TAJE

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Officer Elections Set for January

Meet the Candidates

President-Elect
Samantha Berry

Bridgeland High School, Houston
Years Advising: 9
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Online News

BIO: Samantha Berry is the publications adviser at Bridgeland High School in Cypress. She grew up in West Texas and graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in Agricultural Communications, and, no, she sadly cannot communicate with cows. She is a former district Teacher of the Year, TAJE Pathfinder and JEA Rising Star. For the past two years, she has served as the TAJE Secretary. She is generally over-caffeinated and loves a good podcast.

WHY I’M RUNNING: Serving as secretary for (almost) two years has been an excellent experience. In that time, I’ve had a chance to observe and learn from great leaders who are passionate about journalism education and educators. I would love the opportunity to continue the work they do and work to support advisers across the state.

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Secretary
Emily Pyeatt Arnold

Aledo High School, Aledo
Years Advising: 17
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Broadcast, Online News

BIO: My passion for stories emerged during my own high school photography, journalism, broadcasting, English and speech classes and continued throughout college when I worked for The Daily Nebraskan. I began my career in education at Crowley High School teaching English, humanities and film in 2002. After a brief time abroad and out of state, I returned to Texas. I spent the past 10 years teaching and advising at Haltom High School where publications students achieved success in UIL, ILPC, ATPI, Quill and Scroll, NSPA and CSPA contests. I became a Certified Journalism Educator in 2014 and a JEA Rising Star in 2015. Today, I enjoy my new position teaching journalism and professional communications and advising newspaper and yearbook at Aledo High School. I consider myself fortunate to witness students cultivate their own voices in my classes and throughout their lives.

WHY I’M RUNNING: I plastered “Be the change” vinyl stickers across my classroom wall at Haltom years ago. I saw the Gandhi quote daily, but I never recognized all the ways I could positively impact the lives of my students and other educators. Now, I realize I can do more. I am inspired by journalists and journalism teachers. Our role is vital. If we believe we can do more for our students and our profession, now is time to do so. I know it is time for me to step up and be more of the change I wish to see. I would be honored to serve more educators and students through involvement in TAJE.

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Secretary
Natalie Brown

Carroll Senior High School, Southlake
Years Advising: 12
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Broadcast, Online News, News Magazine, Literary Magazine

BIO: Natalie Hankins Brown’s motto is do all the things. For the past 12 years, she has served as the adviser to the yearbook, broadcast, online and print newspapers, most recently at Carroll Senior High. She worked as a reporter, editor and public relations officer before finding her way into journalism education. Brown has been named a JEA Rising Star, District Teacher of the Year, and attended the ASNE Reynolds Institute. Her students continue to make her look good by creating work that has been recognized with ILPC Star awards, CSPA Crowns and as Pacemaker finalists. Brown has her Master of Secondary Education degree from UNT and Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Mississippi. She has two daughters, Harper and Annabelle, and is married to her high school sweetheart and fellow teacher, Damion.

WHY I’M RUNNING: Since I began teaching, TAJE has provided so much to me. From workshops to connections with colleagues, this group of educators has been an invaluable resource. Now that I feel more established in my role as an adviser, I want to give back to my teaching community. The work our students are doing on a daily basis is important and valuable and advisers have so much on their plates. They deserve to have a tribe of people who understand their struggles and can help them to find success and I very much would like to be a part of that tribe.

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Secretary
Margaret Edmonson

Smithson Valley High School
Years Advising: 16
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Broadcast, News Magazine

BIO: After working more than a dozen years at daily newspapers, Margaret Edmonson, CJE, moved to the classroom in 2002 to advise school publications at Burbank High School in San Antonio and Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch. The Ranger yearbook has been featured in the Jostens LookBook for the past nine years, and staffs in both publications have received numerous awards from the Interscholastic League Press Conference, including a Bronze Star for the yearbook.

