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2024 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year

National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year Logan Aimone with 2023 Honoree Debra Klevans, Photo by Mark Murray

Honoring Our Educators

During a special ceremony at the 100th Annual Spring Convention, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association honored Logan Aimone as the National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year. Seven other educators were also honored as Distinguished Advisers and Special Recognition Advisers. 

On March 14, 2024, during a special ceremony in Low Memorial Library at the 100th Annual Spring Convention, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) honored Logan Aimone as the National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year. Seven other educators were also honored as Distinguished Advisers and Special Recognition Advisers. Thank you to the Dow Jones News Fund for their generous support of this program.

The following citations were read during the awards convocation.

Logan Aimone, 2024 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year

In his almost three decades in scholastic journalism and two decades in the classroom, Logan Aimone has made a powerful and lasting impact on journalism and those he has taught. He has done this in multiple ways: in his work as an instructor, as the leader of national student press organizations, and as a stalwart proponent of student press rights.

As an educator, Aimone has turned his students into leaders by allowing them to take charge. He has done this by enabling them to pursue stories they think are important, and in doing so, he has helped them navigate the challenges of being journalists. He notes, “My students are innovative, mature, and even charming as they work to report a story, and their tenacious and sensitive treatment of stories bolsters their reputation among members of our school community.” 

He says he sees himself more as a journalism coach or consultant to his students. “I facilitate growth,” he says, “[by] challenging each student to stretch and learn at the appropriate pace, and building on each success.” That success is evident not only in the awards The Midway and other publications he has advised have won but also in the lasting influence Aimone has had on his students who have graduated. Former student Téa Tamburo writes, “As I progressed through the journalism program and gained leadership, Mr. Aimone challenged me to ensure I continued to improve as a reporter and editor. …His confidence in me gave me a passion for editing and a sense of fulfillment in providing quality and timely news to the school community.” 

In the six years he was the executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association, Aimone guided the development of national standards for critiques and contests and led national conventions and workshops for scholastic and collegiate journalists. He also served on the board of directors for the Washington Journalism Education Association in various roles for nine years, including seven summers directing or co-directing its summer workshop.

In his various roles in his seven years on the Student Press Law Center’s board of directors, including chair and vice chair, Aimone was the only high school educator. As such he strove to ensure that educators’ needs were represented in strategic discussions about the evolving role of the center to support student journalists and advisers. 

In a journalism environment in which we see the rise of social media as the news platform, where public trust in the media is eroding and the swift uptake of AI needs to be moderated, our duty as educators is more important than ever. As well, the massive societal changes affecting professional journalists are also affecting their scholastic counterparts. Aimone writes, “The preamble to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics reads that ‘public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy.’ Student journalists are gatekeepers and agenda-setters to public enlightenment. They can help audiences understand what is authentic and valuable and what is fake. As journalism educators, we must equip student journalists with the skills to be skeptical as they step into the role of watchdog—respectful and unequivocal but also sensitive as they seek and report the truth.” Thank you, Logan, for all you have done in support of your students, other advisers, and scholastic journalism as a whole. Congratulations on this award. So well-deserved.


2024 Distinguished Adviser Andrew Chambers

2024 Distinguished Adviser Andrew Chambers, of Horse Creek Academy in Aiken, South Carolina, has been teaching for 17 years. He is the media director there; the adviser of HCA Today, a daily broadcast journalism program, and the HCA Today podcast; and co-adviser of the online newspaper. His students also run the Horse Creek Media social media accounts. There are 80 students in the media program. 

The program includes middle school digital arts and high school film and TV and journalism classes. “This is my first year teaching middle school, and I love it,” Chambers says. “I see the impact I have with younger students, and it will directly impact the recruitment and growth of the high school program as they move up. Teaching middle and high school students has its challenges, but overall it is truly transforming my teaching career and view of scholastic journalism. All students of all grades have something to say. Until this year, they didn’t have an outlet. I am honored to be the one to guide them from the very start.”

