JEA election guide 2017: Meet your candidates
Index of Candidates
Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Directors at large
The three directors will each come from a different geographic area to ensure more diversity, but all JEA members will vote for ALL directors-at-large, and the three who are elected will represent and communication with ALL members.
From the east
From the west
Sarah Nichols, MJE
Sarah Nichols, MJE, teaches journalism and advises Whitney High Student Media, a comprehensive media program at Whitney High School in Rocklin, California. She serves as JEA’s vice president and is a member of its Scholastic Press Rights and Digital Media committees. In addition, Nichols coordinates the JEA Curriculum Initiative and the organization’s social media. She developed the JEA/NSPA Adviser Outreach Program (2015) and served on a team of teacher-trainers for the program’s pilot in 2016. Previously she served on the Certification Committee (2008-2011) and as California’s state director (2009-2011).
Nichols’ background in scholastic media began in high school as a yearbook editor, attending JEA/NSPA national conventions as a student. She earned a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University and an M.Ed. from Indiana Wesleyan University as well as CJE (2002) and MJE (2006) from JEA. Most recently, Nichols completed requirements for her Career and Technical Education credential (2016). She teaches for Kent State University’s online master’s program in scholastic journalism and co-authored a yearbook advising text for Jostens Publishing. She evaluates publications for NSPA, CSPA, SIPA, ILPC, IHSPA and VHSL and enjoys teaching at summer journalism workshops.
In California, Nichols is a board member and past president for the Journalism Education Association of Northern California (JEANC), serving since 2005 to coordinate conventions, contests and outreach. She previously served on the California Journalism Educators Coalition (Cal-JEC) and was named its Teacher of the Year in 2011. Her early advising years took place at Danville (Indiana) Community High School, during which time she served as a board member for the Indiana High School Press Association.
Nichols has been honored with JEA’s Carl Towley Award, Medal of Merit and National Yearbook Adviser of the Year Award as well as the NSPA Pioneer Award and CSPA Gold Key.
Why I want to serve
There’s more to do.
That’s the simplest way to explain my candidacy for JEA’s president.
Journalism — both its fundamental tenets and the learning experiences it creates for students reporting for their school communities — is essential. Scholastic media programs give students voice, empower them to raise questions and hold others accountable, and create dynamic, student-centered learning experiences. The journalism classroom is everything 21st-century education should be.
Except in some places, it isn’t.
From censorship and restraints on student publications to inadequate funding, insufficient teacher training and general lack of support, journalism programs are under attack.
Teachers need us. Students need us. Schools and communities need us. And many of them don’t even know about us.
JEA leaders at every level have spent 92 years making great strides to combat these challenges, but there’s more to do. I would be honored to serve JEA as its president and continue those important efforts.
I am humbled by the opportunity to contribute to our profession and to an organization that has made me better. I believe in paying forward — and sideways, and back and forth — to create opportunities for other teachers, students and volunteer leaders.
I like asking questions. And I love listening and learning to understand, the most important process for any leader.
From my mentors I have learned the importance of planning for the worst-case scenario while having complete faith in the best-case scenario. I have learned that the unpopular response of saying no is sometimes an essential responsibility, and I have learned the benefits of saying yes when no one else will.
And from each project, committee, initiative, program and experience I have learned that nothing is more important than the people we serve with and the teachers and students we serve together.
One Saturday in May 2011, I spent the better part of an afternoon sticking Post-it notes to the wall of a stuffy meeting room at the Sheraton Downtown Denver for a brainstorming activity I led for the then-new JEA board of directors. My intention was to facilitate discussion about core values to give our new team purpose and direction. After spirited debate, we arrived at the five core values posted today at JEA.org: pedagogy, advocacy, innovation, community and excellence.
In the time since, I’ve been part of hundreds of JEA-related conversations and decisions. It has been a challenging, awesome, humbling experience, and those core values have remained at the forefront. My tenure has included the coming and going of multiple programs, possible headquarters relocation, board restructure, bylaw changes, new partnerships, curriculum initiative, interim and permanent director search, contract negotiations, budget cuts and more.
Here’s what I learned: (1) JEA is an incredible organization doing smart, meaningful things through tireless dedication from its volunteers, staff, leaders and members; and (2) we’re not done.
In a broad sense, my goals include empowering others to share ideas, get involved and pursue their vision for meaningful contributions to scholastic media education. At the earliest opportunity, I will work with our new director to facilitate an evaluation of all JEA programs so our team can take a close look at what works and what doesn’t before we consider what might.
I love to say yes, but I am not afraid to say no. The role of president requires both.
Specifically, it is my responsibility to protect the organization for the long term, keeping us in the best possible financial position while we pursue new revenue sources, grant opportunities and partnerships.
I believe JEA must continue its efforts in the New Voices movement and strengthen our role in making press rights legislation and free expression status a reality nationwide.
Pedagogy must remain a priority, from enhancing and promoting our curriculum initiative to aligning best instructional practices with our college counterparts, seeking input from our partners at the Society of Professional Journalists and leveraging our position with the National Council of Teachers of English to show educational leaders that scholastic journalism is the best possible way to teach language arts, literacy and digital media skills while increasing civic engagement and career-readiness. We also need to expand our role in Career and Technical Education, and we will. Our partnership with Business Professionals of America is a great start.
Our advocacy efforts must convince stakeholders at every level, through published articles, personal relationships, lobbying, attendance at conferences and by all means possible, that every school in America needs a strong journalism program with student-led publications and a well-trained adviser.
We must cast a wide net to observe and explore convention models, finding ways to grow, cut costs or reimagine the role this plays in our budget. I support innovation in every aspect of what we do and how.
I’m proud to be part of the JEA community. Our members share suggestions and encouragement on a daily basis to teachers they may never meet face-to-face. We need to strengthen our PLC model and make every journalism teacher and media adviser aware of what we offer in terms of support, mentoring and ways to participate. I will continue outreach to underserved and diverse populations and will push our team to create opportunities for members to connect outside of national conventions.
I will work to get more people involved as leaders, but perhaps more importantly, I will help us be more inclusive. In Indianapolis I watched an adviser walk into the Saturday luncheon and immediately walk back out, offering me her ticket for anyone who needed it. She didn’t have anyone to sit with and said she didn’t feel comfortable. THAT is something we can and will improve. I promise to do my part. And I will push each of you to do yours.
Excellence matters in all we do. It’s a highlight to honor work well done, and I will do so at every opportunity. I will demonstrate attention to detail and will support and empower each committee chair and project leader to continue the excellent work underway.
As your president, I will embrace possibility.
I will show up.
I will listen.
I will ask a lot of questions — a LOT.
I will make data-driven decisions but also will trust my gut and follow my heart. And always, I will lead our team to do what’s best for kids.
Val Kibler, CJE
Val Kibler, CJE, teaches at Harrisonburg (Virginia) High School, where she has advised the print and online newspaper for 19 years. Previously, she taught for 10 years at Marion (Virginia) Senior High School, where she began her advising career. She earned her undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in 1988 and her graduate degree in journalism education from Kent State University in 2014. Kibler currently teaches the Advising Student Media course for Kent State’s online program. She was the local chair for the 2009 and 2014 JEA/NSPA conventions in Washington, D.C. She is the JEA state director for Virginia and treasurer of the Virginia Association of Journalism Teachers and Advisers, a group that she served as director for six years. She also has served as a board member for National Scholastic Press Association for the past three years. Kibler helped begin jCamp and jDay in Virginia and helped found the JEA/NSPA partnership outreach program to reach underserved regions of the country. She was named the 2010 Dow Jones News Fund’s National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year and has received the Pioneer Award from NSPA, Medal of Merit from JEA, the Gold Key Award from CSPA, SIPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and VAJTA’s Thomas Jefferson Award. In the past, Kibler has developed and taught a leadership class curriculum for two different high schools and currently serves as the leadership module leader for the JEA Curriculum Initiative. In addition to teaching AP English Language, she also has sponsored the student council for more than 20 years.
Why I want to serve
I love working as a part of a collaborative team whose purpose is to advance scholastic journalism in our country. I began my advising career knowing absolutely nothing about advising a newspaper, and leaders in JEA and other journalism groups became role models for me. There are lots of advisers out there just like I was 25 years ago who need our help. It’s important that JEA connect with these advisers and make it our mission to serve those teachers, keeping them in the advising realm for a longer period of time. I want to help make connections between high school and collegiate media programs as well as a stronger connection with members of the professional press. I’d like to see more involvement in JEA by advisers of all experience levels. I’d like to see the growth of the JEA/NSPA partnership project outreach model that could expand into all states. As vice president, I would deal specifically with state directors. I’d love to see more collaboration among adjoining states and more connectivity/communication between directors. I can help facilitate commonality and collaboration between states in this position.