WHY I’M RUNNING: Advocating for student journalists and their publications while also providing support and educational opportunities for advisers will strengthen the already solid work taking place in the classroom. As a TAJE board member, my goal would be to celebrate our successes while looking for ways to increase membership and participation.

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Secretary
Nima Kapadia

Wakeland High School, Frisco
Years Advising: 10
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook

BIO: Nima Kapadia is currently in her 10th year as a newspaper and yearbook adviser. She teaches at Wakeland High School in Frisco ISD. Kapadia was also the 2014 recipient of the JEA Rising Star award and served as the local write-offs chair for the JEA/NSPA Fall Convention in Dallas. She is also a proud graduate from Southern Methodist University where she earned her undergraduate degree in journalism and master’s degrees in education and educational leadership. A passion of hers is sharing her knowledge about in-depth reporting and helping students find ways to localize national stories for their publications. When she began her teaching career at South Garland High School, her students reported on topics such as the West Nile Virus where they extended their reach into the community to find expert sources. Another strength of hers is yearbook marketing after consistently increasing sales at each campus she taught at using theme-based marketing.

WHY I’M RUNNING: I would like to serve on TAJE’s board because I hope to continue making an impact in scholastic journalism alongside our community of educators. Having grown two journalism programs to be recognized at the local and state level, and stepping into the role as the local write-offs chair for the JEA/NSPA convention last November, provided me with the tools to succeed in this position. Within a few months, I worked with the national committee to secure speakers, judges, and helped coordinate events for the 1,500 students registered in the contests. Above all, it is about mentorship and investing in the community that has supported me. Many of the connections I have made were through conventions such as JEA, ILPC, and TAJE’s Fall Fiesta as an attendee and speaker.

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Secretary
Rachel Kidder

Heritage High School, Midlothian
Years Advising: 6
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Broadcast, Online News, News Magazine

BIO: I stumbled upon scholastic journalism as a fluke my freshman year of high school when the creative writing class didn’t make. But my passion, and now career, in the field is nothing if not my purpose in life. After working on my high school and college yearbooks and earning a degree in journalism education from SFA, I spent a year as a production artist for a marketing company while searching for an adviser position. I was hired as the yearbook and newspaper adviser at Midlothian High School in 2013 and transferred to the new Midlothian Heritage High School when it opened as a full high school in 2015. I started the Jaguar Media program with 11 brand-new-to-journalism sophomores and juniors, who all worked simultaneously on starting the yearbook, news site and weekly broadcast. Four school years later, the staff now consists of 42 of the best and most dedicated student journalists in Texas, and we’ve added a print news magazine to the slate. When I’m not living in Jaguar Media room 1013, I spend my time at home with my husband, my 19 month son and two dogs in Midlothian. My hobbies include wishing I could nap, looking longingly at my ever-growing list of DVR-ed shows while watching Sesame Street, and listening to true crime podcasts.

WHY I’M RUNNING: Scholastic journalism is my passion, and TAJE has been there since the beginning of my career (and really since I timidly began my J1 class 15 years ago) to guide and support me and my kids. I want to give back in any way I can to offer the same support to journalism advisers across the state.

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Secretary
Mary Beth Lee

Chisholm Trail High School, Fort Worth
Years Advising: 25
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Broadcast, Online News, Literary Magazine

BIO: I’ve advised student media for the last 25 years. I taught 22 years at my first school and made the move to the Metroplex as an empty nester. I’ve learned I still love my job even though the media world is constantly changing. Through all the changes, some that make me question if I have any idea of what I’m doing, I know I can hold fast to my reason for advising: teaching kids to tell stories in all the ways possible on campus because when everything else is gone, the stories remain.

WHY I’M RUNNING: I’ve been on a bit of a personal journey the last few years. I’ve questioned if I belonged in the classroom, even though I love everything about teaching and feel advising is why God put me on earth. For three and a half years I quit doing anything outside my classroom. I focused solely on my kids and their work, and when I moved, I closed off even more. I’m not sure exactly what shifted or why, but before school started this year, in the midst of major grief and a life completely out of control, I decided to say yes again, to start doing more for more. I changed my mindset.
It hasn’t been easy and I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing half the time, but I feel joy in the job again. I’ve always loved TAJE and consider the organization one of the main reasons I’m still an adviser today, and I’d love to give back to the organization that has helped me so much.

