2011 board of directors candidate statements

2011 board of directors candidate statements

Multicultural Commission

Javonna Bass

Javonna Bass, CJE, is a former ad hoc board member for JEA. She has taught sophomore English and creative writing, but is currently in her fifth year of advising newspaper and teaching journalism and photojournalism at McKinney Boyd High School in McKinney, Texas.

Statement of Goals:
Multicultural is a term considered by many to be synonymous with race, but it’s so much more. If elected, I will strive to help JEA fulfill the last part of its mission statement to foster “an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity.” I want to help advisers meet and master the challenges associated with not just the culture of race and ethnicity, but also gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. Discussing these issues openly is the first step, but talk, frankly, is cheap. We need to move beyond paying lip service to multiculturalism and instead take clear, solid steps to ensure the journalists of tomorrow reflect the wide and varied American experience. As a former ad hoc board member on the multicultural commission, I know how hard JEA has worked toward its mission and would be honored to represent you as we continue to grow and meet the challenges of an ever-changing media landscape.

Lacey Buidosik

Lacey Buidosik has been teaching high school journalism for six years. She fell into the journalism teaching field when she started teaching at David Starr Jordan in the Watts section of Los Angeles. She decided to start up a school newspaper because she could not imagine her students not having access to one. In her first year her staff was able to put out nine editions with only nine students, and two years later, she took over the school yearbook, adding stories and captions for the first time in almost 10 years. Currently she teaches at Dorsey High School in South Central Los Angeles, where she has taken over the yearbook and is implementing a three year plan to make Dorsey a premier journalism school in the city. This program, which includes reviving a school newspaper, which collapsed five years ago, adding a broadcast program and creating an online newspaper. She was in charge of student scholarships for both the 2008 and 2011 Anaheim conventions and has been on the SCJEA board for three years and is currently serving as secretary. In addition, she teaches at national conventions presenting sessions about starting journalism programs in inner-city schools.

Statement of Goals:
I would like to see a significant increase in the diversity of the schools, students and teachers involved in JEA. When I attended my first convention, I was amazed at how many resources I found and how kind and concerned other teachers were. I value the resources offered, but I fear that there are not enough schools like mine involved in JEA and the conventions. My students commented after the 2008 convention that there were no kids like them there, and I want to remedy that perception. High school journalism provides wonderful opportunities, and the students and their advisers are always so willing to share. Inner-city students are behind the curve in nearly every area we can use to measure. They deal with obstacles that most people cannot even fathom, and while they may try to create outstanding publications, because of circumstances beyond their control, they may not be able to produce a Pacemaker or All-American publication- simply because they cannot wrap their heads around what it takes to do this. While advisers know that computers and software can help, technology is not the only answer. As Diversity Chair, I want to help even more advisers learn from those outstanding leaders we have in JEA. I would like to give each adviser in an inner city school a mentor. I envision a system in which these inner-city schools’ programs are paired with award-winning programs, so each program can learn from the other and grow-not only as journalists, but also as people. As journalism educators, our goal is to teach students to be involved members of society- we want to teach them to think outside the box and help them see a larger world picture. To do that, we need to open their eyes to aspects of life they may never have seen. If we think of things that our students may not be exposed to and discover what we can expose them to by connecting with a school much different from ours- not only would our students, but we would also learn so much. Therefore, if I am elected, I promise to improve our mentoring and outreach to help programs and advisers who do not know how successful they can be in evaluations and contests, or who think they should not attend conventions because they are not good enough. JEA is where we all learn from each other to be better and where everyone can fit in simply because of a love of journalism.

Norma Sumarnap Kneese

Norma Sumarnap Kneese has taught at Snake River High School in Blackfoot, Idaho for 24 years. She advises the yearbook and revived the newspaper after a 10-year silence. She created a Journalistic English class so students could learn journalism and receive English credit. Kneese earned her journalism endorsement, along with her CJE and MJE. She has been an Idaho Journalism Association member for the past 22 years and a board member for 19. She was chosen Idaho Journalism Teacher of the Year in 1997-98. She also received the Medal of Merit Award from JEA in 2003. She was honored as a Special Recognition Adviser by The Dow Jones Newspaper Fund in 2004. She was also awarded the Friend of Idaho State Journalism recognition in 2009. She has taught workshops for ISJA, Jostens, Friesens, Kansas State University, University of Iowa, and South Dakota State University, along with doing sessions at JEA conventions she has attended over the past 19 years. She was one of the original Outreach participants in 1992. Kneese chaired the Outreach program before being elected the Multicultural Commission Chair. She chaired the committee that created the Teacher Inspiration Award. She has also written numerous articles on diversity for the Adviser Update since 2000. She helped establish the Outreach Academy in 2005, which has been very successful in locating and assisting advisers in various areas of journalism. She also helped create the Diversity Award in 2005 that recognizes individuals and groups in the scholastic arena that demonstrate a commitment to cultural awareness and encourage a multicultural approach with its staff, production, and/or community. Recently, she initiated a process to create a workshop to help Hawaii advisers.