Having worked with the JEA curriculum as a module leader since its inception, I firmly believe this collection of lesson plans and resources is one of the best benefits of JEA membership. Moving forward, the curriculum needs to be a living document, changing with the journalism landscape in this country. One of my goals as a board member will be to highlight the curriculum and its updates as well as develop a marketing strategy that helps promote one of our greatest strengths to all members.
We need to build on the momentum of the New Voices movement begun in several states. I’d like to partner with SPLC to try to spread this momentum around more of the country. We need to foster connections with local/state governments in all states. One goal of mine would be to form stronger working partnerships with principals’ associations on the state and national levels. Working to promote a free and responsible student press should be one of our consistent priorities.
The crux of what we do as journalists remains constant. We teach kids how to tell stories, but we have to adapt with the different vehicles for storytelling that come with ever-changing technologies. As the leader in our field, we need to guide our members through that changing landscape. We need to constantly evaluate our programs/initiatives and add new initiatives or drop ones that are no longer effective. It’s important that we’re all open to new, innovative ideas. I’d like to explore our convention model and introduce new concepts that would involve more participatory journalism activities. I’d like to explore our budget and introduce programming that is fiscally responsible and helps us remain financially healthy. I’ve represented JEA at both the Business Professionals of America and National Council of Teachers of English conventions. It’s important that we continue to grow these partnerships and find ways to connect with other organizations that have mutual interests.
As journalism educators, we have a closely knit community. In our classrooms, we have the same types of communities growing every year. Relationships we forge last a long time. The essence of our job as journalism educators is to foster the sense of community in our schools, our towns, our states and our country. It’s my goal to make sure that we educate the teachers, administrators, school boards, local, state and national government leaders about what we do and the citizens that we’re producing. I’d like to see us grow our community of scholastic journalists in our states and across the country by fostering a sister school system that would encourage collaboration among students and advisers more in depth throughout the year.
The student journalist of the year competition is one of our premiere ways of highlighting amazing scholastic journalists across the country. One of my goals would be to increase participation in this competition in each state and to increase the number of states who submit a candidate for the national competition. We do a superb job of recognizing journalism educators and administrators on a national level. I’d like to see that same level of recognition happening in each state so that we might bring more attention to supporters of scholastic journalism on local and state levels.
Scholastic Press Rights Committee
Lori Keekley, MJE
Lori Keekley, MJE, teaches at St. Louis Park (Minnesota) High School where she has advised the Echo online and print for 14 years. Previous to teaching at St. Louis Park, Keekley taught one year and advised the middle school newspaper at Plymouth (Minnesota) Middle School and three years at Portage (Indiana) High School. Keekley also served as the National Scholastic Press Association’s National Contest and Critiques director from 1998-2000. Keekley received her undergraduate degree from Indiana University and master’s degree from the University of Missouri.
She was named the 2016 Dow Jones News Fund News Adviser of the Year, the Minnesota Journalism Adviser of the Year (2010) and a NSPA Pioneer recipient (2012). Keekley served as one of the three original members of the joint JEA/NSPA Outreach team and has been the law and ethics curriculum module leader since it began. She also has been a member of Kent State’s Center for Scholastic Journalism’s board for the last three years and has worked on Minnesota’s New Voices campaign.
Keekley has served on the JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee for 10 years. During this time, she has answered multiple news Panic Button requests and coordinated Constitution Day activities. As part of the committee, she has also worked on Quill and Scroll’s “Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism” and helped create the SPRC’s Foundations Package. She helps moderate the Making a Difference Campaign. She speaks on the state and national levels about legal, ethical, coverage and leadership topics. Her students have won awards at the state and national levels.
Why I want to serve
I became involved in SPRC because I wanted to become more involved in JEA and give back to the organization and community from which I have learned so much. I have enthusiastically participated on the committee and believe in the missions of SPRC and JEA.
I am passionate about the First Amendment and its application to student journalism. During my time on SPRC, I have been able to combine my love for empowering teachers and students with my passion for scholastic press rights. While on JEA’s SPRC, my work with the Panic Button, Constitution Day and convention sessions has furthered my commitment to help advisers and students who face censorship issues and content questions. I want to continue to push forward SPRC’s current mission of supporting and educating students, teachers and administrators.
During my time on SPRC, it has been an honor to help students and advisers with legal and ethical issues. I am ready to take on this leadership role and help empower others.
Continue to provide content through Constitution Day, as well as highlight items in the JEA curriculum and lessons on the SPRC site. We’ve also seen a need to develop or show exemplars for policies and guidelines. I plan to continue to build upon the Foundations Package and help student media improve their own policies and guidelines. Additionally, as more states (hopefully) pass New Voices legislation, we will need to continue to develop educational supports to help administrators, teachers and students understand the new laws. I’d also like to continue the blog posts since they often raise important timely issues.
We know a need exists to continue to support students and advisers who are undergoing either blatant censorship administrative attempts or self-censorship. We must keep supporting those submitting Panic Button requests and promote how people can access help through social media as well.
We must be flexible and look at what is needed from our members. In addition to helping advisers and students educate administrators about new laws, we can continue to highlight some of the resources already present through social media. Additionally, by further implementing the Making a Difference campaign, we should be able to show what can be done to make a difference in our schools and communities. These can help advisers show students what they can do as well.
We have a wonderful, supportive community already. I’d like to see even more people belong to this group. By helping promote the organization, we can reach out and help others. SPRC can continue to build this community through its help and support of advisers and students.
By continuing to support and drive schools to apply for the First Amendment Press Freedom Award, we can reward schools and communities who promote the First Amendment. We can also provide coverage exemplars and model high standards through the Making a Difference Campaign.
Erin Coggins, MJE
Erin Coggins, MJE, began her journalism career working as a promotional writer for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, after graduating with a public relations degree from The University of Alabama. After four years working in the public relations and media field, Coggins took a job teaching journalism at Sparkman High School in Harvest, Alabama. She has been advising The Crimson Crier newspaper, The Senator yearbook, and The Crimson Crier online for the past 15 years. Besides a B.A. in public relations, Coggins has a master’s degree in secondary language arts, guidance counseling, and an Ed.S. in curriculum and instruction. She has been recognized as Alabama’s High School Journalism Adviser of the Year five times, Dow Jones News Fund Special Recognition and Distinguished Adviser, and has a Gold Key from Columbia Scholastic Press Association. She coordinates public relations activities at Sparkman High School and has worked as a freelance writer for various weekly newspapers in her area. She judges for NSPA, CSPA, South Carolina, Florida, Kansas and for the Family Travel Forum. Coggins is married to Jamie Coggins, the head basketball coach at Sparkman, and the two are parents to four-legged babies, Chesney and Marley. The two love to travel to St. John in the USVI, attend sporting events like Golden State basketball games and Alabama football games.
Why I want to serve
Since becoming a journalism adviser 15 years ago, I have had the desire to become a leader in the Journalism Education Association. There is not a better way to show students how to become leaders in the newsroom than to model for them what a leader can do for the field of journalism. I have always been an overachiever and a go-getter and serving JEA and the wonderful journalism teachers around the country is somewhere I can excel.
I never wanted to be a teacher, but when a journalism position was offered to me 15 years ago, I accepted. My journey in scholastic journalism has been nothing but positive. It’s been an ohana (family) for me. I owe that to mentors and the leaders in scholastic journalism. I think it is time for me to be able to step up in JEA and give back to those who are just like I was 15 years ago.
I also think JEA needs some new voices. Progress is not made when the same people are always the voice. It’s just like journalism when people who are all the same are reporting the news, they are all reporting the same news and sometimes news needs to be reported with a different perspective. I feel that JEA is a progressive organization and opening up the organization to new voices and talents can only bring new ideas that can make JEA even better.
Being from the South, I see the lack of a Southern voice on the JEA board. Because currently there are fewer Southern schools actively involved in JEA, a Southern voice on the board will provide a bridge between JEA and growing the organization in a region needing to prepare future journalists.
It is JEA’s mission to support 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. I, Erin Coggins, know that I have benefited from some of these words as a JEA member and that as a potential board member I could help countless others benefit as well.
The majority of JEA’s members are classroom teachers. As a classroom teacher myself, I understand the issues that are facing both students and teachers in today’s classroom. Borrowing from my history teacher vocabulary, “you can say we are in the trenches together.” I understand Common Core and state standards from first-hand experience with it; and as the Educational Initiatives director, I will lobby for those states that do not have defined state standards in place to get them in place. This is the first foundation all advisers need to be successful.
