10 to receive JEA Lifetime Achievement Award
Ten individuals who have contributed significantly throughout their scholastic journalism careers have been named Journalism Education Association Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. They will be honored April 25-27 at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Anaheim, California.
The award recipients are Dan Austin, Granite Bay, California; Deanne Brown, Austin, Texas; John Cutsinger, CJE, Orlando, Florida; Jim Jordan, Fair Oaks, California; Crystal Kazmierski, Monrovia, California; Konnie Krislock, Newport Beach, California; Casey Nichols, CJE, Rocklin, California; Terry Pitkin, Scottsbluff, Nebraska; Margaret Sorrows, CJE, Sherwood, Arkansas; and Stan Zoller, MJE, Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
Dan Austin, Granite Bay, California, has made a name for himself in the journalism and yearbook world as the “Copy Man.” Austin, has been teaching and advising for more than 30 years, most recently at Casa Roble High School in Orangevale, California. He has given much of his time during his career to helping students both in and outside of his programs learn how to write compelling stories. “He has influenced literally thousands of students during that time,” nominator Pete LeBlanc, CJE, said. “He contributes to JEA teaching a highly successful writing workshop at every spring conference where enrollment often swells above 50 as the word is out when Dan is teaching.” Through his work as an educator, he has helped his students see their potential as creators. “Dan and his books are most known for their innovation in writing, coverage and design,” longtime educator Jim Jordan said. “His students have set new standards for how a story can be told and many of his books are textbooks for deep levels of storytelling.”
Deanne Brown, Austin, Texas, has earned numerous accolades during her 31 years advising the Featherduster newsmagazine at Westlake High School, but her contributions to scholastic journalism have far surpassed that. Throughout her career, Brown also has taught at many state and national conventions, she provides critiques, she served as president for the Association of Texas Photography Instructors and she recently co-authored a photojournalism curriculum textbook. “She’s a passionate, engaging and loving educator,” Jeanne Acton, UIL/ILPC journalism director, said. “She instills a love for journalism — a love for communication — in each of her students.” Brown manages to extract the best out of her students in a way that gives them the confidence to continue doing what they love. “(Brown) gives them the knowledge, the supportive environment and the facilities and they continue to produce some of the finest work in the nation,” Bradley Wilson, MJE, said.
John Cutsinger, CJE, Orlando, Florida, has a passion for scholastic journalism and for sharing that with as many people as he can. As a Jostens creative accounts manager, Cutsinger reached many advisers through workshops, personal classroom visits, phone calls, articles, and sessions taught at national conventions. “John is so gifted. When speaking to his audience, he is able to make them understand that the yearbook is not just a book that covers the year,” Randy Joe Hamilton said. “He has a gift that he passes on to the students that makes them want to do the extra things to make the book a memory maker that will last a lifetime.” Through his work, Cutsinger’s goals were to help students see their capabilities in whatever aspect of journalism it was. “John has been empowering student journalists for decades,” Nora Neff, CJE, said. “The seeds he has planted with staffs all over the country have already come to fruition.”
Jim Jordan, Fair Oaks, California, has been out of the classroom since June 2017 after advising 35 yearbooks, but he has remained a dedicated supporter and educator for scholastic journalism. Since retiring from Del Campo High School, he has become a lead mentor for the Walsworth Adviser Mentor Program, instructs at yearbook workshops, and recently began a podcast, “Yearbook Chat with Jim.” Jordan, who also contributed much of his time to both state and national journalism organizations, knows what it takes to establish and lead a top-performing scholastic journalism program. “I first saw [Jim] speak at Gettysburg Yearbook Experience in 2006. It was my second year advising, and his lecture on coverage blew my mind — and shaped my understanding of what a yearbook should be,” Erinn Harris, MJE, said. “Few advisers can match the career successes that Jim has amassed, but that’s not his legacy. His legacy is the lives he’s touched, the advisers he’s influenced, and the thousands of students he has inspired.”
