February 14, 2024 / Podcasts

Introducing: That Yearbook Podcast With Mike, Jim and Sabrina

Written by Danielle Finch

Welcome to That Yearbook Podcast, the series where yearbook experts Mike Taylor, CJE, Jim Jordan and Sabrina Schmitz, CJE, take us on a delightful journey through their personal connections to yearbooks and the fascinating world of student journalism. The trio shares their unique stories and experiences that have shaped their perspectives on creating amazing yearbooks.

Jim Jordan: Seasoned Yearbook Expert

Jim Jordan traces his Walsworth roots back to a yearbook from 1946. In the late 30s, the three Walsworth brothers began barnstorming the Midwest, initially creating programs for plays and later documenting veterans’ stories post-World War II. While visiting one of his mom’s friends in Athens, Michigan in the 1990s, he saw a community WWII veterans book published by Walsworth in the company’s early years and Walsworth was printing the yearbook he was advising.

Embarking on his yearbook journey in the fall of 1982, Jim, a former aspiring architect who became an English teacher, took on advising at Del Campo High School. At a yearbook workshop in the summer of 1984, he met yearbook legends Bruce Watterson, H.L. Hall and Tom Rolnicki, who became his mentors and fueled his growing passion for scholastic journalism.

In 1986, Jim and his staff were technology pioneers who became the first Walsworth school to produce a yearbook using Macintosh computers. Over his 35-year advising career, Jim sought to create award-winning yearbooks, but his deeper satisfaction came from witnessing the transformative impact creating a yearbook had on his students. His dedication to yearbooks goes beyond aesthetics, recognizing the invaluable skill set students acquire during the process.

In 1996, he was named the National Yearbook Adviser of the Year by JEA. He also was awarded the CSPA Gold Key, the JEA Medal of Merit and the NSPA Pioneer Award. Now with Walsworth, he serves as the lead mentor for the company’s Adviser Mentor Program and is the host of “Yearbook Chat with Jim,” a podcast that tells compelling stories of those who create yearbooks. In 2021, he received the Teacher Inspiration Award from JEA.  In May 2022 the Decamhian was recognized as having earned the second-highest number of Pacemaker Awards in the 100 years of the organization – 20 Pacemakers and seven Pacemaker Finalists.

As an integral part of the Elite Weekends, Jim continues to draw inspiration from the yearbook legends, passing on the torch to new generations. Jim Jordan’s narrative encapsulates a remarkable journey from an unexpected start in yearbooks to becoming a revered figure in the industry. His commitment to innovation, mentorship and enduring impact on students distinguishes him as a true luminary in the world of yearbooks.

Mike Taylor, CJE: Yearbook Powerhouse

Mike Taylor embarked on his journey during his high school years when fortune led him from honors chemistry to the enticing world of journalism. At the hands of his chemistry teacher turned mentor, Mike found his way into the school newspaper, marking the inception of his enduring love for journalism.

Teaching at Crystal River Middle School, Mike didn’t settle for mediocrity. He challenged the status quo and took over the publications, shaping them into award-winning entities. His encounter with Rick McNeil at an FSPA workshop fueled his passion further, propelling him into the world of yearbooks.

Mike’s transformative experience at a state journalism conference solidified his commitment, inspiring him to craft yearbooks that transcended mere photo collections. His transition from print to technology, embracing Mack Classics and honing his skills under the guidance of influential figures like Karl Zimmerman, marked a pivotal moment in his career.

Leaving an indelible mark at Taylor Publishing, Mike’s dedication to hands-on learning and punctuality became synonymous with his workshops. His commitment to starting workshops on time, even if the information was imperfect, laid the foundation for his renowned Adviser Academy, now a staple in the yearbook community.

With an impressive portfolio of advising eight yearbooks at the high school level, Mike seamlessly transitioned into the role of National Account Manager/Journalism Specialist with Walsworth, where he could impact a multitude of yearbook programs. Mike’s ability to make everyone feel important, from students to advisers, remains one of his defining traits. His legacy includes leading Adviser Academy and the elevation of workshops like Elite Weekend, where his commitment to excellence in yearbooks continues to shine.

Sabrina Schmitz, CJE: Enthusiastic Thought Leader 

Sabrina Schmitz initially avoided yearbook and newspaper activities in high school but later pursued a journalism major in college with a focus on magazines. When teaching, she aimed to take over the newspaper program, but circumstances led her to reluctantly assist with the yearbook. Unexpectedly, she discovered a passion for yearbook design and became deeply committed to it.

Sabrina’s journey through workshops and conferences exposed her to the dynamic world of yearbook design, where she embraced new technologies and methodologies. Under the mentorship of industry leaders, she honed her skills, pushing the boundaries of traditional yearbook conventions.

Sabrina’s influence can still be felt at JW Mitchell High School, and her dedication to fostering creativity and storytelling became synonymous with her workshops. Sabrina’s commitment to empowering students to find their unique voice and tell their own stories laid the foundation for her acclaimed spring workshop. 

Sabrina’s transition from teacher to a sought-after speaker and consultant showcased her passion for sharing her knowledge. Her impressive portfolio includes advising multiple award-winning yearbooks and contributing articles to esteemed publications, solidifying her status as a respected voice in the yearbook community.

Known for her infectious enthusiasm, Sabrina’s ability to connect with students and advisers alike became a defining trait. Her legacy includes the establishment of the spring workshop, a testament to her commitment to pushing the boundaries of traditional yearbook storytelling.

Moving Toward Journalistic Excellence

The trio discusses the transformation of yearbooks from mere scrapbooks to journalistic endeavors. Mike emphasizes the importance of starting workshops on time and creating hands-on experiences, a philosophy he adopted from his early encounters with influential advisers. The podcast provides insights into the intellectual stimulation derived from challenges, constant innovation and the impact yearbook creation has on students.

Learn More From our Brand New Podcast

The first episode of That Yearbook Podcast provides a captivating glimpse into the personal and professional experiences that have shaped the perspectives of Mike, Jim and Sabrina. Listeners are invited to join the trio in future episodes as they explore diverse topics related to the world of yearbooks and student journalism.


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Danielle Finch

Danielle Finch is a former journalism adviser at Smithville High School and now works as a Digital Marketing Specialist for Walsworth. Danielle's passions lie in writing, managing web content and representing the needs of advisers.