Teaching is a passion for me. There is just something about helping others gain knowledge in a variety of ways, settings, etc. that brings out the best in me. Scholastic advisers are lifelong learners, we are students of journalistic education, therefore, as Educational Initiatives director I will dedicate myself to ensuring that all advisers, whether their programs are top winners or beginning programs, have the level of help to grow their programs through JEA’s education initiative. The goal of all organizations is to grow — grow membership, outreach and monetarily. We can do that by extending our educational initiatives to those who are not already involved. There are areas of our country that JEA has not actively gone after to recruit for membership. If we can provide educational opportunities to those areas and focus on those advisers and students who need us most, then we can further the reach of journalistic education and grow our wonderful association at the same time.
Having worked for the federal government as a promotional and educational writer for NASA, I understand the importance of networking with government agencies. Huntsville, Alabama, is a gem for government contracts, including NASA, Department of Defense, Army Intelligence. We are a city full of engineers and tech-savvy professionals. They understand the need for the skills of a journalist. As journalism advisers we sometimes forget that only a fraction of our students will go on to major in journalism. We need to partner with organizations like NASA to show that we are teaching our students 21st century skills. Wouldn’t it be awesome for an organization like NASA to teach a workshop on how they use a variety of communication skills at the next national convention? We must bridge the gap between STEM education and what we do in our newsrooms. We must begin to think outside the box and broaden our voice. Education is the key to that.
Of course, the things I have mentioned cannot be done without a clear communications strategy. My background in public relations, will be beneficial in working with the other board members to execute a communications strategy that keeps JEA at the forefront of educational policy. We must extend our reach to be viable in every state.
Lastly, I am most looking forward to fulfilling the last duty of the Educational Initiatives director — offer advice and input to school authorities at district/state/national levels on maintaining and promoting successful student media. Every student who desires to participate in scholastic journalism in every district and in every state in our country should be our main focus when discussing spreading education initiatives. Some of these areas do not know how to even begin starting programs. This will be my greatest duty as Educational Initiatives director, ensuring that JEA fosters an atmosphere that welcomes all and serves all, despite their location, funds, or awards. This will be the JEA I love. This will be the JEA I will serve.
Megan Fromm, CJE
Megan Fromm, CJE, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of mass communication at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, Colorado. She has served on the board of directors as JEA’s Educational Initiatives director since 2014. Fromm is a former journalist and high school publications advisers. Currently, she advises CMU’s student magazine, Horizon. Fromm has served as a JEA curriculum leader for both the news literacy and news gathering modules and is also on the Scholastic Press Rights Committee. She is a faculty member for the Salzburg Academy on Media & Global Change, a summer study abroad program that empowers students to use the media for civic and social good. Fromm received her doctorate from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism in 2010, and her research area focused on how the news media cover student First Amendment cases. She is an avid defender of scholastic press rights and was awarded the Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine Award in 2004 and the Colorado Friend of the First Amendment Award in 2005. Most recently, Fromm co-wrote the textbook “Student Journalism and Media Literacy” with veteran student media advisers Aaron Manfull and H.L. Hall. Fromm regularly travels to teach workshops and support journalism advisers in any way possible. She frequently writes about journalism education and media literacy, and her work has been published in academic journals, edited volumes, trade press and online through venues including the Huffington Post and PBS’s MediaShift. Perhaps most importantly, she loves cats and Bruce Springsteen.
Why I want to serve
When I began my first term on JEA’s board of directors in 2014, I was overwhelmed by both the passion of those on my new team and the work ahead of us.
Now, as my first term comes to a close, I’m in a better position than ever to continue serving. What began as a slow process to refine and embrace this then-new board position is now a core part of who I am and the work I pursue every day. As advisers, we know it can take a few years in a new position to make our staff and a program “ours,” and my momentum in this position is finally reaching critical mass.
I ran for the board three years ago because I wanted to give back to an organization that has supported me, encouraged me and made it possible to succeed in a profession I love so dearly. In three short years, I have only just begun to return the favor. Let me do more.
Now more than ever, I see clearly the path before us — the connections to strengthen, the positions to articulate, the programs to create and the friendships to enjoy. I see this critical moment in JEA’s history, as we appoint a new director who will shape our future, and I know without a doubt my experience and vision can help to keep our foundation strong and our goals lofty.
I would be honored to once again serve you, our exemplary membership, and I would be humbled by the opportunity to act as a steward for the future of our organization. The stakes are so high, and a world without scholastic journalism is simply not an option. With three years of service under my belt, I’m ready to rise to whatever challenges lie ahead.
On my office wall hangs a quote from Edwin Land, creator of Polaroid: “Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.”
I first saw this quote during a JEA Advisers Institute in Las Vegas. On a late-night stroll through the Polaroid shop with other advisers, the command — posted inside the store — stopped me in my tracks. Those words spoke so clearly to what being a journalism teacher means to me, and they captured the struggle of what we strive to do with our students and within JEA.
What’s more, these words remind me every day that yes, teaching, advising and advocating is supposed to be hard. And yes, the effort to spread the gospel of journalism education is worth every moment I can give. Here are my goals for doing just that:
Continue to put teachers first
JEA is a teacher association, first and foremost. With that in mind, our vision for pedagogy must continue to support advisers at every step of the way. More concretely, this means expanding opportunities to train and network with educators, especially those in underserved populations and geographic regions. Everything we do should better advisers, elevate the role of the journalism teacher and empower the unique skills we bring to the classroom.
Better articulate our message
To that end, we should focus our advocacy efforts on articulating a more efficient, compelling message: The future of our country depends on citizens who both value and can create quality journalism. We have seen first-hand what the decline of responsible journalism and the absence of news literacy from the classroom has wrought: a citizenry that neither recognizes nor demands factual, contextual news.
We must make the case, in no uncertain terms, that the habits of the uninformed masses can be mitigated by quality journalism education. There is no other way, and we should continue to shout it from the rooftops.
Widen the leadership circle
With that goal in mind, let’s look for new places to stand and deliver on these promises and recruit new voices to be heard. At our conventions, I see innovative and energetic advisers finding new ways to create allies in our fight. Their passion for our work, belief in the mission and creative approach are bringing more advisers and advocates into the fold. In my time on the board, I would specifically work to widen our leadership circle, welcoming those with unique approaches and a desire to serve.
We have room for all kinds in JEA, and we should continue to seek out inspiration and innovation across our membership to create a more welcoming, robust community.
As a board member, I have received feedback about how JEA can feel more inclusive and serve advisers who feel like they are on the fringe of our organization. There is no feedback I take more seriously than that which could help foster a greater sense of teamwork and representation.
Establishing new partnerships
Building community also means establishing stronger partnerships that benefit JEA. Specifically, I think we need to improve our relationships with college media and professional media associations. I would like to see JEA pursue more tailored programmatic partnerships with AEJMC, SPJ, ACP and CMA.
Let’s streamline the connection between high school and university student media. Let’s create more consistent dialogue about who is teaching what at all levels and how educators can help each other.
Let’s connect college professors to high school teachers in each state, building a web of support and a new kind of professional learning community.
Let’s more vigorously recruit professional media to be advocates for our position and to be inspirations for our students.
I believe we should aim high and re-imagine everything from convention models to advisers institute. However, exploring new partnerships — including funding and programming models — requires we prioritize JEA’s financial stability and only make decisions that will continue to ensure a long-lasting, viable organization.
Finally, I am deeply invested in finding more ways to honor those who excel at their craft, those who represent JEA’s values and those who put students first. Not every success needs to come with a plaque, but let’s double-down on the small gestures of thanks and acknowledgment for those who go above and beyond. I believe our members represent the most committed and engaged educators in the world, and as a board member, I will be honored to recognize your contributions and excellence as often as possible.
Kate Klonowski, MJE
Kate Klonowski, MJE, is a proud lifetime JEA member from Cleveland, Ohio, and currently serves as vice president of the Ohio Scholastic Media Association. Klonowski has spent the better part of 15 years advising high school student publications (including newspapers, literary magazines, news magazines and a yearbook) in a variety of schools both public and private. She specializes in initiating and rebooting programs including piloting a program in which schools work together to start and/or strengthen their journalism programs. As a high school journalist herself, she has never forgotten the importance of developing and fostering student voice in the process of becoming a conscientious and critically-minded adult.
This past year, Klonowski earned her MJE by presenting her research on the pilot program between two schools in which she served as coordinator, moderator and researcher. As a result, many schools have followed suit and have developed innovative partnerships with other journalism programs to create new sources for student voice.
In addition to her advising work, Klonowski is a Ph.D. candidate in cultural foundations at Kent State University. Her dissertation research involves a collaborative, youth participatory action research project with her students in the journalism production program at Cleveland School of the Arts in Cleveland. Guided by the question of what democratic education in the process of media production looks like, student and administrative participants are working together to address issues of power and democracy in their unique educational setting and how it might transfer to other programs to examine the dynamics between students, advisers and administrators and the implications for the development of student voice.