Crystal Kazmierski, Monrovia, California, knows how to build a successful program. In her 24 years as an adviser, most recently at Arrowhead Christian Academy in Redlands, California, Kazmierski’s staffs received 23 NSPA Pacemakers and 17 CSPA Gold Crowns. “For decades, Crystal led the way in yearbooking and in the development of an inclusive culture of yearbook that allowed students to discover and master talents needed to tell stories that mattered and deliver an amazing record of each school year for the students and the greater community,” nominator Tamra McCarthy, CJE, said. Kazmierski takes the knowledge she has and shares it with as many other programs as possible, teaching at workshops across the country, speaking at the national conventions and offering advice to those who ask. “Crystal Kazmierski didn’t just influence Wings. She shared her ideas, her zaniest thoughts, her funniest stories and her love of excellence with all of us,” Susan Massy said. “We are all better teachers, better designers, better writers and even better people for knowing and learning from the one and only Kaz.”
Konnie Krislock, Newport Beach, California, has known for years how to get the best out of her students and how to make that possible for new advisers wanting the same thing. As a JEA mentor, Krislock not only provided educational support to her mentees, but also a force to be reckoned with when it came to scholastic press rights. “When school started, Konnie came in to work with my students and we arranged a meeting with my new principal,” nominator Jessica Young, MJE, said. “Not one to mince words, Konnie immediately informed my principal of his role in MY program. I knew I had someone in my corner, ready to answer my questions, support my choices and cheer me on as I faced new challenges.” Krislock has provided that same support system to numerous other teachers, helping them navigate the world of advising through her Newspapers2 Workshop in Southern California and also helping write the California Free Expression Law in 1977.
Casey Nichols, CJE, Rocklin, California, has undoubtedly grown a program and a career worthy of recognition. For over 30 years, Nichols has dedicated himself to learning and growing within this profession so he can continue to be at his best for his students. “To embrace multimedia and digital storytelling skills, he attended JEA’s Advisers Institute in Las Vegas,” nominator Sarah Nichols, MJE, said. “In May 2018, he sat beside a colleague 30 years his junior as they took the MJE exam together.” Nichols, who will retire from Rocklin High School, also takes the time to serve others in this profession. He has judged for multiple contests for nearly 20 years, he was the Awards Committee chair for JEA for three years, he developed curriculum for Jostens, and he has been a JEA mentor since 2013. Throughout his career, Nichols has believed in building relationships and helping those in need. “This is a good man who has dedicated his life to family and friends as well as all those in scholastic journalism who are fortunate to ask his seasoned advice,” John Cutsinger, CJE, said. “His warm, nurturing approach immediately shows his genuine desire to help others be their personal best.”
Terry Pitkin, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, has spent more than 40 years of his professional career advising scholastic journalism. Through that time, Pitkin has served not only his students, but also the journalism community in Nebraska. He served on the board for the Nebraska High School Press Association multiple times where he could provide support to newer advisers and opportunities to journalism students, including the “Project 100” initiative to get more schools registered for the state journalism contest. “With Terry retiring at the end of this school year, it is the end of an era,” nominator Diane Schieffer said. “The good news is that he has built a legacy of journalism in his school and in the state, and with that, he won’t be very far away from our thoughts.”
Margaret Sorrows, CJE, Sherwood, Arkansas, “has created a legacy of success at Bryant High School,” nominator Lizabeth Walsh, MJE, said. Sorrows, who taught at Bryant High School for 24 years, found just the right methods for inspiring her students to succeed in the yearbook and photography world. “Margaret is a giving person who loves helping others create and achieve their dreams,” Walsh said. Now, Sorrows spends her time helping instruct at yearbook camps and workshops across the country, imparting what she has learned on other staffs. “Margaret is more than a voice of calm during stressful deadline consults,” Susan Pavelka said. “She doesn’t drone on about what works for her, she observes. She doesn’t give long analogies, she keeps it short and she makes it count. That’s good teaching. That reaches the kids.”
Stan Zoller, MJE, Buffalo Grove, Illinois, has become known in this industry as an outspoken advocate and a voice for freedom of speech. “It would be impossible for me to detail every contribution Stan has made to scholastic journalism in the past 15 or so years,” nominator Brenda Field, MJE, said, “but his most remarkable have been related to creating opportunities for all students to find and use their voices. From 2005 to 2012, Zoller served on a three-person initiative for JEA called the Outreach Academy. Through this work, he coordinated seminars at the fall and spring conventions for advisers who teach in low-income, urban or rural schools. Later on, he continued to serve by working with Brenda Field to champion the New Voices legislature for Illinois. “He poured his passion for journalism into our efforts to get our eventually successful legislation across the finish line,” Field said. “Quite simply, Stan was remarkable.”
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.