2018 Medal of Merit Recipients

2018 Medal of Merit Recipients

Four individuals who have contributed significantly throughout their career will be recognized this fall in Chicago as Medal of Merit recipients.


The award recipients are Linda Barrington, MJE, Executive Director for KEMPA; Alyssa Boehringer, CJE, McKinney High School (Texas); Sandra Coyer, MJE, Puyallup High School (Washington); and Meghan Percival, MJE, McLean High School (Virginia).


Linda Barrington has had an extensive reach in the scholastic journalism world, functioning as a mentor and as a trainer for the JEA Mentor Program since the program started. “It is because of Linda the program developed a relationship with Yellow Chair, which provides a significant amount of funding for mentors around the country and for all mentors to meet and hone their skills at the Mentor Forums at each convention,” nominator Carmen Wendt, MJE, said. “Linda (though she would say everyone helped) has led the program to the success it is today.” Barrington also extends her service to KEMPA as its executive director. “She co-director of our annual Winter Seminar for advisers,” nominator April van Buren, MJE, said.  “Yet she is the main force behind this program, going so far as to design and print the marketing materials, manage all contracts with vendors, provide graduate credit for interested advisers and create opportunities to sponsor the event.” And in her free time, Barrington has found a way to help initiate the growing New Voices campaign in Wisconsin. If Barrington sees the opportunity to further the experience for scholastic journalists and advisers, she finds a way to make it happen.


Alyssa Boehringer has served on the board of the Texas Association of Journalism Educators as the JEA State Director, the secretary and now the president-elect. In this position, she has been a wealth of knowledge for the board and for the other advisers across Texas. “I’ve relied on her knowledge of how the organization works,” nominator Cindy Todd said. “Not only that, when I need opinions on a wide variety of matters from fonts in a redesign of a convention flier or a fundraising idea to details in the membership form or proofreading a letter to be sent to principals regarding prior review, I know Alyssa will be the first to respond.” Outside of Texas, Boehringer is a respected presenter and judge. “Alyssa motivates and teaches students and advisers alike how to push themselves to create relevant and brilliant journalism for their school and community,” ILPC Director Jeanne Acton said. “She is a pioneer and a trailblazer, and she has the foresight to see where journalism is headed. And lucky for us, she is generous enough to take us with her as she drives new paths and directions.”


Sandra Coyer immersed herself in the journalism world shortly after she began advising at Puyallup High School. She has served the Washington Journalism Education Association as secretary, vice president, president, and is currently the immediate past president. She has also served as JEA previously as a board member and as Washington State Director. Through her leadership, she has helped increase JEA membership in Washington to the highest it has been in five years. “I knew immediately she was going to be someone special in our profession,” nominator Mark Newton, MJE, said. “Sandra is a dedicated professional who has served JEA exceptionally well. I was always impressed with her dedication to JEA principles and requirements, her focus on her constituents, her engagement with other leaders and her unwavering commitment to making our organization better.” In between her roles with WJEA and advising her own program, Coyer has also found time to serve JEA as the convention Write-off chair, convention curriculum chair and convention local chair when JEA has taken place in Seattle. “In each instance Sandra serves others first, always sacrificing for the greater good,” Newton said. “She does this with a vision and unwavering focus on supporting the organization and its members.”


Meghan Percival is not about personal recognition. She is about the students, helping other advisers, and improving scholastic journalism. However, she is extremely deserving given how much she gives back to scholastic journalism. “In addition to bringing her staffs to conventions and serving on local committees for several D.C. conventions, she has accepted the role of local chair for the upcoming convention there — all without fanfare because that’s who she is,” nominator Ann Akers, MJE, said. Percival has also found the time to help lead on the board for Virginia Association of Journalism Teachers and Advisers and on the NSPA board. “When Meghan is on a committee, she works hard and provides insightful commentary throughout the process,” Mary Kay Downes, MJE, said. “She can always be counted on to contribute. Her contributions benefit advisers and staffs locally and nationwide. She is a consistent speaker, author, judge and more.”


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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