Klonowski is an advocate for education that fosters positive, productive and impactful experiences for student journalists.
Why I want to serve
I would like to serve in the position of Educational Initiatives director because I bring a diverse body of experience which will broaden and strengthen JEA’s educational mission in a meaningful and productive way.
Since I have experience as a teacher in a number of fields (years as a substitute early in my teaching career was very enlightening) and in a variety of populations (from prisons to private schools; elementary to university; homes to boardrooms), I feel uniquely qualified to navigate the institutions we collaborate with. As a Ph.D. candidate in cultural foundations with a focus on media and democracy, I also engage heavily in studies and research which are grounded in pragmatism but challenge and critique the current educational climate.
It is not always easy to justify the importance, significance and validity of our professional practice to those outside our fortress of fierce scholastic journalism advocates. In order to do this, we must be willing to keep our relationships and collaborations as unbiased — just as we teach our student journalists to be. Understanding the bottom line for all those we hope to engage is crucial to our success. If we are creative, steadfast and unwavering in the face of those who contend student journalism is irrelevant, our efforts will reward not only the JEA, but the future of our entire society.
It is necessary for our organization to elect passionate volunteers who are experienced teachers, scholars and leaders. I represent these qualities and feel confident that with the continued support of the JEA membership, we can keep moving forward with the progress that has been made and build on it to strengthen our mission — particularly the preservation of our diversity while striving for unity.
My goals as the Educational Initiatives director all involve making sure that what has worked well in the past and continues to work well now be preserved. There is no sense in reinventing what is functional and productive. However, I do not believe in “final drafts,” as there is always room for improvement.
We will need to continue our strong advocacy in the area of pedagogy. Much good work has been collected and curated from many extraordinary teachers of scholastic journalism. We will do well to continue this curation while critically assessing what should be re-examined, revamped or removed altogether to make room for as much relevant and easily-navigable curriculum for our advisers as possible. Assuring other educators, administrators, board and community members and families of the rigor of our practice is a vital part of what we must continue to reinforce. Making sure that educational and media agencies on the local community, state and national levels understand and appreciate the cross-curricular and critical nature of what we teach is of vital importance as well. What we teach is never limited to a certain type of student with any particular life-long ambition. We teach the intangible. We teach the values that encompass both the information we consume and the information we create. The implications of what we teach transcends testing and other forms of quantification — but whatever needs to be done to promote understanding between those who legislate and those who educate will be the focus of our efforts.
We will need to continue to support our advisers across the country in working with their communities (both in and out of school) to protect the voices of our students. We can do this by making sure our advisers continue to teach ethical practices to our student journalists. We can encourage relationships in our institutions that promote free speech and quality reporting by building trust and empowering students to question authority while still respecting them. We must continue to teach media literacy and remind ourselves of the importance of being accountable in both our consumption and production of news. We are obligated to remind our communities (schools, cities, and beyond) that journalism’s role is not to be vilified, but encouraged as part of our ongoing dialog. To discredit journalism education is to undermine the most critical aspects of our democratic participation.
In order to achieve greater things, we must be willing to make greater efforts to confront barriers to journalism education and promote access for more students. We can do this by refusing to dismiss ideas out of hand that may seem too ambitious. The importance of scholastic journalism education cannot be overstated. If we wish to be innovators, we must not be afraid to be better every day and take every challenge in stride as we work together to strengthen our organization and network of support.
Directors at large – east
Karen Collier, CJE
Karen Collier, CJE, Ed.D., is a veteran publications adviser, with 14 years of yearbook experience and four years of newspaper experience. Her students’ publications have earned awards for excellence in photography and Overall Best in Class at publishers’ workshops. At her previous school, she established a newspaper program and had the publication work added as a class within the school day. At her current school, Veterans High School in Kathleen, Georgia, she turned around a financially insecure program with little emphasis on writing, photography or design. With degrees in English education (B.S.Ed. and M.Ed.) and curriculum studies (Ed.D.), she is well-versed in writing and in how journalism courses fit into the Common Core curriculum. Her educational research has been published in academic textbooks, and she has presented adviser sessions at multiple NSPA/JEA conventions.
Why I want to serve
I first started advising yearbooks because it was an expectation for a new teaching position. I truly learned about student publications and my role as adviser as I worked through that first year. Since then, in my 14 years of experience, I’ve come to love the creative process and the hands-on skills students take from these courses/staff positions. I have learned how to push my students toward award-winning publications through my attendance at numerous JEA/NSPA conventions. Because of these experiences, I want to be part of JEA leadership, to help new advisers learn the process, to help veteran advisers keep their work fresh, to help educate school administrators about the role of journalism in schools, and to aid in always giving students a voice in schools.
Teaching journalism is an art form. Indeed, the pedagogy involved in a journalism classroom is based in hands-on experience, training the students to create the end product with integrity. Over 14 years of advising, I have honed this process, and would like to share what has worked for me with other advisers — in the form of weekly tips, lesson plans, etc. These teaching strategies are closely aligned to the ideas of excellence and innovation in journalism. As students learn the craft of interviews, layouts, photography, writing, etc., they can hone their skills from the basic rudimentary process to creating truly innovative publications. I always love to hear the ideas my students have, even if they may seem farfetched at first. Giving students this freedom results in unique, incredible products. Though I have been quite fortunate in the schools where I’ve worked, I know that many advisers struggle to get support from administrators (or parents or other teachers); this is why advocacy is so important for journalism educators. We have to advocate for our students to be able to learn and create, but we also have to advocate for ourselves, asking — even demanding — what we need to enable our students to make stellar publications. I would like to offer advisers some talking points for how to approach administrators and others about the role of student journalism in a school and the needs for a successful program. Lastly, the JEA core value of community is very important. Journalism advisers are frequently alone in their schools with no teachers of similar classes with which to collaborate. I would like to offer a forum for this — in the form of emails, newsletters, smaller Listservs by area, etc. The work we do is hard; we need support and ideas from others who understand our plight.
Joe Humphrey, MJE
Humphrey advises the Red & Black newspaper, Hilsborean yearbook and HHSToday.com online news site at HHS. He also works as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Tampa.
He previously advised TV production and, while not currently advising broadcast, his students frequently produce multimedia work for the website and even the yearbook (a 2017 hybrid CSPA Crown winner). The newspaper also won a hybrid Crown this year, and it has also been a regular finisher in NSPA Best of Show.
Humphrey spent four years as president of the Florida Scholastic Press Association, working closely with the executive board and other volunteers to build membership, transform contests and bolster excitement in the Sunshine State. He is now in his fourth year as FSPA’s evaluations coordinator.
Humphrey attended the University of South Florida and holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communication and a master’s in educational leadership. His own high school yearbook (from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, advised by Anne Whitt) is among his most prized possessions.
At USF, Humphrey spent four years at The Oracle daily newspaper, including one as editor-in-chief. Before teaching, he worked as a newspaper reporter at The Florida Times-Union and Tampa Tribune and interned at the St. Petersburg Times and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk.
He has won multiple awards, including JEA’s Medal of Merit and Rising Star, CSPA’s Paschal Award for service to scholastic journalism and FSPA’s Teacher of the Year and Gold Medallion honors. He was a Dow Jones News Fund Distinguished Adviser in 2010.
Humphrey is a member of the Certification Committee.
He proudly served as local team leader for the 2015 JEA/NSPA fall convention in Orlando.
Why I want to serve
I wasn’t much of a football player growing up. Bad ankles. Lots of running.
But I’ve seen plenty of movies about football, including a particularly bad one called “The Replacements.” In it, Gene Hackman plays coach to a rag-tag bunch of replacement players brought in the keep the league moving during a strike. Shane Falco is the quarterback, played by Keanu Reeves. The Sentinels are driving down the field and Coach wants his quarterback to step up and make a play.
In response to the question of why I want to serve on the JEA board, I offer the wise words of Coach Jimmy McGinty: “Winners always want the ball.”
Winner does seem a tad presumptuous to me, so stay with me as I pivot to instead mean “leader” here. Leaders always want the ball.
I spent four years as leader of the Florida Scholastic Press Association and remain active on the board as evaluations coordinator. I speak at local, state and national conventions. I am a longtime member of the JEA Certification Committee. I was deeply honored to lead the local team for the 2015 JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention. It was a group of more than 20 people from throughout Florida, including teachers, former students, even some of my family members who agreed to help out. One key to being a good leader is convincing a team to work together and achieve a common goal, like we did for that Orlando convention.
