Mentors, Mentees learn from each other

Martha Rothwell

The year has been a roller coaster of ups and downs for current as well as former mentees. Fortunately, the ups heavily outweigh the downs. As always through mentoring, I continue to learn from my mentees. They certainly reinforce the idea that the future of journalism education in North Carolina is healthy.

SECOND-YEAR MENTEE STEVE HANF, adviser of Pine Whispers newspaper at RJ Reynolds in Winston-Salem, N.C., has a strong program with a full schedule next year advising the newspaper and his newly acquired responsibility advising the yearbook. He will no longer teach any English classes and will devote his entire day to publications.

One of Steve’s greatest successes is his use of social media. Pine Whispers presence on Facebook, blog, Twitter, and pinewhispers.com has reached not only students and staff, but also parents and community. The timely coverage of breaking news has caught the attention of the readership. With over 1000 tweets and 290 friends on Facebook, the numbers continue to grow. Students and parents are reading information that affects them on a daily if not hourly basis.

The success of the program has not gone unnoticed. During this past year, the Parent Teacher Student Association contributed to new equipment and software for the journalism class because of, as they said, “what Pine Whispers is doing for the school.” The Winston Salem Journal ran a front page story about Pine Whispers, particularly covering their new digital archiving project. SIPA also recognized Pine Whispers as an All-Southern publication.

Money, as for most scholastic newspapers, is an obstacle. Steve researched and contracted a new printer for the paper and has applied for numerous grants that will be awarded later. While still printing a 24-page, full-color newspaper, the program ended the year with a budget surplus.

With his active involvement in both NCSMA and SIPA, he will continue to nurture his professional growth. He will attend the NCSMA summer institute with four students this summer. In the fall, he will attend the SIPA executive board meeting as a newly appointed member. Steve adamantly plans to devote his career to journalism education.

SECOND-YEAR MENTEE GREG KEYS, adviser of the Lake Norman Script at Lake Norman High School in Mooresville, N.C., has also found numerous successes in the journalism classroom. He describes the greatest success as what goes on in the daily functioning of the class. Although Greg has both beginning journalism students as well as the production staff in one class, he has made the program work. The access to the Mac lab has made a big difference in the structure of the class.

The staff has met deadlines, and, as Greg says, has “finally gotten it” –  the organization of the production process. Having a dependable photographer makes the process much easier also. However, they continue to make the same small, careless mistakes, frustrating Greg. He always wants more, to meet a higher standard. The students have independently taken on more initiative this year by exploring new techniques in design as is reflected in their eye-catching news magazine.

Greg has always had the support of his administration and community. He is highly respected by both. When a position for the Blended Learning Coach opened at LNHS, Greg applied and was quickly hired. His expertise with technology and success in the classroom make him the perfect fit for this position. This, however, will leave the newspaper without an adviser. Greg is helping in the search for a new adviser. The newspaper is valued at Lake Norman High School; thus, the program is scheduled to continue.  I will meet with the principal to continue my mentoring with the new adviser.

As these Greg and Steve move out of the mentoring program, their influence on the successes at their schools will continue to impact scholastic journalism, and two first-year mentees will continue that same tradition and are already building strong foundations for the future of their programs.

FIRST-YEAR MENTEE JUNE ASHBY, adviser of the Howler at Glenn High School in Kernersville, N.C., is in her second year as an adviser. The class has maintained a website and produced two print editions this past year. June and the staff have worked to improve their journalistic writing and to increase the number of issues next year. June wants to develop a program that coordinates the newspaper and website schedules, so staffers can follow a consistent process of production.

June takes advantage of every learning opportunity. She and her editor are attending NCSMA summer institute. (While there, June is going to talk to adviser Robin Sawyer, who has successfully achieved a program of multiple productions.) This summer she is also taking the UNC graduate course for broadcast. She attended the SIPA convention in March.

This past year, she has upgraded her website service and has gained four new computers with InDesign. Previously, the printer has designed the newspaper for the staff. With the new equipment and new software, the staff will able to design the newspaper themselves. Design will be a major step for June and the staff this next year.

June’s positive attitude and diligent work ethic will make her a success in this program. She loves what she does and wants to achieve a higher level of success.

FIRST-YEAR MENTEE KELLI SELF, adviser at AC Reynolds High School in Asheville, N.C., is in her first year as an adviser. Kelli shares the same attitude and work ethic as June. To keep the journalism program alive after the retirement of a veteran adviser, Kelli, the media coordinator, volunteered to advise the program. Rather than advising a print newspaper production class, she chose to work with broadcast and website production. Every other week, the staff produced a broadcast and kept the website updated daily. By the end of her first year, she had also coached the staff through their production of an impressive senior print edition.

Kelli has been innovative in the program. With limited funds, she has improvised broadcast equipment and consistently presented a news broadcast for the school.

Her innovation extends beyond the equipment. She has also coordinated unusual fundraisers, used creative means to increase views of the website, and has successfully made the presence of the media program known to the school population in a very positive way.

Kelli has increased the financial support of the program by applying and receiving a number of local grants, allowing her to purchase mini-Macs for her staff. Because of her experience and success with grant writing for her school, Kelli has agreed to work with SIPA Endowment Committee in developing a new technology grant. She wants to be involved with the journalism organizations.

Kelli has transitioned the journalism program from the former adviser to her own new ways. She has seen what she needs to do and has created a way to make the program successful. She has developed her own grading system that is compatible with her school system. She has revised current materials to fit the demands of her program. Her students are not only enjoying the success of the program but also anticipating new and better experiences for next year.

As I write about these mentees, I become excited. I invite you to visit the classrooms of these advisers. You, too, will be excited. They have fresh new ideas, they use innovative technology and they love what they are doing. The future of scholastic journalism is in good hands.

See S.C Mentors and Mentees