Jordan to receive Linda S. Puntney Teacher Inspiration Award
By Erinn Harris, MJE, awards chair
The Journalism Education Association has named James Jordan, former adviser of the Decamhian at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California, as its 2021 Linda S. Puntney Teacher Inspiration Award recipient.
This award recognizes a teacher who, through the teaching and/or advising of journalism, inspired others to pursue journalism teaching as a career and who has made a positive difference in the teaching community.
Jordan will be formally recognized July 5-8 at the JEA Advisers Institute.
“If you need to inspire your editors, have them chat with Jim. If you’re not even sure you want to be a yearbook adviser and you’re in the midst of an existential advising crisis, I’d recommend you have a chat with Jim.”
These words from Alyssa Boehringer, yearbook and broadcast adviser st McKinney High School, encompass what Jordan means to the scholastic journalism community.
Under his 30-years as adviser of the Decamhian, the publication won numerous Pacemaker and Gold Crown honors. As an adviser, Jordan shared his expertise with students and advisers at workshops and conventions across the country, and he continues to do so in retirement as a Walsworth Yearbooks special consultant and continual innovator in the yearbook industry.
While the depth of his expertise is inspiring in and of itself, it is Jordan’s heart that helps all those in his orbit find strength, passion and confidence they didn’t even know they had.
“My time spent in the yearbook room made me feel like I could accomplish anything I had ever dreamed of doing,” said Andrew Carnegie Middle School adviser and former student Jill Goudy said. “It was about more than putting out an award-winning yearbook. It was about building relationships and from day one Mr. Jordan was there for me as he has always been for his students.”
To know Jordan — even if it’s just from social media posts hashtagged #thankful #grateful #joyful — is to know that he believes in community. He has a gift for bringing people together and making them feel heard, valued and full of joy.
“He never brought my kids great ideas to steal or even told them he didn’t like what they had already done,” Boehringer said. “He simply asked ‘Why?’ and if they didn’t have an answer, we came up with one or moved in another direction. He kept them focused on the message of the year and when we needed a break, he took them outside to make paper airplanes out of extra marketing materials we had lying around the room.”
One of Jordan’s many gifts is that he truly believes in people.
“In personal encounters, in social settings, in groups large and small, on Facebook, Jim inspires by imparting the belief in his family, students and peers that they can succeed,” said 2020 H.L. Hall National Yearbook Adviser of the Year Mitch Ziegler, CJE. “He possesses a wonderful sense of community that infects those around him.”
More than awards and accolades, Jordan takes pride in people, their passions and accomplishments.
“When the position of yearbook adviser opened up at my school, I practically ran to my principals’ office and asked him to give a young 27-year-old a chance,” former student Tamara J. Givens said. “Of course, one of the first people I told was Jim, and his excitement and pride for me was palpable. I learned to lead my students as he led us — giving them the ability to make decisions and choices that I would not necessarily make but that were always based on the principles of journalistic soundness.”
Yearbooks are forever — something that Jordan knows and embraces. We look back at our old yearbooks to remember people, places, events and ideas that were — and sometimes continue to be — important at that time in our lives. We read messages from our friends and sometimes even our teachers.
“Looking back at his inscription in my yearbook,” Goudy said, “one quote stands out to me. ‘Never forget as you move through life — Jill Webber can be and do anything she sets her mind to.’ I have always wanted to make Mr. Jordan proud, yet I never had the chance to tell him that I am proud of him.
“Jim Jordan has truly dedicated his life to his students and the art of journalism. I am proud of all of his accomplishments.”
Founded in 1924, JEA supports free and responsible scholastic journalism by providing resources and educational opportunities, promoting professionalism, encouraging and rewarding student excellence and teacher achievement, and an atmosphere which encompasses diversity yet builds unity. It is headquartered at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.