It was a tremendous experience. But I’m ready to do more. I’m ready to tackle the next challenge.
I want the ball.
Say what you want about the most recent presidential election – and boy is there so much to say – but one thing worthy of celebrating is that the tent got bigger. More people were engaged in the process, meaning more people at rallies, more people at the ballot box and, oh my, more people chirping on social media.
More involvement really is better. Thus, my first priority as a member of the JEA board would be to make the tent bigger.
We need to get more schools and more advisers involved. We need to get many of our current members more engaged. We certainly need to diversify our membership. I’ve already been active in recruiting new members for JEA, and it’s something I would kick into overdrive if given the honor to serve on the board.
Other goals include the following:
- Play a more active role in curing Hazelwood. I’m fortunate to work for an incredible principal who gets what we do, but I know many of my colleagues are not so lucky, and I want to help make more New Voices bills a reality throughout the nation.
- Boost the JEA curriculum. The educator-driven curriculum is the most significant accomplishment of our organization during my 13 years of being involved. We need to keep it strong and relevant, and get it into the hands of more educators.
- Play an active part in examining our convention model. Lots of people know JEA only for its signature event, the National High School Journalism Conventions held twice a year. As local chair of the Orlando convention, I had a front-row seat to understanding much of what goes into planning that convention and could bring that experience to the boardroom. In discussions with another prospective board member, she described me as someone with “a willingness to see new ways of doing things.” So, what can we do to keep innovating? Are we best served by holding two conventions a year? What programming changes can we make? I am eager to be part of the discussion about what’s best for JEA members and the students we serve.
- Related to above: Be a good caretaker of JEA’s limited funds. Board work isn’t always sexy, but it is important stuff and as we decide how to best spend “our” money. All perspectives need to be considered as we look at seemingly infinite possibilities but face the reality of finite resources.
- Bring the JEA Adviser Institute east. Since I’ve asked about this at pretty much every JEA membership meeting I’ve attended for the past five years, I think I owe it to you to share my desire to have this outstanding summer professional development program rotate out of Las Vegas and come east once in a while. I understand the room costs are attractive there in the middle of July, but airfare is a real hardship for many of us, and it is only fair that we move the event around.
- Continue expanding JEA’s partnerships with groups such as its many sponsors, universities, the National Council of Teachers of English, Business Professionals of America (I’ll be representing JEA at the BPA convention in May 2017) the National Scholastic Press Association and the Society of Professional Journalists, whose new education chairman just so happens to teach here in Tampa. Also, we should explore new partnerships with groups including state press associations, the Student Broadcasting Network and the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.
Finally, after nearly 1,300 words of typing about myself, I offer these two quotes:
From the Greek philosopher Epictetus: “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
From Winston Churchill (by the way, check out “The Crown” on Netflix!): “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. So many of us are the only people in our school who have the first clue about what it’s like to advise a publication, and they belong to JEA because it’s a room of like-minded educators, people who understand their wants and needs, people who will listen. I assure you that’s what a vote for me would earn you: a listener. I want to represent my colleagues with distinction, and make decisions rooted in the best interest of our membership and the students we serve.
Thank you for your consideration.
Directors at large – central
Tom Gayda, MJE
Tom Gayda, MJE, directs student media at North Central High School in Indianapolis and teaches an online mass media course for Ball State University. Having advised for 17 years, Gayda has been honored with such awards as the JEA Medal of Merit, NSPA Pioneer, IHSPA Adviser of the Year, Dow Jones News Fund Distinguished Adviser, JEA Special Recognition Yearbook Adviser, S’Park Media Mentor from Ithaca College, Ball State University Graduate of the Last Decade and Ball State Department of Journalism Young Alumnus. He has attended 41 JEA/NSPA national conventions, including the last 38 in a row where he regularly speaks and judges. Gayda chaired the local committee of the most recent Indianapolis convention. Outside of the classroom he wrote “Scholastic Journalism Leadership,” a book full of tips and suggestions for high school editors. Gayda works closely with his school’s administration and athletic department designing and editing school promotional materials and programs. He has presented at dozens of conferences and summer workshops, mostly discussing design and leadership. Gayda is a former JEA regional director and Curriculum Commission chair. He has previously served the Scholastic Press Rights Committee, as well. Gayda is a former president of the Indiana High School Press Association. While all of this journalism stuff is fun and exciting, Gayda enjoys a life away from the profession, too. He works at or attends dozens of high school athletic events a year and loves to go eat at new restaurants.
Why I want to serve
“Sometimes progress progresses too fast,” the Lorax said. That’s sometimes how I feel about JEA. As the organization has added some new, exciting initiatives, I think an unfortunate, unintentional side affect has been the organization losing some of its identity. What once seemed like the warm family business you enjoyed patronizing slowly morphed into something that’s a tad colder and more corporate.
I’m running for regional director to balance the progress with a respect for the past. I think the board and members need to take a hard look at all JEA programs and determine if they are what best serves our members. With constant changes to the board structure we have lost positions like past president, which takes away important institutional knowledge. These are things I would like to look at more in-depth — perhaps it wiser to have a rotating past president position with a different veteran attending board meetings each convention to preserve a connection to our history.
A smaller board makes it all the more important that we have open dialogue with our members. I want to make sure our members have a voice. I’m not running for myself, I’m running because I want to be an advocate for those who aren’t serving an elected position. Our organization is stronger when our membership is engaged. To that end, I want to look at ways to improve member involvement. I’m disheartened that the same people attend the general membership meetings each convention. I want to see new faces. I also want to look at the membership and find ways to bring in all the talented advisers who aren’t current members.
JEA is a great organization. I look at it as my duty to help preserve its legacy while ensuring we are prepared for the future and ready to address the issues facing out members.
You know, I don’t know if my responses will be considered the most politically correct, however, I’m going to speak from the heart about the organization I am very proud to have been a member of for 20 years.
I think the most important thing to address is community. With a smaller board it is more important than ever to go above-and-beyond when listening to the membership. The organization needs to maintain constant transparency and listen to the membership. There must be ways to connect and get regular feedback.
Our community must expand at conventions. General membership meetings regularly feature the same folks each time. We need to all work together to bring the membership together in meaningful ways. No program or past practice should be considered sacred, everything needs to be evaluated so we find the best ways to serve our membership.
It’s important we continue to develop the available curriculum materials. Adding a member-submitted area could allow for more content and more member involvement. It would be important to have someone serve as a gatekeeper of these materials, but the end result could be a real win-win for JEA members.
JEA has a long history of being innovative. I am excited to work with the organization to continue developing new ways to engage members. What will be the next big thing we can do for each other? More video content? Virtual conventions? Virtual lounges? So many possibilities with our creative membership.
We should also look at all of our various partnerships and determine if they are all beneficial. We need to make sure we put our time and effort into the things that are best for the most.
Ultimately, we need to be an adviser’s friend. How can we make the day-to-day duties of an adviser easier? What do our members need? Ideas to consider are having mentors-on-demand, veteran or retired advisers who make themselves available to take your call on a rotating basis. Or how about our own community where we could post things we are in need of or can part with and make deals with one another? Or a portal to vendors who are good to work with when it comes to all of the things we do outside of teaching and advising? Could the JEA bookstore expand and offer gifts we can get our graduating seniors?
Finally, let’s learn more about each other. The regular “When I’m Not Teaching” is fun and should be expanded. Let’s share our classrooms, our routines and our best practices. Let’s have a social media presence that provides a tip, bell-ringer or idea (or all three) a day.
I am excited about the possibilities ahead. JEA is great and the next board can make certain to maintain that standard and keep moving ahead. I hope to be a part of the next chapter of JEA.
Patrick Johnson, MJE
Patrick R. Johnson, MJE, is an English and media teacher at Antioch (Illinois) Community High School where he advises the award-winning Tom Tom media program. He is also an adjunct instructor in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University, where he teaches digital journalism, visual communication and media writing. Johnson is the director of the Kettle Moraine Press Association’s annual Summer Journalism Workshop. He has served on the KEMPA board for nearly seven years. Additionally, he is a member of the board of trustees for Quill and Scroll International Honor Society for High School Journalists. He was named adviser of the year for KEMPA in 2015, a 2016 Dow Jones News Fund Distinguished Adviser, and a 2015 JEA Rising Star. Johnson presents consistently at national conventions, JEA Advisers Institute and regional scholastic press association conferences. He is also a member of the JEA Digital Media committee.
