February 28, 2012 / Staff Management

2011 Yearbook Adviser of the Year instills confidence

Written by Elizabeth Braden, CJE

Sometimes when people ask her about her job, Kim Green, yearbook adviser at Columbus North High School in Columbus, Ind., tells them she is the official copy maker for her media students. She considers that a reflection of the abilities of her students – that they are capable of doing their jobs for the school’s yearbook and newsmagazine.

“The future is in very good hands. My kids never cease to amaze me,” Green said. “They are running the program. I’m just so proud to be a part of their successes… and fun.”

Green makes more than copies for her students, as evidenced by her recent honor as 2011 JEA Yearbook Adviser of the Year. The award is in recognition of work with students inside her classroom and across the country at workshops and conventions. In her career, Green also has garnered Dow Jones News Fund Distinguished Adviser and Indiana Journalism Teacher of the Year awards, and the Log yearbook has earned awards from the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA), the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) and the Indiana High School Press Association.

All of these awards reflect the enthusiasm Green has for teaching and for her students. In her 34 years of teaching, and her 25 years of advising student media, she said she has never worked a day in her life.

Green may claim that, but Matt Lahr, press secretary for Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana, disagrees. Lahr said he was a freshman about the time Green was starting to teach journalism at Columbus North. He took classes from Green every year, spending a half of day under her guidance his senior year in 2000-2001 on the newspaper and yearbook staffs and in a public relations class.

He said Green had a vision of what she wanted to do, and she worked 12-14-hour days in her first few years in that position to lay the foundation for the program at the school.

For her hard work and impact on students, Lahr said she was very deserving of the award.

“She was the teacher I had that made the biggest difference in my life,” Lahr said. “Definitely some of what I do in my job today I learned in her classes. She also helped me believe in myself, which has made a difference throughout my life.”

Kim Maxwell Vu, a 2000 graduate of Columbus North, said Green instilled confidence in her students, teaching them to not be afraid to be involved in the community. He said being encouraged to be active in the small town of Columbus, Ind., was great practice for the future.

“I think that is why many of us are successful,” said Vu, the art director of the Washington Post’s Sunday Style section. “We weren’t limited to what we had around us. She gave us the feeling that anything was possible and we just had to go out and do it.”

In his nomination letter for the JEA award, David Clark, Columbus North’s principal, also indicated that Green is a teacher who knows how to create the proper environment for students to learn for themselves.

“I honestly appreciate the relationship that Mrs. Green has with her students. She teaches them correct principles and allows them to govern themselves. This dynamic is one of the most rewarding I’ve witnessed in my 21 years as an administrator,” Clark said.

Green said she knew her career choice early in her life.

“I loved high school and high school loved me,” she said, adding that every day she gets to “play school.”

Green knew she wanted to be an English teacher. As she was graduating from college, school districts were tightening their budgets. Her mother, who also was a teacher, advised her to make herself marketable. And that is when she decided to add journalism to her expertise.

She taught English and journalism at a smaller school before going to Columbus North.

Green said she has only been involved with JEA for about 10 years and appreciates the organization’s support system and educational resources and opportunities.

“Nobody knows what it’s like to be us. Just belonging to a group of people who have walked in our shoes is empowering and comforting,” Green said.

Green, who is JEA’s Certification Commission chair, will be honored during the adviser luncheon April 14 at the 2012 JEA/NSPA Spring National Journalism Convention in Seattle, Wash. With the award, she will receive $1,000 for the yearbook program at her school or to fund scholarships to summer workshops.

“I believe a lot of our success is in getting kids to workshop. A little scholarship money should help with that,” she said.

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Elizabeth Braden, CJE

Elizabeth Braden, CJE, is the former editor of Idea File magazine. Before retiring, she was a copywriter for Walsworth Yearbooks for more than 15 years, writing articles for various marketing materials, and proofreading copy for the Yearbook and Commercial divisions. Her career included reporting and editing for United Press International and editing for Knight-Ridder Financial News. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Media News from the University of Tulsa.