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Secretary
Kari Riemer

Hendrickson High School, Pflugerville
Years Advising: 31
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Literary Magazine

BIO: My passion for journalism grew from my love of the written word and the belief that the press gives a voice to the voiceless. I have over 30 years in the public school classroom and have advised school publications for most of them. For the last decade, I have been the publications adviser at a large 6A high school in Pflugerville, Texas, a growing farm/tech suburb outside of Austin. Both the newspaper and yearbook I advise have been nationally recognized and I am a former recipient of the Edith Fox King Award for outstanding dedication to scholastic journalism. I am currently the regional representative for Region 7 of TAJE. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 31 years. We have one daughter, Zoe, who is now a high school journalism teacher herself. We also have a dog named Lilo and cat named Meeko, whose only involvement in journalism is the comfort they give me at deadline time.

WHY I’M RUNNING: I am in my second term as Regional Rep for TAJE. This service has been rewarding to me and I enjoy giving back to an organization that has offered me so much to enhance my ability to do my job well. Being secretary would allow me to take even further responsibility at the state level and through doing so, give more back to the journalism community.

_______________________

Secretary
Lisa Roskens

Prosper High School
Years Advising: 18
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Broadcast, Online News

BIO: Lisa Musser Roskens, who is beginning her first year at Prosper High School, has taught 18 years. Prior to advising the student journalists of EagleNationOnline.com, she led the broadcast, yearbook and newspaper program at Groom High School. In addition to teaching, Roskens has worked as a full-time journalist, stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. This school year will be her eighth to teach scholastic journalism and her second as a career/technical education instructor. Her publishing credits span multiple genres and sources, including National Geographic for Kids and Fort Worth Magazine. Her employment credentials include national trade magazines as well as regional newspapers. Roskens received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a minor in English from Angelo State University and was trained one-on-one by honored and recognized instructors in scholastic journalism.

WHY I’M RUNNING: TAJE members have poured guidance and help into my journalism programs for every year I’ve been leading publications. I’d love to have the opportunity to give back in any way I can.

 

_______________________

State Director
Brian Higgins

Liberty High School, Frisco
Years Advising: 8
Media Advised: Newspaper, Broadcast, Online News, News Magazine

BIO: After attending the University of Missouri’s Graduate School of Journalism, I began my news producing career at KOMU-TV in Columbia, MO. From there, it was on to Chattanooga, TN where I was a news producer for WRCB-TV. After working there for two years I was offered a sports producing job for GameDay Productions in the DFW area where I produced a weekly motorsports show for 5+ years while also covering high school football and basketball. When my oldest child started elementary school I decided to take my journalism experience to the education field. I began teaching at Lovejoy High School where I oversaw the transition of taking The Red Ledger from a printed newspaper to an online only publication. After 5 years at Lovejoy, I decided it would be in my best interest to find a school a bit closer to home and took over the program at Liberty High School where we launched the online news site Wingspan and went from a weekly broadcast show to a daily show.

WHY I’M RUNNING: Now that I am in year 9 of my teaching career, I would like to get more involved in helping journalism teachers and students in Texas. I never fully appreciated the First Amendment and what it offers until becoming a journalism teacher. Of course I learned about it extensively in J-School, but I didn’t become an advocate of all that is stands for until I began teaching students about its importance. But unfortunately Texas does not provide for the explicit protection of high school students from administrative censorship, and I believe it’s time for that to change. As state director, I will do whatever I can to help ensure that all high school journalists are offered the full protections of the First Amendment. With the Texas State Legislature beginning its next session in January 2019, now is the time to act, and there is no time to waste. It may not happen in 2019, but the groundwork needs to be put in place to make this happen as soon as possible. Beyond trying to bring the full protections of the First Amendment to high school students in Texas, I am tired of sitting on the sidelines and letting other people do all the work. It’s time for me to get more involved and do my part to help cement Texas as the home of the best high school journalists in the country.