Why I want to serve
JEA is an organization that has given me so much: connections, curriculum, inspiration, friendships, and more. I’ve had the privilege of being mentored by some of the best and working with so many journalism teachers to create a better version of me and a better version of scholastic journalism. It’s incredibly unoriginal, but I want to serve as the Central Region director because I want to give back to an organization that has given me so much. As the Central Region director I will be able to connect with members on a different level; ultimately, I am able to serve these members better. This is also important for me professionally because it shows a desire to step beyond the confines of my district, state and region. As someone who has served quite diligently in my area, I hope to help enact change and sustain support for the scholastic journalism community. Becoming the JEA Central Region director will allow me to bring my ideas to the national level and continue to support scholastic journalism and the members of JEA.
We, as a nation, are at a crossroads, and JEA has the ability to lead in an abundance of efforts related to activism, democracy, responsibility, leadership and literacy. We have the ability to make a difference in our schools by championing journalism and media education, pushing for it to be recognized fully in our schools as a necessary component to a balanced and viable curriculum. We cannot simply say it is the “new English,” but rather that journalism and media education are the “newest edition to the core,” that what we teach are valuable not only in the immediate, but also to develop a sustainable, democratic society. All five of these efforts are evident in the five core values that ground JEA as an organization and it’s at their intersection where JEA is at its greatest potential.
In journalism we preach conciseness, and that’s exactly what I expect to do here with my “goals” in addressing JEA’s five core values. Any of us can have opinions as to what we want to see “fixed” in the organization. However, for me, I see JEA as one of the most viable programs and experiences I’ve ever been a part of in my professional career. I take pride in my convention badges and presentations. I take pride in having MJE listed behind my name. I take pride in my membership. My ultimately goal is to help our membership continue to be proud of being members of this esteemed organization by continuing to offer resources to them that provide them the support they need to be successful. I want our members to know they’re valuable and matter. I’ve highlighted three main points below, but by no means would these three elements be my only focus. The new board is a team and teams need to come together to decide pathways, plans, measurements and goals. I want to move forward this new team to identify these needs and grow as an organization from them.
To start, I would like to see us develop and execute a needs assessment of our membership to understand what we have, where we are, and what do we want and need moving forward in this next leadership cycle. Data is important and can provide us with an opportunity for our members to reap more benefits from JEA. This needs-based-assessment can and should align to our five core values.
I will obviously continue to support the JEA Curriculum Initiative, an area that has seen tremendous growth and success for our membership. I would like to work intently with the program and the curriculum leaders to continue to develop materials that our members can use daily in their programs. One aspect that I would like to see developed further in this area would be strengthening our support of advising practices and resources for our members who advise extracurricularly.
Lastly, I would like to see us return to supporting our members fully and completely. There is a need for outreach and growth, but there is also a need to recognize what we foundationally are and who we work to support. We need to look at models to improve convention programming and keeping costs manageable so all programs have increased potential to attend, learn and grow. By critically evaluating our current model, we should be able to pay closer attention to our membership needs not just in terms of education, but also in regards to financial and travel support.
Tim Morley, CJE
Sixteen years ago Tim Morley, CJE, volunteered to become the yearbook adviser at Inland Lakes High School in Indian River, Michigan. Over the years, Morley has taken the Nexus yearbook from nothing more than a scrapbook to a state and national award winner. In the process, he earned his master’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University and became state certified to teach journalism. Morley was part of the first group of JEA Rising Stars in 2006 and was honored as a Distinguished Adviser in 2009. After being reassigned for five years, Morley is back advising student media and has grown his program from a single class producing the yearbook to three, including launching a student news website and teaching a dual enrollment class with the local college. With 71 students currently enrolled in journalism in a school of 253, Morley’s program is looking ahead to a strong future.
Why I want to serve
When I was in high school, yearbook class saved me. My mother was dying from breast cancer. Not only was photography my way to escape, but my yearbook adviser spent countless hours after school listening to my concerns. When I became a teacher, my dream was to make that kind of difference for my own students, but with a teaching certification in math and science, journalism was the farthest thing from my mind. So when my principal welcomed a scheduling change I suggested with a new teacher who did not want to teach yearbook, my teaching career changed forever.
Before I started as the adviser, students in our community rarely thought of journalism related fields — writing, design or photography — as career pathways. Yearbook was a scrapbook of the staff’s friends and the popular kids. Now, students report the year in depth while multiple photographers cover events, and graduates return and tell their stories of careers in these fields.
I want to continue to give back to a teaching field that transformed who I am, because I believe I have a unique perspective as an involved adviser at a tiny, rural school. There are thousands of advisers out there who are just getting by, who are assigned a media class because no one else can or will. My message to them is that they are not alone. They are not an island by themselves. They can produce amazing products on a shoestring budget. They can use creative methods to fund their programs. JEA offers the professional learning community they need. As a member of the JEA board of directors it will be my goal to expand JEA’s reach to those teachers.
I wish to serve on the JEA board to further develop how JEA advocates for its core values of pedagogy, advocacy, innovation, community and excellence
As the photojournalism curriculum director for JEA for the past year, I have had first-hand experience developing and organizing journalism curriculum. Personally, this has been a valuable tool as I have developed two new journalism classes at my school. My work on modules has allowed me to examine the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts – Literacy for the first time. Work on photojournalism modules also has allowed me to incorporate mathematics Common Core benchmarks to modules, further demonstrating scholastic journalism’s cross-curricular value.
The 2008 Newspaper Association of America Foundation’s research study on the relationship between high school media and academic achievement showed a strong correlation between students taking a rigorous journalism program in high school and achievement on standardized testing and the early years of college. The skills required to produce good journalism directly correlate to 21st century skills. These include foundational literacies, how students apply core skills to everyday tasks: literacy, numeracy, informational and communication technologies, financial literacy and cultural and civic literacy. Journalism develops students’ abilities to approach complex challenges: critical thinking and problem solving, creativity, communication and collaboration. Good journalism requires students to learn how to approach their changing environment by developing curiosity, initiative, persistence, adaptability, leadership and social and cultural awareness. In a rigorous scholastic journalism program, students practice all of these 21st century skills, which makes journalism an invaluable offering in schools.
It seems that JEA members are most often from larger, urban or suburban schools. Analyzing member’s school size would make an interesting study and may lead to a targeted campaign focused on teachers at smaller schools. JEA needs to be an advocate for teachers who fear they are alone — the teachers who are assigned yearbook class because they are an English or art teacher but who do not have any previous scholastic journalism experience, since 96 percent of schools still have a student journalism offering, according to the Knight Foundation. In my speaking engagements around northern Michigan, I continually tout the usefulness of JEA membership. Fellow advisers have told me that the value of the curriculum alone is worth the membership. Outreach to advisers at smaller schools can only improve our JEA community and the quality of scholastic journalism across the country.
As a founding, but lurking, member of the JEA Digital Media Committee, I have been a bystander at the forefront of digital innovations in scholastic media for over a decade. Due to my position as an adviser at a small, rural school without much of a budget, often with four or five preps, I have found it difficult to stay abreast of the latest technological innovations, so I have not contributed articles to the Digital Media website. I choose to spend the energy and money I can afford on photographic innovation, but I do not think my situation is unique. Advisers from across the country need the resources we offer.
I inherited a program that was a typical small school yearbook, thrown together with little to no attention paid to producing good journalism. Using my experience on an award-winning staff in high school, I started with a five-year plan for revamping the Nexus. By the end of those five years, my staffs had accomplished that rebuilding process, creating a state and nationally recognized publication. I realize that awards are not the primary reason for producing good journalism, but the recognition helps convince administrators to keep the program on the schedule.
In this age of digital revolution, financial cuts and attacks on mainstream media, a robust scholastic journalism program can act as a launching point to a bright future for our students.
Directors at large – west
Tom Kaup, MJE
The Nebraska farm values of simplicity and hard work have stayed with Thomas Kaup, MJE, throughout his life, even though life has taken him far from there. Kaup received a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of St. Thomas, in English, in 1980, a licentiate in sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois, in 1986, and a master’s degree in educational design from Western Governors University in 2013.
Kaup began teaching in 1985 and started advising journalism in 1995. He joined the JEA in 1996 at a summer institute at the University of Missouri and have been a member ever since. He has been a National Board Certified teacher since 2004.
Kaup’s career took him into middle school, where he began to advise yearbook and newspaper at George Russell Middle School in Omaha, Nebraska. While there Kaup was recruited by the Omaha Public Schools to help found a communications magnet school, Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School. During his tenure there, he co-wrote a textbook, “Middle School Journalism,” published by Teaching-Point Inc. of Florida.
After a move to Auburn, Washington, in 2007, Kaup became active in the Washington Journalism Education Association and served on the board of directors for many years as secretary. Kaup is currently the adviser of the Troy InVoice newspaper and Invader yearbook at Auburn High. In 2014 he was named the Washington Journalism teacher of the year, and was honored in 2015 by the Dow Jones News Fund as a Special Recognition Adviser.
