Have a great summer!

As the school year winds down, I’m already thinking about SISPA activities for next year. I guess that’s some indication of how much I love this part of my job.

First, I wish you a season of refreshment. I hope summer leaves you energized and ready to engage your students next fall. I hope you find some new and wonderful resource or have an experience that will underscore the importance of what happens as we teach our students to produce high quality media.

Second, I have a request. If you meet someone (or have met someone) that you think would be a wonderful asset to our Winter Conference next Feb. 21, email me and let me know. I am always looking for new faces and new voices. I’m excited to share that two of our own advisers, Steve Garland (Belleville West) and Andrew Crider (Granite City) have agreed to do sessions on brand new topics, and our work to develop an electronic/digital strand for contests is continuing.

Thanks to you all for all you invest in your students and congratulations on all that you have accomplished this year. I look forward to working with you again next year.



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SISPA 2017

Just a note to say thanks to all who participated in yesterday’s event. We hosted 282 students from 17 different high schools at the SIUC Student Center.

Special congratulations to Manion Rice Advisers of the Year Brandi Jones of Carbondale (YB) and Steve Steele of Taylorville (NP).

Contest results for student competition will be posted soon..

SISPA Update

It’s with a very heavy heart that I share with you news of the passing of long-time SISPA leader Laurie Bielong. Laurie had an outstanding career as the adviser of Hy News and was a role model for many, including me. Her obituary can be read at http://kurrusfh.com/obituaries/2013-obituaries/?id=956

Former SISPA director Herman Albers is writing a tribute to Laurie that will be shared on the website as well as read at our upcoming winter conference, Feb. 22.

Moving to news about the Winter Conference, a pre-registration option is now available. The required form was attached to an email I sent the group. If you did not receive one, contact me at cwall@harrisburg3.org. If you choose to pre-register, you will save one dollar per attendee and one dollar per contest participant. No refunds will be given unless SIUC closes the campus.

You will also have the opportunity to purchase SISPA tshirts for yourself and your students. The shirts will have a tri-color design on grey. Shirts will not be available for purchase at the conference.

Our keynoter for this year is Taylorville adviser Stephen Steele and a team of his students. They will be talking about their experiences as advocates for the New Voices legislation that passed this summer as well as giving additional information about the law and its protections. It’s an inspiring story that I am sure you will enjoy.

Work is continuing on the development of a contest for websites and electronic submission of contest entries. We hope to pilot both next year.

RE contests, remember that both Blue Banner and Best Story contests are due this Friday. Your entry must be postmarked by that date and sent to the correct person in order to be eligible.

As always, if you have an questions at all, contact me. I check my mail several times a day and can usually get back to you within a few hours (providing I know the answer).

 Looking forward to seeing you next month,

Sad News from Wayne City

I’m Mark Hostert and I’m the former yearbook adviser at Wayne City High School. I served the school district from 2012-2016 in that position before accepting a new job at Nashville this past summer.

As many of you know LaDonna was the longtime yearbook adviser at Wayne City. I believe she even had won an Adviser of the Year award (but she would never tell or brag about it).

In March, LaDonna was diagnosed with cancer. Initially, the outlook was positive and they thought it was operable and would not spread. Months later though, that news took a turn for the worst. She never gave up her fighting spirit, though.

It’s with a heavy heart and great sadness that I report Mrs. LaDonna Talbert passed away this morning. I felt those in the SISPA community should know of this loss.

On a personal note she was a great mentor and friend. I was green coming into Wayne City. It was a new town to me and I was fresh out of college without any yearbook experience. She never once stepped on my toes and waited for me to come to her for help. And did she ever help! She gave me fantastic advice and allowed me to grow instead of dictating what I should do.

Furthermore, she always put her students first. She never gave up on any student, no matter how difficult they were, she got through to them to help them for their life past high school. I had also taught special education at WCHS and she taught me a thing or two about teaching children with disabilities, that’s how good she was.

She also helped me grow as a person and not just a teacher. It’s hard to believe we lost such a wonderful person way too soon. My heart breaks for her family, the students and the community of Wayne City.

RIP LaDonna, you are and were such a tremendous person.

Outreach Academy

With the convention in Indianapolis this fall, it would be a great opportunity for new advisers to attend the JEA Outreach Academy.

As you know, teaching journalism can be a real challenge — especially the way trends and issues change. It can be hard for any journalism educator, but especially those who are new or in districts what may be resource-challenged.

