IJEA Blog: We are stronger together, so join a journalism organization today!

IJEA's president knows from experience just how helpful an association of fellow journalism educators can be. Consider joining one today. It helps to know you're not alone out there!

September 12, 2016

Just over a decade ago, I left a 15-year career in broadcast news to become a high school teacher and scholastic media adviser.

Administrators and even teachers told me to severely alter my expectations. Students can’t perform “professional journalism.” They go to college for that.

brad-bennewitz-photoI was perplexed. Aren’t teachers supposed to bring out the best of what students can do? My own high school journalism experience was robust. It was encouraging, exciting, empowering.

“Ah, but that was before Hazelwood,” I was told. “Things are different now.”

As I navigated the rough waters of a new profession by day and an infant son by night, the last thing I wanted to do was rock the boat with no job security to fall back on.

Two years later, I attended an ASNE Reynolds High School Journalism Institute, and my proper view of scholastic journalism was restored.

In short, the awesome staff at Kent State taught me what the 1988 Hazelwood case did not allow (despite administrative beliefs). I learned that students absolutely could be trusted with professional responsibilities, and that journalism is journalism, no matter on which level it is performed.

The ASNE camp included a JEA membership, which led me to my first national convention in St. Louis. There, I met more incredible people, this time with IJEA.

How does that old commercial go? “I liked it so much, I bought the company”? Well, I didn’t buy the IJEA (on a teacher’s salary? Please!), but I so deeply believe in the organization’s mission that I joined the board, became an officer, and for now, I have the amazing honor to serve as the board president.

Being IJEA board members doesn’t change who we are. We are teachers. We have widely varying backgrounds and face widely varying challenges, and so do our students.

I’ll bet you do too, and your students are an awful lot like our own.

We are here to help you.

Through this weekly blog, we hope to pass on helpful resources, teaching tips, even lesson plans.

We are here to encourage.

We want to offer anything that will help simplify the adviser’s role, enhance the students’ experiences, ease relationships with administrators and improve the overall quality of scholastic journalism.

Contact us. Look for us at the various scholastic journalism gatherings. Let us know how we can help.

We are stronger together.

I know from experience.

Brad Bennewitz graduated from the University of Kansas in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. He worked for Galesburg Broadcasting Company from 1991 to 2006, then started teaching at Galesburg High School where he is in his 11th year of advising the school newspaper, the GHS Budget. In 2010, he returned to radio part time to broadcast high school football and boys basketball games. He and his wife, Kelli, have been married since 1994, and they have two children.

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