Why I want to serve
For 20 years I have had the broad shoulders of the JEA advisers to lean on. I think it is time to step forward and be those broad shoulders for others. I bring a great a range of journalism experience, from advising in a small Catholic high school in Iowa, a wealthy suburban middle school in Omaha, to a premier magnet middle school program in a large urban district. I am now advising in a suburban city that has faced tremendous challenges and changes, in the highest area of poverty in the sparkling technological Emerald City.
I want to be a fearless advocate to increase the visibility and recognition of diverse schools, especially those in areas with high poverty such as mine. I want to reach out to the advisers who may not often speak up, or step ahead to be heard, to find out their unspoken needs and speak them loud and clearly. I want to be the advocate for good change, an advocate for new voices and new directions within the organization at a crucial time in the world of scholastic journalism.
I promise to never utter, nor tolerate, the phrase, “We have always done it that way.” An organization that does not take the hard measures to separate the wheat from the chaff will not grow. With great respect for the traditions of the JEA, I promise to ask the questions, challenge assumptions, and build on the solid foundation to an ever more dynamic and relevant organization for teachers.
It would be an honor to collaborate with the national association and offer my ears and shoulders to all advisers.
The incredible resource of the Curriculum Initiative should be promoted and enhanced with adaptations for journalism programs in a wide variety of schools. From small rural schools, large urban schools, to mega-schools in the suburbs, journalism can and should be taught in a wide spectrum of skills and abilities.
Journalism education must continue to tackle the issue of real vs. fake news, reliable vs. unreliable sources, in an increasingly cacophony of the sensational breaking news syndrome that often disregards the truth. The JEA should continue to be a bold voice for solid, authentic journalism education that can help to stem the tide of rumor and insinuation that continue to masquerade as news.
I pledge to be a tireless advocate for the benefits of journalism education. Finding alumni of solid journalism programs and publicizing their achievements would be another way to promote the value of journalism in schools.
I want to advocate for the unspoken advisers. Those who struggle to keep their programs alive, the ones who fight to publish three newspapers a year, who literally start from the bottom up each year with their staff.
I want to be the voice for the unspoken needs of all advisers who work multitudes of hours maintaining the stellar journalism programs that continue to shine at state and national programs. The organization needs to continue to find ways to bolster advisers in these programs as well, and not take for granted that they will always be there.
Any person can literally publish video, photos or text, regardless of the impact or consequence. The JEA needs to continue to help advisers using cutting-edge methods and technology, to adapt the timeless values of ethical, unbiased and factually based journalism to function in an age of 140 characters or less.
Training advisers in the use of newer technology should continue to be the focus of promoting innovation in journalism classrooms. The JEA itself should evidence through its website and use of social media the best way to adapt news gathering and reporting through new media.
Finding new ways to bring advisers together at national and regional events should be a priority. Participation in virtual meetings using Go to Meeting, Google Hangout or other venues that connect advisers to each other would be a good innovation for the organization.
The greatest strength of the organization are the members, the people who write the emails, post on the Listserv, go to the conventions and meetings, and stay after school until late in the night working with their students. Finding a way to connect these isolated denizens throughout the country not only will strengthen a sense of working together on a common cause, but also help the community of advisers to survive and prosper.
Membership outreach should continue to be a priority. Encouraging current members to personally reach out to the other advisers in their district would be a great first step towards not only building a stronger adviser community, but more membership for the organization.
There must be a way for advisers to not only get together to compete and promote their considerable accomplishments, (which is of course valuable), but also a way to get together to offer support, advice and simply a broad shoulder to lean on. The organization must find new avenues that promote camaraderie.
Excellence can be measured in many ways. Recognizing and celebrating excellence in the craft of journalism, as seen in publications and broadcast, is certainly the main function of a national organization of advisers. Competition excellence is by far the most prevalent measure used in professional organizations, and is as it should be.
However, I will encourage the JEA to also to continue to measure and celebrate excellence in journalism programs in other ways as well. The sheer fact that some programs survive needs to be hailed as excellence. Excellence needs to be hailed in programs that have been in place for over a hundred years, advisers who have stayed in the trenches for their whole career, and those advisers who are always in the background. An A is not the only way to acknowledge excellence.
Matt Rasgorshek is the journalism adviser at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, Nebraska. Rasgorshek started his teaching career at Westside High School in Omaha, where he rebuilt the school’s broadcast program, making it one of the most successful broadcast programs in the country. He also established its online publication, Westside Wired, which has gone on to receive state and national acclaim.
After 14 years at Westside, Rasgorshek decided to take on a new challenge in establishing a journalism program at Creighton Prep. He is currently advising the online, broadcast and yearbook publications.
Rasgorshek has been a key contributor to JEA’s digital media website, jeadigitalmedia.org. He assisted in the startup of the Guide to Broadcast and Video section of the website with a variety of helpful tips. He also started a JEA podcast where he would interview other advisers about best practice, convention tips, etc.
Rasgorshek has been recognized as a Distinguished Broadcast Adviser of the year by the Journalism Education Association as well as as one of the country’s top journalism advisers by the Dow Jones News Fund.
Prior to teaching journalism, Rasgorshek worked behind the camera as a newscast director, producer, videographer and editor in local affiliates in Omaha and Phoenix for more than 10 years. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, running and playing golf.
Why I want to serve
I have been a member of JEA for 14 years now, and it has been an honor to be a member of an association that is so passionate about scholastic journalism and student learning overall. While I have served on various committees and have collaborated with many fellow JEA members, I feel that it is time that I give more back to JEA as a director.
I feel that the role of a JEA director should be flexible and it should also look ahead. I believe that, as an association, we need to be asking each other, “What’s next?” I respect the work that the JEA board has done in the past, and I am very excited for the future of the association. All directors need to be willing to look forward and keep an open mind. My philosophy has always been about what is best for student learning. I believe that this position will allow me the flexibility to explore the “what’s next?” part that can only improve our already strong and vibrant association.
Good journalism is good storytelling. Our job as 21st century advisers is to find the most effective way to tell that story and, with the advancements of technology, we can do that in many exciting ways. I feel that my experience in existing and emerging technologies in the field of journalism can be an asset for the JEA in looking forward. The audience to whom we cater is exceptionally tech savvy and we must tell the story in the most impactful way possible. There is no question that some stories are best told through the pen/keyboard, but we must always be aware of all the available tools in our toolbox.
With the political and societal climates that we are facing, it’s more important than ever for the JEA and its members to be on the forefront of, and advocating for, teaching strong journalistic skills. So much has been written, broadcasted, tweeted, etc. about the decline of the media. I am here to tell you that scholastic journalism is as strong as ever and we, as an association, need to prove that through our students’ writing, photographs, videos, podcasts, etc.
As advisers, we need to double down on teaching all the freedoms that the First Amendment allows. We also need to teach kids that it is perfectly acceptable to be curious and to question things. It’s our job as an association to be an advocate for those students and their advisers. We need to be innovative in our teaching. The future of journalism is bright, but it is constantly evolving. As advisers — and as an association — we must be pushing ourselves in the classroom. We need to model to our students that it’s OK to take risks. We need to encourage each other to try new ways of teaching. We have to assure students, and each other, that it’s perfectly acceptable to fail as long as we learn from those failures and improve. What we need to do is teach kids to be tough, resilient and compassionate. Not only does that make you a good journalist, it also makes you a good human being.
The strength of the JEA has always been its members. I take pride in being part of an association where members are willing to help one another when they have a question, need to vent, etc. Not only do we need to strengthen that existing network, but we also need to reach out to those advisers that feel that they are on a proverbial island when it comes to teaching journalism. I would love to establish a forum where journalists can bounce ideas off of one another (similar to how #jerdchat was on Twitter) or where advisers and staffers could Skype into another classroom to “visit.” I strongly feel that the more we collaborate, the stronger we can become. I think with a strong membership that values collaboration, pedagogical support and an exchange of innovative ideas, we can show others that the future of journalism is in exceptionally good hands.