_______________________

State Director
Michael Reeves

James Bowie High School, Austin
Years Advising: 16
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Online News, Literary Magazine

BIO: Michael is the current adviser of The Dispatch at James Bowie High School. His publications are consistent state and national award winners. While winning awards is always fun and exciting, the past few years have changed journalism dramatically and his personal goals have changed tremendously. Now his big focus is scholastic rights, preserving them in as many places as possible, and pushing his students to explore topics that they wouldn’t have five years ago. When he isn’t at school working with his nearly 150 students across three different courses, he is at home with his family. His 5-year old takes much of his attention, but there isn’t much better to do than coloring, reading, or even watching silly youtube videos with her. In the 30 minutes a day he is willing to give up sleep for, he is reading science fiction or dystopian fantasy books.

WHY I’M RUNNING: I was the State Director two terms ago and I really enjoyed the position. It felt like I was just settling into the position when my time was up. I think, by extending the term to four years, if I were chosen, I will be able to make further inroads into continuing to build the relationship between TAJE and JEA. Another task for this position is choosing the journalists of the year and I really enjoyed leading this task. It is very rewarding to see the work of students around the state and to help pick our representative at the national level. As my program has continued to develop into a nationally recognized program, I am able to attend every convention and I have made numerous connections with both the leaders of JEA and NSPA, and also with other important scholastic leaders across the country. I believe those relationships are important to continue to promote Texas and the amazing advisers and staffs here in our state. One of my other goals is to be involved with some of the JEA committees, especially ones geared toward building the relationship between the scholastic journalism community and the career and technical education programs across the country and in our own state. I believe that CTE is not giving scholastic publications a fair shake when it comes to recognizing what we do and how we serve as an equal in many regards to the other CTE programming, especially in regards to CTSO status. I stepped back from TAJE when my daughter was born and when I switch to my new school. Both are now in place where I can devote more time to this role. I will still be able to be home with my 5-year old, while my program is thriving and I have gotten many pieces in place to help organize and streamline our operations, and forcing students to take on the full responsibilities and leadership roles.

_______________________

State Director
Leah Waters

Heritage High School, Frisco
Years Advising: 8
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Online News, News Magazine

BIO: Leah Waters advises the student media program at Heritage High School in Frisco, TX where students publish a 224-page yearbook and report for an online news site. Waters earned her master’s in journalism from the University of North Texas’ Mayborn School of Journalism and a bachelor’s in journalism from Angelo State University. Waters also advised a student media program at Creekview High School in Carrollton, TX prior to teaching in Frisco. Waters serves as the current TAJE state director.

WHY I’M RUNNING: Serving on the board of TAJE has been one of the greatest rewards of my professional career. I’d like to serve the scholastic journalism advisers in Texas as its state director for another term to continue the efforts from the past two years, the fruits from which are still growing. If I’m elected another term, I plan to commit time and fight tirelessly on the following efforts: (1) working with student activists in the state on securing scholastic press rights legislation; (2) partnering with new advisers to get them connected to resources and mentors in the state; (3) encourage more students to apply for the Journalist of the Year contest and TAJE’s other scholarships; (4) collaborating with the national JEA more to bring innovative solutions to the state’s biggest challenge of CTE funding options. The work of a board member looks a lot like sending and receiving emails, making hard phone calls, completing tedious paperwork, meticulously following through on all the responsibilities of your position. It’s a thankless, exhausting endeavor and rarely generates applause from the crowd. But working with journalism advisers–my people, my tribe of brothers and sisters across the state–is a great joy that I welcome, challenges and victories included.

