Seven people committed to improving scholastic journalism through decades of service have been selected to receive the NSPA Pioneer Award, NSPA’s top honor to individuals. It recognizes substantial contributions to scholastic journalism outside regular job requirements as well as service to NSPA and its programs. This year marks NSPA’s 90th anniversary and 40 years of the Pioneer Award. The 2011 recipients are:
- Kathy Roberts Forde, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of South Carolina, has served scholastic journalism as a high school adviser, contest judge and convention presenter. Forde is a nationally recognized journalism historian and legal scholar who has been active in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and its Scholastic Journalism Division. She served on the board of directors for NSPA for six years, from 2005-2011, four of which were when she was on the faculty of the University of Minnesota.
- Jane Kirtley is the Silha Professor of Media Ethics and Law in the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communications, where she is also the Director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law. A lawyer and former journalist, Professor Kirtley was the Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press from 1984-1999 and is active in Society of Professional Journalists. Kirtley is a frequent speaker on First Amendment, Freedom of Information, media law and ethics. She served on the board of directors for NSPA for six years, from 2005-2011, and was a member of the board of directors for the Student Press Law Center.
- Janet Levin has taught journalism and English and advised The Correspondent newspaper at John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, Ill., since 1985. Levin is a regular convention presenter and was on the Chicago local committees in 1996 and 2005. She has received the Medal of Merit, Teacher Inspiration Award and Master Journalism Educator status from the Journalism Education Association.
- Jeff Nardone has taught English and journalism at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., since 1994. He advises the NSPA Pacemaker-finalist newspaper, The Tower. He is a regular convention and workshop presenter, and is a board member and past president for Michigan Interscholastic Press Association. He is also a contest and critique judge for NSPA. He was a 1999 Distinguished Adviser from the Dow Jones News Fund and a 2008 Gold Key recipient from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.
- Judy Robinson is an assistant professor in the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. She is a former high school adviser and executive director of the Florida Scholastic Press Association. Robinson has been leader in digital media instruction, presenting at conventions and workshops at the state and national levels, and she is active with the JEA mentoring program.
- Debra Rothenberger has taught journalism and English for 32 years, the past 27 at Brandon Valley High School in Brandon, S.D., where she advises the Echo newspaper and Lynxonian yearbook. The Echo was inducted into the NSPA All-American Hall of Fame in 2003. She is an active critique judge for Quill and Scroll and for NSPA, where she annually evaluates dozens of newspapers. She is a Master Journalism Educator from JEA, and she is also the JEA South Dakota state director.
- Robin Gibson Sawyer has taught journalism since 2004 at First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., where she advises the Nighthawk News newspaper, a past NSPA Pacemaker finalist. From 1991-2004, she taught and advised the NSPA Pacemaker-winning Sound to Sea newspaper at Manteo (N.C.) High School. Sawyer was the 2000 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year from the Dow Jones News Fund, and has served on the DJNF board of directors since 2002. She is active in the advisers associations in North Carolina and Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and she is a workshop presenter.
These seven individuals will be honored at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in Minneapolis at the adviser luncheon Nov. 19.
NSPA maintains a composite plaque of Pioneers and displays it at the JEA/NSPA national conventions. Candidates are nominated and selected by previous Pioneer Award winners.
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