First-time Convention Grant recipients learn in Chicago

First-time Convention Grant recipients learn in Chicago

Advisers Jennifer Brunner, PD Jackson Olin High School, Ensley, Alabama, Malorie Paine, Kingsbury High School, Memphis, Tennessee, Evan Elrod, Jasper High School, Jasper (Ind.), and two students from each high school attended the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention Nov. 1-4 in Chicago as recipients.

The grant provided a professional learning package for each team which included free rooms in the convention hotel, complimentary registration, preconvention workshop sessions, Write-off entries, a publication critique, Saturday adviser luncheon tickets and Pizza and Proud admission for the students. Advisers also participated in the Outreach Academy on Thursday.

One of the goals of the program was to share with advisers the networking with colleagues that happens at the convention.

“The most valuable experience for me was to interact with other educators and exchange ideas
with them. My program is new and was thrown together very quickly, so the opportunity to talk
with other teachers was beneficial,” Brunner said.

Like Brunner, Elrod was excited about the connections made in Chicago.

“For me, it was the adviser-based sessions and learning what other instructors are doing. Realizing each class and school is a little different, and that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution that I’m missing out on. My students got a ton out of meeting with other schools and students to swap ideas and showcase publications,” Elrod said.

Seeing the benefit for students was important to Paine as well.

“The most valuable experience was to see my kids excited to not only learn and attend the sessions, but to actually want to discuss how they can put into action what they were learning. It was also really beneficial to network with other advisers and JEA members in a place where we were all so focused on making better students and creating stronger programs,” Paine said.

Recipients had advice for other first-time attendees.

“Make sure you preview the course offerings before the convention and map out exactly what sessions you and your staff want to attend. We did that, and I think it enabled us to make the most of our experience,” Brunner said.

Both advisers and students set goals for their staffs while they were in Chicago.

“We have come up with several fundraising ideas, and we will try to take as many students to the future conventions as possible. As a Title I school, this will be a challenge, but the conventions are crucial to the success of our program, so we all are going to work very hard to make it happen. My students have been hyping the convention up to their peers, and we’re all really looking forward to raising money and getting to both Anaheim and D.C. as well as all future conventions as well,” Paine said.

Students learned a lot from their first NHSJC experience.

“The most valuable convention experience was being able to meet people from across the nation and share experiences and ideas with them. My advice to first-time convention-goers would be to pack light, and don’t be afraid to speak first and have conversations with people you don’t know. [At] future conventions [my goal] is to learn more about feature writing and learn more about finding stories even when it seems like there’s nothing to write about. To me it’ll be easy to encourage others to attend by showing them how much our newspaper has improved after attending a convention and showing them all the fun things and people we meet,” Demetria Lawson, PD Jackson Olin High School student said.

Grant recipients were required to answer a few questions about their experience and to choose any two of the following activities:
1. Use a Google Doc to fill in all sessions attended each hour with a one-three sentence takeaway from each.
2. Produce a journalistic package on the experience for publication in their media
3. Describe in detail how they taught other staff members what they learned at the convention.
4. Write an article for C:JET – Diary/journal style from the point of view of a first-time convention attendee OR interview the presenter of one of the sessions you attend and develop a story on the session. Make sure you get any handouts/links that could be used as sidebars for the story.

Four adviser/student groups will be selected to receive the First-Time Convention Grant for the Anaheim convention April 25-27, 2019. Applicants must be able to provide their own transportation to the convention, have administrative approval to attend and agree to complete the post-convention follow-up reporting.

The application is available here; submissions are due Jan. 15, 2019.

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