Statement of Goals:
Norma Kneese would like to serve one last term before retiring from teaching in promoting cultural awareness and understanding within each staff, state organization and JEA. She will keep working in the Multicultural Commission and the Outreach Academy to seek more advisers of color, advisers in high minority majority schools, junior high and middle school advisers, and new journalism advisers to participate in bringing students to conventions, to conduct workshops, and to become actively involved with JEA. Since attending her first JEA convention in 1992, the number of minority students and advisers at conventions has increased slowly. Since the creation and revamping of the Outreach Academy, more new and underserved advisers have been reached and introduced to JEA and the Multicultural Commission. Minority student scholarships for the conventions and the Outreach Academy need to be promoted more extensively in each state. Multicultural diversity should become a priority within each staff, and students should be encouraged to openly discuss and write about multicultural issues in their school and community to help change attitudes. JEA and the Multicultural Commission can serve as a resource to students and advisers in fostering respect and acceptance of cultural differences.

Junior High/ Middle School Commission

Wanda Pletcher

Wanda Pletcher teaches junior high English and advises publications in Altoona, Penn. She earned her degrees from Penn State University and has advised student publications for 15 years. Pletcher advises the Maroon and White newspaper and Mixed Media literary magazine. The staffs of both publications have been recognized locally and nationally. Prior to advising the Altoona Junior High publications Pletcher served as adviser for the Blue and White at Roosevelt Junior High School. Both publication staffs work with print and online publication. Pletcher served as president of the Pennsylvania School Press Association from 2005-2008. She also served as newspaper critique chair, membership chair, and convention co-chair during her tenure with PSPA. She has worked with PennCORD and attended The Peter Jennings Institute for Journalists and the Constitution for two years. Pletcher served JEA on the local committee for the Philadelphia convention and is current PA state representative. Wanda was honored by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in 2010 as a recipient of the Gold Key Award.

Statement of Goals:
When I began teaching, I took the job as publication adviser so that I would be hired. It was supposed to be temporary until the current adviser returned from maternity leave. That was 15 years ago, and I am still the newspaper adviser and have begun a literary magazine. Never could I have imagined the huge part this would play in my life.

I am sure many fellow advisers have similar stories. As I struggled to survive as a beginning teacher, I was lucky enough to come in contact with fellow professionals who became my lifeline. The yearly national and state conventions played a huge part in my development as an adviser.

Had it not been for my membership with the Pennsylvania School Press Association and JEA I don’t know that I would have continued to advise the paper. But I did join those organizations, and I did continue. Now I hope to take on a new role as middle school commission chair and continue to help other middle school advisers as others once helped me.

Some of you may know me as a past president of PSPA and the current state JEA representative. In those roles I have tried to reach out to fellow advisers and strengthen student publications and access to resources. My term as PSPA president was not always easy, but I know that PSPA continues to survive and promote scholastic journalism.

Serving as middle school chair would allow me to share with other advisers my passion for this age group and the publications they create. Whether the publication is copied on the school’s copy machine, sent to a local printer, or available on the web, middle school and junior high students are doing great work. When encouraged and provided with education this age group shows an enthusiasm that is second to none.

I relish the opportunity to work with others to continue the programs that have a strong past and also to pursue new ways to communicate and provide resources.

I hope you will give me the chance to serve as middle school commission chair. It is time for middle school advisers to pool resources. It doesn’t matter where we come from, we can all work together to create new opportunities for students and to support each other as we grow JEA membership in our states and promote middle school journalism.

Anita Wertz

Currently the adviser of the newspaper and yearbook programs, and teacher of the journalism classes at Cesar Chavez High School in Stockton, Calif., where I am part of the Communication Technology Small Learning Community.

I have been teaching in the Stockton Unified School District for 28 years. In that time, I have taught English, English as a Second Language, Spanish, beginning journalism, newspaper and yearbook. In high school, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. It is all I ever wanted to do. I love teaching, especially journalism, newspaper and yearbook.

I have advised yearbook and newspaper at the middle school level for 14 years and six years at the high school level.

I believe strongly that junior high/middle school journalism programs are important to the academic and personal growth of young people. It is never too early to teach students to be aware of the world around them, express their opinions and views effectively and efficiently, support the role of press in society, understand the importance of the Constitution, and embrace the First Amendment.

I have served as the JEA Junior High/Middle School Commission Chair for six years. I drafted the Aspiring Young Journalist Award program four years ago because I wanted to recognize at a national level the great scholastic journalism work done by junior high/middle school students. I look forward yearly to the arrival of the portfolios.

As the JEA Junior High/Middle School Commission Chair, I plan the Middle Madness Session that kicks off the Middle School Strand of session for each convention. Other members of the Commission also assist with the session. We coordinate ideas and via e-mail (and even Facebook) in the weeks before convention.

The job of Junior High/Middle School Commission Chair is more than attending national conventions. It involves creating a strand of sessions recommended for middle school journalists, evaluating the Aspiring Young Journalist Award portfolios and presenting the award at the spring convention, moderating and judging write-offs at conventions, presenting sessions, and meeting with junior high/middle school advisers.

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