Julia Satterthwaite, CJE
Julia Satterthwaite, CJE, teaches journalism, multimedia design, writing for publications, and literature and writing at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California, where she advises El Estoque and elestoque.org. Prior to this school year, she advised The Talon and rochestertalon.com in Rochester Hills, Michigan, for 11 years, and served as Michigan’s JEA state director for two years. Her students’ publications consistently earn top state and national honors. She was awarded Michigan’s Adviser of the Year in 2014. In Michigan, she spearheaded the development of EdCamps for journalism teachers, a one-day workshop class titled Building Next Year’s Staff and a collaborative JEA Day of Doing project that resulted in a 16-page tabloid magazine with QR codes teasing to online content. In addition, she endured many prior-review battles and worked closely with the incredible student advocates at both the Student Press Law Center and the Scholastic Press Rights Committee. Satterthwaite earned a B.A. in secondary English and journalism education and a M.A. in curriculum and instruction from Michigan State University, where she fell in love with the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association. She also fell in love with her husband, Rod, while teaching at MIPA’s summer journalism workshop. Satterthwaite served two years as the MIPA’s first vice president, two years as president and two years as JEA Liaison before she and Rod found their dream jobs in California and moved to Redwood City. She enjoyed attending and presenting at her first JEA Northern California Journalism Day and looks forward to expanding her California network. She loves spending time with her family, reading, singing, being outdoors and traveling. Her love for travel developed when she attended 10th-12th grade at Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan, and her sports teams, choir and family traveled all over Europe and Asia.
Why I want to serve
Attending journalism conventions, workshops and J-Days are the highlights of my year. There’s something really inspiring about seeing the energy of a bunch of journalism kids learning and creating together, as well as getting a chance to hug and chat with some of my favorite people on earth: my adviser tribe. You see, advisers are my people. And the very reason I am where I am today. Cheryl Pell, Betsy Rau and Bobby Hawthorne got me started on the right foot by teaching me a thing or two in college, and then a slew of MIPA and JEA advisers were there for me when I was trying to develop curriculum, improve publication flow, battle prior review, celebrate successes or even just vent about how challenging this job can be. I love advisers so much, I even married one. After doing the job for many years, I started to feel more at ease and like I could finally come up for air. It was then that I decided I wanted to be on the other end of the mentor relationship and help others succeed in this profession by establishing a number of ways for advisers to collaborate. It helps that I’m naturally approachable and welcoming, got a lot of practice with facilitation from serving as English Department teacher leader at my school for many years and am very organized (my closet is organized by color and type). If elected to director of the West, I’d love to continue to develop collaborative opportunities, share resources and be an advocate for journalism advisers in the same way that so many have done for me.
When we moved from Michigan to California, our 5-year-old son, Micah, switched allegiances in a heartbeat from the Tigers to the Giants, the Lions to the 49ers and the Spartans to the Cardinal (what a ridiculous mascot, by the way). My husband was heartbroken. I thought it was disappointing, as I’ll always root for the Tigers and the Spartans (the jury is still out on the Lions), but it’s not surprising that Micah had a change of heart. He’s only 5, after all. He didn’t have any personal investment in the teams.
It got me thinking about the teams I root for and why. The Tigers. The Spartans. The students and advisers I’ve worked with on team MIPA and team JEA. My allegiance is steeped in years of experience, attendance at events and forming strong relationships with fellow teammates. I’d be honored to be elected as a “captain” for team JEA as West region director. I’d strive to continue the advancement of JEA’s core values of pedagogy, advocacy, innovation, community and excellence.
I hope to continue to develop the Curriculum Initiative and demystify the resources so advisers don’t have to spend much time searching for what they need five minutes before they have to present it. The work that has been put into this initiative has been immense, and it is a great selling point for JEA membership so I’d like to continue to help advisers navigate the resources and advertise them to those who are not yet members. If we have strong teachers, we can build strong programs. Strong programs can save journalism.
As a former frequent flier at the Scholastic Press Rights Committee and Student Press Law Center, I hope to continue to fight for embattled students and advisers who are under threat of prior review or censorship. With the current political climate, the First Amendment has never been more important. We’re tasked with training the next generation of journalists who will have to carry out the work of covering the unpleasant topics that others would prefer to sweep under the rug. Students can’t practice important skills if their content is being stifled. Specifically, I’d like to support these students and advisers by writing letters of support or by being a sounding board.
I’m also fortunate enough to have landed a teaching gig in Cupertino, the home of Apple, where the kids teach me a new tech tool almost daily, from how to code an interactive graphic to the many uses of Knight Lab. It’s invigorating to be a part of a program that’s telling stories in a wide variety of ways. JEA’s Digital Media team is already producing such informative work for those of us who are dabbling in digital, but I hope to contribute some of the stuff I’m learning to a broader audience as well.
In addition to facilitating a sense of community in our classrooms and carrying on all of the weird traditions and inside jokes that journalism kids and advisers find hilarious (Kill the orphans. Marry the widows. We have issues. I’m very font of you. Give ’em Hel-vetica. You’re just my type. Get the name of the dog.), we must establish a community with other advisers. We’re often the only person who does this job at our school, and attending PLC meetings in other content areas can be unhelpful. But the collective knowledge of the JEA membership is beyond measure. I hope to continue to foster a spirit of collaboration and bring new faces and ideas into the fold. When people would come to journalism adviser EdCamps, they often felt unsure if they had anything to contribute, but throughout the course of discussion, everyone brought something valuable and unique to the table. I want everyone to feel like he or she is an important member of team JEA.
Whether it’s through the established curriculum or helping each other more informally on the Listserv, fastidiously supporting First Amendment rights or listening to a student or adviser who just needs to vent, following and sharing about current trends in digital and social media or brainstorming ways to maintain excellent reporting and writing skills, seeking a mentor or getting certified, celebrating successes outlined in state director reports or giving a shout out to an unsung hero, cultivating more diversity or reaching out in unexpected places. We’re all striving for the same thing on team JEA: excellence. I’m no fair-weather fan.
Karen Slusher, CJE
Karen Slusher, CJE, is a journalism and publications adviser at Eaglecrest High School in Centennial, Colorado. Her love of journalism began as a high school newspaper student, and she has spent her career growing a program at this school over the last 12 years. As part of that goal, she has created an advanced certification program for journalism students, encouraged the adoption of a website and a video broadcast program, and initiated the need for a journalism department within her school, and the first within her school district. While doing this, she has served two year terms each as Colorado Student Media Association’s secretary, vice president, president and past president. In those roles, she has had the opportunity to help teach the Summer Adviser Workshop for new advisers in Colorado. For the past six years, Slusher has served on JEA’s Awards Committee and taught at journalism workshops in Colorado, Iowa and Utah. She has a master’s degree in journalism education from the University of Missouri.
Why I want to serve
For the past six years, I have been given the opportunity to serve on the Awards Committee with both newer and veteran members of JEA, and through that group, I have been able to gain a more thorough understanding of everything JEA does. I have benefited from the collegiality, the workshops and the curriculum that JEA and its board members provide, and I feel like I am in a place now where my knowledge of the board is strong enough and my experience as an adviser significant enough that it makes me qualified to serve as well. The goal of the board is to provide its members and thus the students the resources they need to be successful journalists and citizens, and I want to be able to contribute to that opportunity.
While the board is currently doing a great job serving its members, I hope to contribute new ideas and help other programs around the country grow in the same way I have seen the program at my own school grow. Having a supportive administration puts me in a fortunate position to be able to use that relationship to help other schools establish a similar mentality. While that won’t happen immediately in every school, I do believe the situation I have can help to create communication pieces and conduct studies to use as evidence for why having a journalism program is beneficial. I am excited to have the opportunity to extend my service to JEA and its members and to continue to grow in this profession.
One of the first projects I would like to produce is a virtual tour of scholastic newsrooms across the country. While JEA member schools do not all have the same resources, we still have similar situations and needs for our programs. Some of my best learning has come from attending a convention session led by another adviser who is in a similar situation at his school, but he is finding more success for various reasons. Often, it comes down to rethinking classroom space, a system or a lesson structure.
The Virtual Tour project would be a way for schools to provide a tour of their program, the facilities and their processes. I also would like to include interviews with editors, advisers and staffers answering common questions. The goal is not to create a situation of jealousy but a clear labeling system online for advisers to be able to see two or three other schools similar to theirs and make adjustments if needed. I think this can easily extend our sense of community beyond connecting just the one to three times every year and by also connecting to newer advisers who might not have the means to connect in person right away.
I would also hope that the virtual tour could potentially lead to opportunities for small numbers of students and advisers to take tours of schools during the year. While I don’t know exactly how to make this possible, and I do think it will have to develop on a local or regional level, I do know the benefit is often irreplaceable.
My second goal would be to spend time in this position connecting with the different state and regional associations to encourage nominations for the awards given through JEA. As part of the committee, it is common to see nominations not always be representative of the entire membership. My hope would be that through making more of those connections, the award dispersal would be augmented, and that would in turn create a more connections for advisers in similar regions.
My final goal would be to help schools implement a program for advanced certification for students who spend multiple years on a school publications or productions staff. I would like to work with a group of advisers to build on the program design currently used for my school so teachers across the country can establish a focused area of study centered on journalism. Although this type of certification is not recognized specifically by colleges, I do think it can enhance recruitment for high school programs, encourage collegiate behaviors and provide validation to administrations and communities.