators can all access an education that will help them strongly manifest First Amendment rights in their schools and communities.

As Regional Director then, I know I would start by encouraging state directors to first survey all their schools to create a database of names and journalism programs, and then have regional representatives contact each school to begin the process of encouraging and helping administrators and teachers in their areas. Each state needs to contact administrative organizations to offer workshops at their conferences or districts. Scholastic journalism needs to be perceived as important as chemistry, and I believe it’s JEA’s job, one I would be proud to assume.

Region 2, Southwest

Ellen Austin

Ellen Austin, CJE, teaches journalism and AP English at Palo Alto High School in California, where she also advises The Viking sports magazine and co-advises InFocus, the broadcast program. She has served as JEA’s regional director for the southwest region since 2009, and is a JEA (Northern California) board member. Austin also chairs the Student Press Law Center’s advisory council steering committee.

In 2007, Austin and her students created the first scholastic all-sports newsmagazine.The Viking’s writing, photography, and design work has consistently received state and national recognition and awards, including a Student Journalist Investigative Reporting Award (formerly the Student Journalism Impact Award) for coverage of hazing (2008) and a Ryan White first place award for health reporting (2010). The staff’s goal is pushing the boundaries of sports journalism with both print coverage and online coverage through embrace of “backpack journalism” ideas that lead to up-to-the-minute game coverage through social media, video, and interactive graphics.

Austin holds a B.S. in marketing from the University of Illinois and an M.Ed in English Education from the University of Minnesota. She is a recipient of JEA’s Rising Star Award (2006); an ASNE Fellow (2003); and is an online mentor of journalism education graduate students at Kent State. She has presented sessions and judged publications at state and national conventions, and also has worked as an instructor at summer workshops for NSPA, RENOvation at the University of Nevada, and East Palo Alto.

Outside the classroom, Austin is a professional photographer who has exhibited regionally. She loves traveling the country with Lola, her rescue dog.

Statement of Goals:
Journalism, both professional and scholastic, is in trouble. Longtime news organizations are finding themselves shuttered in alarming numbers; newsroom decimations are almost routine. Our high school programs are facing parallel challenges in reduced support or outright removal of journalism programs. Along with reductions, high school advisers and their staffs also face increasing challenges of prior review and attempts to restrict coverage.

The next few years are pivotal to pushing back against these alarming trends. JEA’s leadership must support and advocate strategic initiatives to re-solidify one of the most important traditions in this nation: freedom of the press.

Three areas of focus in our region over the next three years are the areas of advocacy I will drive forward if re-elected to this office.

First, the seven states of this region need to have more training and support available at the state level. This was the impulse driving the creation of last year’s RENOvation in Nevada, and the reason for my advocacy and creation of the online “jump team” outreach to Hawaii in December.

Second, our region needs to have a more nimble digital presence overall, to connect state members to each other, and to connect our states together. Our members benefit from online expertise and education beyond the traditional convention or summer workshop model, including use of digital tools (YouTube, Skype sessions, social media).

Third, it is imperative that our region, which is seeing waves of retirement of lifetime advisers and leaders in each state, encourage mentorship of new advisers. Insuring a long-lasting legacy of scholastic journalism means: mentoring; providing more systemic support to keep them in the classrooms and keep the programs in their schools; working to provide multiple options to help stabilize and support advisers in schools or programs that struggle; direct outreach to JEA members in each state; and recruitment of advisers who represent a broader band of diversity.

It has been an honor to represent our region for these past two years, and I would continue carrying this momentum forward in our region for another three years.

Carrie Faust

Carrie Faust, MJE, advises the Summit yearbook, Express newspaper and Expressions literary magazine staffs at Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, CO. Her staffs have earned two CSPA Silver Crowns, an NSPA Pacemaker, Gold Medalist and All-American critiques, and many state and local awards. She is currently the Write-offs co-chair for JEA, a member of Scholastic Press Rights Commission, and is the president of the Colorado High School Press Association. She was an ASNE Fellow in 2005, a JEA Rising Star in 2008, and a JEA Distinguished Adviser in 2009. She has a Master Journalism Educator designation from JEA, is currently pursuing her masters in Journalism Education from Kent State University, and speaks at conferences and workshops around the country each year.

Statement of Goals:
I graduated from high school the same year the legislature passed the Colorado Student Free Expression Law. That year, the adults of Colorado stood up to protect the rights of student journalists. My senior-year yearbook reaped the fruits of that labor when our fall-delivery book was called into question because of a “racy” photo featuring a pregnant student belly-to-belly with our star forward.

Since that time, advisers all across America continue to stand up and fight censorship, risking their own financial and employment futures. Sometimes we win those fights; sometimes we lose them. But, we continue to fight them.

Today, we face a new fight.

Many journalism advisers and their students spend the winter months wondering whether there will be room in next year’s schedule for the courses we hold so dear. Every day, our listserv shares the story of another program under scrutiny for economic or academic reasons. Administrators and school boards view journalism as non-essential, without academic merit or “more trouble than it’s worth.”

But we know better. We know that journalism is the key to preparing citizens who are civically engaged, globally thinking and intrinsically motivated. We know that journalism students have better grades in high school, better ACT scores and better college GPAs than their peers. We know that no single curriculum better addresses the needs of the 21st century learner than what goes on in our journalism classrooms.

Our fight is to make sure everyone else knows it.

As the Region 2 Director for JEA, my goal is to make declining programs my priority, advocate to schools and school boards whenever funding is called into question, collaborate with the advisers in our area to build quality journalism programs that are worthy of our efforts and ensure that JEA makes the future of scholastic journalism a priority on our to-do list.

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