He cites the lack of digital media skills as the most pressing issue facing scholastic journalism. He writes, “Digital platforms are the new primary medium to consume news, [and] scholastic journalism faces a significant challenge in preparing students to navigate and contribute to the evolving landscape of digital media. Many student journalists lack sufficient digital media literacy skills, including understanding online ethics, fact-checking in the digital age, and utilizing multimedia tools effectively. This issue hinders their ability to produce credible, engaging, and responsible journalism for their digital publications.” We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations, Andrew.


2024 Distinguished Adviser Justin Daigle

2024 Distinguished Adviser Justin Daigle, of Brighton High School in Brighton, Colorado, has been teaching for 20 years. Under his guidance, Brighton High School has accumulated a vast number of awards. But it’s not just his students who benefit from his knowledge and experience. Daigle generously gives his time to the scholastic journalism community through frequent speaking engagements, workshops, and his dedication to judging for various organizations, including CSPA.

He says the most pressing issues facing scholastic journalism are adviser attrition and the lack of adviser mentorship. He writes, “Ask any adviser you know. They have continued to say [this] for the past few years: ‘This year was rough. It was harder than the year before.’ The pandemic impacted so many aspects of what we do every day, including how we yearbook. Though I believe we learned a lot of great things about stories we could tell or ways we could organize our yearbooks, the one story that can’t be ignored is how advisers—novices and veterans—are leaving the profession of advising and even teaching. As we see more new advisers joining our journalism family, it is up to us to welcome and support them.” Indeed. Congratulations, Justin.


2024 Distinguished Adviser Leland Mallet

2024 Distinguished Adviser Leland Mallet, of Legacy High School in Mansfield, Texas, has been teaching for 24 years. He writes that when he started teaching, he was welcomed by an abandoned bottle of Tums in the previous adviser’s desk drawer. But he forged on, and in 2007 he took a new position at Legacy, where he still is today. While the “adventure” was like starting over, he forged on—again—guiding his students to national awards: Crowns and Pacemakers. He didn’t say whether there are still any Tums in his desk, but he says that after 16 years at Legacy, he loves his job more each day. He writes, “I love the art of teaching kids how to become storytellers.”

Tums jokes aside, he says that the most pressing issue facing scholastic journalism is a lack of support for advisers. He writes, “Journalism education is at a pivotal point in time. … We are in dire need of journalism educators who are in it for the long haul. I’m seeing a mass turnover of teachers, and especially experienced journalism teachers. Each year, there is a new, young teacher “assigned” to teach newspaper or yearbook. After visiting with my yearbook rep, we both see this happening in high schools as well. To me, this makes CSPA and other organizations even more relevant and important for the future of high school journalism. The question that needs to be answered is, “What are we doing to help new advisers?”


2024 Special Recognition Adviser Louisa Avery

2024 Special Recognition Adviser Louisa Avery, of the American School in London, in the United Kingdom, is in her 19th year of teaching and 18th year of advising—but you should know that her journalism career stretches back even farther. She dabbled in broadcasting in the fifth grade, designed and produced a class newsletter, and was an aspiring author—all in the same year. As an end-of-year present for her teachers, she gave them the first chapter of her book. In eighth grade, she and some friends were forced to go rogue to produce their own yearbook. With the help of the school librarian, the group printed and stapled copies for distribution. Definite foreshadowing.

You may have guessed what comes next: Her love of writing and journalism led her to attend the Academy of Journalism at the local technical high school, where she excelled. However—incoming plot twist!—it was then she decided she didn’t want to be

a journalist but, instead, a journalism teacher. Upon hearing this, her adviser said, “Be careful what you wish for.” The rest is history.

Avery teaches four journalism classes and writes that one point of pride for her is that 88% of students who take a journalism class continue in journalism until they leave the school.

She’s also made important changes, like putting more emphasis on the online newspaper and switching to SNO, so her students have more control of publishing. Her students have won many awards under her stewardship and have certainly benefited from her extensive knowledge and experience. She also serves as a mentor to other advisers. Thank you for all you do as an educator, Louisa. But now that we know about your book, we’ll want you to finish it. Congratulations, Louisa, on this award.


