The importance of honoring those in scholastic journalism we respect and revere

July 1 : Nominations for Carl Towley Award, Administrator of the Year, Medal of Merit, Friend of Scholastic Journalism Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, Future Teacher Scholarships

The importance of honoring those in scholastic journalism we respect and revere

By Rob Melton
Just click on the submenu “NW Hall of Fame” above and you’ll see a list of Oregon advisers and students who have been recognized for their work. Notice anything? It’s kind of a short list, at least on the national front. Any success we have is thanks to others who have helped us along the way. One way to thank people is to nominate them for an honor or award. Equally important is to pay it forward by helping someone else.

It’s never too late to nominate, write letters, prepare tributes, or write a biography about the people you respect and revere, and recognize them for the amazing work they do.

I’ve worked in all corners of Oregon as a journalism teacher for 31 years and as a newspaper journalist before that, and I’m always impressed at the talent and commitment and overall awesomeness of Oregon’s brand of journalism advisers. It’s important to stop at least once or twice every year to celebrate accomplishments big and small, where we’ve been, and where we’re going.

So when the press release says “If you plan to submit nominees,” just cross out the “If you” part of the phrase and plan to honor those you respect and revere.

The nomination deadline for JEA awards for the spring convention is coming up soon, and there’s no time like the present to nominate your favorite journalism teacher from Oregon. Better yet, get together with some friends and all write letters for that person.

Don’t stop there, though. Nominate people for awards that Northwest Scholastic Press sponsors or co-sponsors: Journalist of the Year, Teacher of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Administrator of the Year, or pitch us your idea for a special award if you’d rather do that.

And while you’re at it, honor people you know with your own local award. I’ve done that for friends who, amazingly, had never received an award for the awesome work they do — so I went ahead and created one. I called it the “Golden Apple Award” and designed a fancy certificate and mounted that on a walnut plaque with a piece of glass over the certificate.

It delighted my friend, and was displayed prominently on the wall in her classroom. She received many compliments over the years. She deserved it. That’s my point.

I think that is the appropriate spirit of giving awards to others you know. I first learned about this when I was 17, and editor of the weekly newspaper (and a high school student), from the mayor’s wife, who did not wield the political power of her husband but something more powerful — relational power. How did she do it? Every week, she delivered a plate of her almond cookies to the person she chose  who had done the most for the community that week or needed the love of the community that week.

Think about it — every year she honored 52 people. Every week she told everyone why she was honoring that person. Every week someone new felt recognized and a part of a community trying to do good. Who was the most powerful person in that community — his honor the mayor, or his wife? What difference can one person make?

I used this strategy when I first started teaching. We gave out awards for the best story, most helpful person, best photograph after each issue was put to bed, and the award was by design the cheapest and tackiest thing we could think of. It was an extension of the Food-Fun-Friendship strategy for success. We started out with the paper plate awards — something I continued until my last day of teaching.

A talented and fun-loving editor developed his own brand of fun by giving a can of creamed corn to the staffer of the issue. It was the most coveted award and people were honored to receive it. He and the mayor’s wife knew how to generate loyalty and excellence through relational power.

Not everyone knows enough to appreciate the work journalism teachers do, so nominate someone for a state or national award this year, or start your own award or offer recognition in your own unique way!


If you plan to submit nominees for the following awards, which will be presented at the spring JEA/NSPA convention, the RECEIVED BY deadline is Monday, Oct. 15.

The Journalism Education Association’s Diversity Award honors a scholastic journalism teacher, student media adviser or scholastic journalism group demonstrating a commitment to cultural awareness and encouraging a multicultural approach with its student media staff, media production and/or community. The honoree must be in the forefront in promoting diversity in the scholastic media arena and must have taken steps to break down walls of misunderstanding and ignorance.
Future Teacher Scholarship (will be presented this fall)
The Journalism Education Association sponsors up to three $1,000 scholarships for education majors who intend to teach scholastic journalism. Each recipient must be an upper-division or master’s degree student in a college program designed to prepare him/her for teaching at the secondary-school level. Current secondary-school journalism teachers who are in a degree program to improve their journalism teaching skills are also eligible.
Linda S. Puntney Teacher Inspiration Award
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. It was named after Linda S. Puntney, JEA’s executive director from 1989-2010.
This award recognizes up-and-coming advisers with one to five years of journalism teaching and/or advising experience. The nominations may come from scholastic press associations, yearbook companies, fellow teachers, students and/or parents. The nominees should
  • Demonstrate a commitment to journalism education.
  • Foster an awareness of the rights and responsibilities granted by the First Amendment.
  • Seek additional professional development opportunities to improve skills as a journalism adviser/teacher.
  • Encourage student editors to attend workshops, conferences and conventions.
  • Show commitment to continually improve the medium or media advised.
  • Empower student editors to make all editorial decisions in a responsible way without content being subject to prior review.
H.L. Hall National Yearbook Adviser of the Year
The National High School Yearbook Adviser of the Year program is designed to honor outstanding high school advisers and their exemplary work from the previous year, as well as throughout their careers.
A $1,000 award for the winner’s school, and up to four $500 awards for Distinguished Advisers’ schools may be used to buy equipment for the yearbook classroom or to fund student scholarships to summer workshops. The Yearbook Adviser of the Year will have his or her travel and hotel paid for the convention when he or she receives the award. In addition, the recipient will also receive a personal $1,000 prize.
National yearbook companies help sponsor this award program.
The award is named for H.L. Hall, who advised yearbook and newspaper for 26 years at Kirkwood (Mo.) High School. A JEA past president and longtime board member, Hall was awarded the first National Yearbook Adviser of the Year award in 1995.
If you choose to ship your YAOY entry by UPS or FedEx, please use this address:
Yearbook Adviser of the Year
Kansas State University
014 Kedzie Hall                  (use 103 Kedzie Hall if using USPS)
Manhattan, KS 66506
Looking ahead … The deadline for the first round for First Amendment Press Freedom Award is Dec. 1.
We encourage schools with student media policies categorizing those media as forums for student expression or open forums and those operating as forums by practice, even if they do not have a policy stating such, to enter. Schools named as First Amendment Press Freedom Award in 2012 must reapply to be considered for this year’s selection.
A student and a teacher or administrator must complete this form for each school: