Knight named JEA’s 2022 Administrator of the Year
By Ranae Duncan, awards committee
Brian Knight, principal of Southport High School, Indianapolis, has been named Journalism Education Association’s 2022 Administrator of the Year. JEA presents the award to administrators who have shown a dedication to journalism education.
“Mr. Knight always makes himself available to Southport student journalists, and he respects them enough to give them complete candor,” Southport adviser Mike Klopfenstein said. “There have been issues of The Journal when four or five students on staff have asked to schedule interviews with him. He finds time for them all.
“In the five and a half years that he’s been principal at Southport, I don’t ever remember him telling one of my students that he didn’t have time to sit down with them. And frequently, I’ll have students tell me how much they enjoy interviewing Mr. Knight because he always gives them thorough interviews filled with great answers.”
Successful journalism programs are built on trust. Knight has done just that by emboldening students to seek out the truth and ask questions. He has given support beyond what was expected of him as an administrator.
“As editor-in-chief during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, I didn’t expect his level of care to change,” 2021 editor-in-chief of The Journal newspaper Elizabeth Valadez said. “But due to global circumstances, I was prepared for replies similar to ‘Sorry, but …’ from Mr. Knight.
“He had always been supportive of possibly controversial coverage like vaping and gun control, but I knew stories about COVID-19 vaccines, mandates and guidelines could easily add to his already overfilled plate. Fortunately for The Journal, he did not shut down any idea, post or story. Mr. Knight trusted The Journal to produce pandemic coverage and to do it well. That’s what his relationship with The Journal is founded on: mutual trust and respect.”
Knight not only trusts the Southport advisers and student journalists, but he shows that he values what they do on a regular basis. From supporting advisers’ ideas to increase involvement in their journalism program and supporting their attendance at various local and national journalism events throughout the year, to believing in students’ work and their First Amendment rights, as 2018 editor-in-chief of The Journal Andrew Tapp said, Knight “creates a culture of promoting student journalists.”
“I remember him mentioning to me that he had received phone calls from people in the higher ups of township administration or from angry parents,” Tapp said. “I always told him I was sorry and that he could always forward them on to me. He never once accepted my apology. In fact, he often told me it was a sign that we were doing something right and to keep going.”
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.