That’s one of the reasons the JEA has, for the past 11 years, offered a one-day workshop at each convention for new advisers who are minorities, teach in minority-majority schools, or in under-served district.

The Outreach Academy is offered on the Thursday of the convention and gives participants a “boot camp” introduction — and resources — to journalism education.  The workshop is led by Anthony Whitten, Scholastic Journalism Outreach Coordinator at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

The Outreach Academy in Indianapolis will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10.
In addition to free registration, there is an amazing list of benefits and bonuses available to participants.   Information about the OutreachAcademy is available at  About the Outreach Academy  with the application at this link. Applicants need to make sure to select the IndyOutreach Academy on the pull-down menu, Outreach Academy Application.



New Training Modules

ASNE and Missouri School of Journalism offer unique training resources for high schools: 24 online modules available now

The American Society of News Editors collaborated with Missouri School of Journalism faculty and staff to develop journalism training resources for secondary-school teachers and students.

“Both the novice and experienced journalism teacher can take their student media program to the next level, with these resources” said Teri Hayt, ASNE executive director, “The modules are a lifesaver for anyone thrown into teaching journalism for the first time. Yet, more experienced teachers also benefit from the minimal prep time and access to exceptional resources.”

Check them out at http://www.schooljournalism.org/journalism-training/


Scholarship Opportunity

The Karl Monroe Scholarship will be awarded to an entering freshman and renewed for the following seven semesters, providing the  student continues as a full-time student in the School of Journalism at SIUC and maintains a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.  The student must be recommended by a high school publications adviser or English teacher, have been involved in student publications or newspaper stringing while in high school and express an intention to pursue newspaper work as a career.  The student must reside in Southern Illinois.

The scholarship application must be postmarked by April 30, 2016 and should be returned to:

Jack Young, Academic Adviser

School of Journalism

Mailcode 6601

Carbondale, IL  62901

Scholarship Application for Entering JRNL Students 2016-2 (1)

The Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act

House Bill 5902, The Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act,  was filed by Rep Will Guzzardi on Thursday, Feb. 11. The bill guarantees that scholastic journalists are not restricted by prior review, prior restraint or censorship of the content they produce. The bill’s progress is being posted on Facebook on the New Voices Illinois page or on Twitter at ILNewVoices. IJEA is also posting updates on their webpage.

Please, talk to your student journalists, alums and colleagues about the bill and its importance as well as sharing the information with parent groups. The latest update from Stan Zoller is below…
The  bill has advanced out of the Rules Committee and has been assigned to the Judiciary -Civil Committee.

Here’s a link to the committee.  House Judiciary — Civil Committee

Can you see if any of its members may be folks to contact from your neck of the woods?



Registering for IHSA Journalism

Our rep to the IHSA Journalism Contest Committee, Dana Donovan (Okawville) put together a PDF that outlines changes to the contest and how to register. Our plan was to distribute it at the advisers’ meetings, but that didn’t happen, so  we are uploading here for your convenience. Have a great day!

Registering for IHSA Journalism

SISPA 2016

It was a crazy, snowy day at this year’s SISPA Conference, but in spite of lower than average attendance, we had a great day.

Thanks to the staffs at Carbondale, Herrin, Frankfort, Wayne City and Harrisburg for hanging in there and adapting on the fly. On behalf of the planning committee, we truly appreciate your flexibility.

Additional thanks to Kim Green for the keynote address and the senior interview, Kyle Carter for some great photo sessions and Tara Sullivan and her staff for their session on convergence. We also appreciate Donnie Wall who was our news interview subject and Sherida Evans who took time out from her many other duties as our SISPA liaison with the SIUC School of Journalism  to serve as the feature interview subject.

Sheri will be out of her office for a week or so, but when she returns, she will be mailing out awards and information that couldn’t be handed out today due to weather conditions. The list of award winners has been posted on the website as have congratulations to Dr. Manion Rice Yearbook Adviser of the Year winners Monica Sorrels and Trudy Hurd and to Dr. Manion Rice Newspaper Adviser of the Year winner Amanda Thrun. If you happen to see them, congratulate them on a job well-done!

Be on the lookout for a Google Forms survey that’s coming your way soon. The planning committee is looking toward the future of the organization, and we need  your help to make that happen. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you at the Sectionals at SIUC on April 23 and others at the State meet on April 29.

Until then, be sure to send me an email if there’s anything I can do for you.

Best Wishes,