Julia Satterthwaite takes on the challenge of creating a yearbook
Written by Sarah Scott
Julia Satterthwaite, MJE, recently made some big changes in her life. She and her family moved from Michigan to California. She took a job at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, California. This year, for the first time, Satterthwaite added “yearbook adviser” to her list of roles. Yearbook Chat with Jim host Jim Jordan chatted with Satterthwaite about how she got where she is and what she’s doing with her new role.
“I will be learning every day this whole year, I have no doubt,” Satterthwaite said.
You can listen to their conversation on the Yearbook Chat with Jim podcast, available at walsworthyearbooks.com/podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts, including iTunes, Spotify and Stitcher.
Satterthwaite’s advising career began in 2005 at Rochester High School in Rochester Hills, Michigan, where she advised the staff of the school’s news site. Under her leadership, The Talon won two Pacemaker awards. She chose the school because of the diverse student population.
“I saw the value of having a class discussion when not everyone has the same life experience,” she said. One of her most challenging tasks as a teacher at Rochester High was helping students from many different backgrounds find success.
She leaned on support from fellow journalism instructors during her first few years. They all shared resources, and Satterthwaite’s staff started winning national awards.
When two friends of Satterthwaite and her husband moved from Michigan to California – a couple that includes yearbook adviser Brian Wilson, MJE – the same idea entered their heads. In Michigan, she faced growing class sizes, teacher salary caps and limited student press freedom laws.
“It’s just such a better way to live,” she said about California’s student press protections. “I know that my kids experience these freedoms, and they kind of take them for granted here.”
Wilson notified Satterthwaite’s husband – who is also a journalism teacher – about a job opening out west, so he started the application process. Then Satterthwaite got a tip about another opening near where her husband was applying.
They didn’t know if they would move, but when both Satterthwaite and her husband got job offers one day apart, it sealed their fate.
“I called Rob … and I was like ‘I guess we’re moving to California!’”
Satterthwaite came to Monta Vista as a journalism teacher, but she hadn’t ever advised a yearbook. After three years at Monta Vista, the opportunity came up, and in year 14 of teaching, she became a yearbook adviser for the first time.
“It’s not a decision I made lightly. I had been contemplating it for the last few years,” Satterthwaite explained about her decision to advise Monta Vista’s 2020 yearbook. She wasn’t sure she had the time or knew how to do it, but the former adviser was stepping down and she didn’t want the program handed over to someone with no experience teaching journalism. Satterthwaite sought out advice from others in the scholastic journalism community, including her husband, and decided to make the leap to yearbook.
She said she’s enjoying learning new things in a challenging environment.
Check back on our blog and the Yearbook Chat with Jim podcast all year to as host Jim Jordan checks in with Satterthwaite and her staff throughout the year.