2024 Special Recognition Adviser Sandra Coyer

2024 Special Recognition Adviser Sandra Coyer, of Puyallup High School in Puyallup, Washington, has been teaching journalism and media for 25 years. Her interest in journalism began in ninth grade. She worked on both yearbook and newspaper and continued journalism in college. But once there, as she pursued her interest in magazine editing, something didn’t quite feel right. After some contemplation, her thoughts turned toward her own high school journalism teacher, and she realized that teaching journalism was the right path for her. 

She currently teaches yearbook, video production, and newspaper production. She shares with her students real-life challenges other students have faced to help prepare them for any upcoming roadblocks. “My role is to make sure they have the knowledge they need (about content as well as legal/ethical concerns) to do the work they need to do,” she says, adding that this training extends to media literacy before they become members of the community at large: “Journalism is also fundamental to a democratic society.” However, she has concerns about scholastic journalism retaining advisers. “The most pressing issue facing scholastic journalism, she says, is “the retention of new, energetic faces that will take the reins after the rest of us retire.” Congratulations, Sandra. 


2024 Special Recognition Adviser So Hee Tan

2024 Special Recognition Adviser So Hee Tan, of Walnut High School in Walnut, California, says that a random decision to take on yearbook when the adviser was retiring was “the best decision I ever made.” She’s in her 12th year of advising, with small breaks in between. Since 2019, she’s advised both yearbook and newspaper.

While student leaders make the majority of decisions about coverage, story ideas, and other content for both the newspaper and the yearbook, she will at times pitch ideas or bring stories to their attention that may be out of their knowledge base. Her students are proactive, though. In the 2022 mini-mag section of the yearbook, they covered a range of student stories, including that of Andrew, who found himself as main caretaker for his younger sister, who has a physical disability. Mia Luna, a head petty officer in the Naval Sea Cadet Corps, endured and persevered in a military environment she described as “toxic” to women to later become honored as Cadet of the Year. Princess Elaine, whose family emigrated from the Philippines, proudly turned a hobby of doing nails into a small home-based business that supplements the family’s income while paying homage to her grandparents.

An issue Tan is concerned about is news literacy in the age of AI. She writes, “It would be easy to lament the ‘good old days’ when society trusted trained journalists to curate and filter out the nonsense. That sort of gatekeeping has gone away as social media has created a new generation not of ‘journalists’ per se but of ‘content creators.’ We need everyone to learn how to navigate content (consuming and producing) for our society to progress. There needs to be a heightened level of news literacy not just amongst the next generation of career journalists, but amongst the next generation of citizens.” Congratulations, So Hee, on all you have accomplished.


2024 Special Recognition Adviser Sergio Yanes

2024 Special Recognition Adviser Sergio Yanes, of Arvada High School in Arvada, Colorado, unfortunately can’t be with us today, but I’d like to share his citation. He has a history of journalism in the family, back to his grandfather, who was a broadcaster in Venezuela, and his mother, who was a graphic designer. Journalism is literally in his blood. He advises a convergent news staff that includes web, social media, video. The program is dual-language, in English and Spanish, and they publish the news in English and Spanish. While he doesn’t  make decisions on content, he says—that is entirely up to the editors and their staff—“I do ask a lot of questions. When obstacles or challenges arrive, I facilitate discussion toward a student-driven resolution so that the publication may move forward confident in their decision.”

He writes that “one pressing issue facing scholastic journalism is expanding equity and inclusion to include belonging and access. For decades now, the practice of scholastic journalism has been a privilege afforded to those schools that have the resources and the social clout to bring on and retain knowledgeable teachers and advisers. We see this reinforced in the recognition of programs at various stages of critiques and awards, where ‘established’ programs mainly look a certain way. That is not to detract from the strong work students do within these programs, nor is it to say that there is no diversity or inclusion within these programs. It is simply to say that this trend also highlights where we are lacking as a nation.”  Congratulations, Sergio, on your award.

Photos by Mark Murray, CSPAA Chair of Committee on New Technology