Georgia publications staff, Michigan adviser earn JEA Diversity Award

Georgia publications staff, Michigan adviser earn JEA Diversity Award

Elizabeth Cyr took students to cultural competence training in 2018. From this, they gained a new awareness for their surroundings. They took the lessons they learned and teamed up with other schools to add better coverage to their school newspaper.

The Journalism Education Association has awarded Woodward Academy of College Park, Georgia, and Elizabeth Cyr of Gregory, Michigan, with its Diversity Award.

The Diversity Award honors a scholastic journalism teacher, student, or group that demonstrates a commitment to cultural awareness and encourages a multicultural approach with the student media staff, production, or community.

Elizabeth Cyr, Gregory, Michigan, lives and teaches in a small, working, mostly white town with limited diversity; however, this hasn’t stopped Cyr from pushing her students to take on content for their student publication at Stockbridge High School that promotes awareness. “Being a pretty homogenous staff and school, it can be tough for coverage to be authentic,” nominator Sara-Beth Badalamente, CJE, said. “Last winter, Elizabeth reached out to me to get our students together for a roundtable discussion. When it comes to racism, the topic cannot be approached lightly. Elizabeth had already preplanned and even went to diversity training with some staff.”

Cyr’s staff has regular experiences like this so they can gain more insight into the tough topics and be prepared to handle the responses from their community.

“The care she gives her students as they explore diverse topics shows,” Kaitlin Edgerton, CJE, said. “Only an educator who wishes to expand diversity would be able to cultivate and capture such a wonderful group of students to work towards educating others around them.”

Publications students from Woodward Academy in College Park, Georgia, know what it means to experience diversity. As the largest and most diverse school in the continental United States, the students on the publications staff do everything in their ability to uphold the school’s mission: “Respect for ourselves, others, and the world.”

“Starting in Introduction to Journalism, students learn to be thoughtful about everything from using inclusive language to lighting techniques which accurately reflect all skin types,” adviser Rebekah Goode-Peoples, CJE, said. “They learn how black and brown people, women, religious minorities, LGBTQ individuals, and those economically disadvantaged are portrayed unfairly in the media.”

From learning about these aspects, students are empowered by student editors to cover topics important to them and are encouraged to share different perspectives. To name some, the staff has covered the importance of faculty diversity, the need for affinity groups, protest rights for private school students, gender disparity in uniform options, Atlanta PRIDE, an orthodox Jewish student who joined the Israeli army, and more.

“The staff of Woodward Academy’s Student Publications are my heroes,” Goode-Peoples said, “and I am so proud of who they are becoming as individuals, how they are promoting inclusivity at their school, and who they go on to be in the world. We are better because of them.”

Cyr and the student publications staffs of Woodward Academy will be recognized April 25-27 during at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Anaheim, California.

Founded in 1924, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, by promoting professionalism, by encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and by fostering an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

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