The official site of Texas Association of Journalism Educators


The official site of Texas Association of Journalism Educators


The official site of Texas Association of Journalism Educators


Fall Fiesta 2023 award winners are honored at the ILPC Spring Convention

LaJuana Hale accepts the Trailblazer Award and Will Skelton accepts the Administrator of the Year Award. Both from Marcus High School, they received their Fall Fiesta 2023 awards at the ILPC Spring Convention in April. Photo courtesy of CADY.

TAJE honored LaJuana Hale with a Trailblazer Award and her principal, Will Skelton, as the Administrator of the Year at the ILPC Spring Convention awards assembly on Sunday, April 21. Both are from Marcus High School and were honored for awards they received at the Fall Fiesta 2023 Convention for which they could not attend.

LaJuana Hale currently teaches DC English at Marcus High School and journalism classes at UNT. Corey Hale of Lewisville High School nominated her for the Trailblazer Award.

“LaJuana has continually instilled in her students a true spirit of journalism, enabling them to tackle important issues on both the local and national level, by producing thoroughly-researched, well-written and ethical news stories and editorials,” Corey Hale said. “She consistently pushes her staffers to step up and be the journalists her community needs.”

Most recently, LaJuana Hale was the print and online newspaper and broadcast adviser at Marcus and has taught high school journalism classes for over 20 years. She has also spent many summers as an instructor at the NSPA Gloria Shields Media Workshop.

“She knows how to push kids to reach their potential as journalists, but she also nurtures them as humans and has built a truly caring community and culture there at Marcus,” Corey Hale said. “She also pours out this same caring, interest, and enthusiasm into others she meets: editors at Gloria Shields, students from other schools with whom she strikes up conversations with at workshops and conventions, and teachers in our district and others.”

LaJuana Hale nominated her principal for the Administrator of the Year Award. This award is presented annually to school administrators who demonstrate support for scholastic journalists and journalism education.

“Mr. Skelton is a firm believer in the importance of our students giving a voice to our community even when the subjects are difficult,” LaJuana Hale said. “An example of this is the racism issue we did this year, where we gave the minorities on campus a voice. Some of the comments we shared were painful for my students as well as for our readers. Instead of wanting to bury problems, which is common in our ‘bubble town’ of Flower Mound, he was quite supportive of this story because he believed that our writing could help bring needed awareness to this problem.”

In the spring of 2023, Marcus journalism students wanted to provide fair coverage to their school and community for the upcoming school board election.

“I reached out to Mr. Skelton early to enlist his help navigating our current tricky school board waters,” LaJuana Hale said. “He partnered with us on this story, giving us helpful suggestions. We were all proud of our finished story because town people used it to understand the candidates. No other news outlet provided the interviews we did, and our story had thousands of hits online. I was told by several community members that our story came up first on Google for those wanting to know about this election. We represented the candidates and their ideas fairly, and none complained about our coverage.”

The administrative leadership Skelton provides makes for a positive campus climate for his teachers and their students.

I’ve had other principals who worked with us to produce great work, but they often started with a ‘no’ and we had to talk them into big stories,” LaJuana Hale said. “He starts with a ‘yes’ and works with us to make a story work. In my over 20 years of teaching journalism, we’ve always had good principals to work with at Marcus, but he has been the best in encouraging good journalism.”

Skelton mentioned in his acceptance speech that his grandfather owned a newspaper.

“He even has a picture of that paper in his office,” LaJuana Hale said. “He understands the power of good journalism and wants to encourage students as they write stories that matter to our community.”

TAJE awards will be presented at the 2024 Fall Fiesta in San Antonio. Nomination forms are available now and due June 1.