_______________________

Treasurer
Allison Miller

Marcus High School, Flowermound
Years Advising: 4
Media Advised: Yearbook, Literary Magazine

BIO: I have been teaching at Marcus for 4 years. I advise The Marauder Yearbook and the Insight Literary Magazine. In my short time in this position, I have grown tremendously and so has my love for scholastic journalism. I have taught sessions at CSPA and JEA about organization and InDesign. I absolutely love seeing my kids learn, grow, and reach goals they never thought they would reach.

WHY I’M RUNNING: I believe I have a lot to offer. As an adviser, I have learned to manage my time very well. I am incredibly organized and if there isn’t already a seamless way to do something, I will make every effort to find one. I have a good rapport with others and have made many connections in the scholastic journalism world. I would like to be able to put my skills to good use and have a hand in something greater than just my school.

_______________________

Treasurer
Toni Mitchell

Frisco High School
Years Advising: 30
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Online News

BIO: Hello, I am Toni Mitchell, and as of this year, I have become one of those teachers who can say, “I’ve been teaching for 30-plus years, and…”” However, I don’t teach that way, and I don’t have that mindset. I have had the privledge of teaching in four DFW schools in my career, and I have been in the publication end of teaching for 20 years. I have advised yearbooks at three different schools, and I think I understand the challenges of advising any kind of publication in today’s world, especially with the intense scrutiny going on in society. I started the photojournalism course in Frisco ISD 20 years ago with one DSLR and three lenses, and within six years, we went from exclusively darkroom photography to exclusively digital darkroom. Transitioning the photojournalism program and yearbook from digital to darkroom saved an average of $20,000 a year, according to FISD officials at the time. I don’t like change just to change, but I believe in change when data shows it’s beneficial for teachers and/or learners.

WHY I’M RUNNING: I am interested in this position because I believe I have the skill set for this position. Keeping accurate records and making sure all TAJE purchases are made to help member schools and members is paramount to me. I believe I can do this job and be transparent in regard to the finances of the organization. I would be my honor to represent TAJE as treasurer.

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Treasurer
Katie Moreno

Seven Lakes High School, Katy
Years Advising: 5
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Online News, News Magazine

BIO: With her colorful planner and ice coffee in hand, Katie Moreno walks into her journalism cave on the daily ready to share the best memes, laugh until her eyes water, yell at a few computers and teach a bunch of kids some journalism along the way. She believes in designing a life you love, and works to build a work-hard/play-harder atmosphere in her classroom because she wants to live in a world with smart and savvy journalists. She has been the journalism adviser at Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas since January 2014, after studying Digital Media at the University of Houston. Katie went into marketing, with a goal that she’d be the editor for a prestigious (and beautiful) magazine someday. However, she quickly found that cubicle life just wasn’t for her, and instead she chose to teach teenagers how to tell good stories. When she’s not stuck in a classroom with 23 teenagers frantically editing layouts and arguing over comma placement, she’s probably behind a camera documenting life as it happens or working on her blog, TheOrganizedAdviser.com.

WHY I’M RUNNING: I believe that any organization’s foundation is their finances. Being organized, efficient, and accountable helps the organization run smoothly as well as grow and become a better resource for professionals in the industry it serves. I am trustworthy, hyper-organized, detailed, meticulous, and I’ll keep you laughing along the way.

_______________________

Treasurer
Rebecca Potter

Texas High School, Texarkana
Years Advising: 21
Media Advised: Newspaper, Yearbook, Online News

BIO: Rebecca Potter advises newspaper and yearbook at Texas High School in Texarkana. She has taught journalism for 21 years, and she has served as the TAJE treasurer for the past four years. Publications she has advised have received numerous state and national honors. She received the Edith Fox King Award, TAJE Trailblazer Award and the Max R. Haddick Teacher of the Year Award.

WHY I’M RUNNING: While serving as the TAJE treasurer for the past four years, we have been able to create financial policies and devise a system of accounting that allows the organization to better track its revenue and expenses. Even though we have been able to reach these goals, I would like to continue working toward developing an annual report for the membership that highlights not only our financial position but our programs that support the students and advisers in Texas.

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