National Virtual Workshop Instructor Bios
Get to know your instructors at the National Virtual Workshop.
Kathy Beers is finishing her 25th year in education, teaches photojournalism, contemporary media, and advises The Creek yearbook at Timber Creek High School in Fort Worth, Texas. She guides her students in class and at workshops to push the boundaries in ideas and marketing. Her staff has won numerous awards, including CSPA Gold Medals, NSPA All American and Gold Circle Individual Awards. She adores her family, dogs and yearbooks (in that order). She is a big believer in sharing skills and ideas with the rest of the yearbook family.
Cece Boehme is an English teacher who moonlights as yearbook adviser at West Hills High School in San Diego. She specializes in taking total rookies (mostly freshmen) and getting them comfortable with the basics of writing, photography and design quickly, so they can capture the year. She's a proud nerd, with dogs named after Harry Potter characters and a lovely betta fish named Anafin Waterswimmer, and would love to talk about punny headlines with anyone who is interested. As a Google Ninja, she infuses technology into all aspects of yearbook, and she loves developing systems for keeping things organized. Her guiding principles include “plan the work; work the plan” and “write for now and for 10 years from now.” Cece is in her 26th year of teaching English but loved adding yearbook to her schedule in 2013 because it renewed her connection to the school, allowing her to experience so much more than she saw from just her classroom; she relishes seeing her yerds do the same.
Alyssa Boehringer, CJE, began advising journalism at her alma mater, McKinney High School, in 2005. She advises the MHS1 broadcast, The Lion yearbook and online news site Manestream News. She loves taking kids to journalism conventions all over the state and country, where her students are consistently ranked as some of the top in the nation, including multiple Pacemakers and Best of Show wins from NSPA and a UIL State Championship. A recipient of the Trailblazer Award from the Texas Association of Journalism Educators, the Edith Fox King Award from UIL and the Rising Star Award from JEA, she is president-elect for TAJE and is the 2017 National Broadcast Adviser of the Year for JEA.
Rick Brunson teaches news and sports reporting as an associate instructor of journalism at the University of Central Florida's Nicholson School of Communication and Media. He worked in the sports department of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper for 10 years (2008-2018). He has worked as a professional journalist for 35 years as a reporter and editor. He has taught sports writing and/or feature writing at Walsworth's Camp Orlando training camp for high school journalists every summer since 2009. In addition to teaching, Brunson is the newsroom writing coach for WFTV Channel 9, Orlando's ABC affiliate.
Jason Davis, CJE, is the adviser of the Oro yearbook at Cactus Canyon Junior High in Apache Junction, Arizona. With a background in journalism, he has advised yearbook for 11 years. The most recent volume was an NSPA Pacemaker finalist and All-American, as well as a CSPA Silver Crown winner and Gold Medalist. Davis also advised the school’s various editions of online newspapers, which earned both Gold and Silver Crowns. Cactus Canyon students have been recognized in several individual contests and Davis is proud to have advised the JEA’s 2020 Aspiring Young Journalist. A Minnesota native, Davis enjoys spending time with his wife, Meaghan, and two adorable boys, and is quite obsessed with baseball and Marvel.
Mitchell Franz is an independent photographer, video producer, and marketing strategist. His work includes a wide range of people, places and things: from Ross Perot to Istanbul, Turkey, to medical implants in Memphis. You'll also find Franz working with Jensen Larson Photography of Florida on additional visual projects covering events like Super Bowl parties and the Masters Tournament for luxury brands. A former award-winning scholastic journalistic, Franz actively participated in scholastic journalism throughout high school, garnering many top awards. He teaches photography workshops around the country for many scholastic associations including UIL ILPC, ATPI, NSPA, TAJE, Gloria Shields All-American Publications Workshop and more. You can reach Mitchell at email@example.com.
Courtney Hanks, MJE, advises the Odyssey yearbook and UHS press news team at University High School in Orange City, Florida. She is an advocate for student journalists and advisers alike in their work to grow their journalism knowledge.
Since beginning as an adviser in 2014, she accomplished CSPA, NSPA and FSPA recognition and works to further journalism education through contributions to podcasts, magazines and online.
Bobby Hawthorne is an Austin, Texas, writer and writing instructor. He is the author of the popular textbook, The Radical Write, as well as an assortment of books, handbooks, manuals, monographs and collections of fiction and non-fiction pieces. He has been involved in scholastic journalism since the fall of 1969, and he directed scholastic journalism contests for the University (of Texas) Interscholastic League from 1979-1999. He has received more than his share of accolades, including JEA’s highest award, the Carl Towley Award, and CSPA’s Charles O’Malley Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has also received CSPA’s James F. Paschal Award as the nation’s outstanding scholastic press association director, and the Trailblazer Award from the Texas Association of Journalism Educators, its highest honor.
Jim Jordan is the former yearbook adviser at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California, and now a special consultant for Walsworth. His books at Del Campo consistently won national awards, with the 2015 Decamhian most recently earning an NSPA Pacemaker. He was a yearbook adviser for more than 30 years, and over the years the Decamhian yearbook earned numerous Pacemaker and CSPA Gold Crown honors. Jim was the 1996 JEA Yearbook Adviser of the Year, and shares his expertise with students and advisers at workshops and conventions across the country. He was among the first to embrace desktop technology and apply it to yearbook, and remains an innovator in the yearbook industry.
Tiffany Kopcak, MEd, CJE, NBCT, is the yearbook adviser at Colonial Forge High School in Northern Virginia. Her students' work has earned consistent Gold Medals with All-Colombian Honors, three silver crowns, NSPA All-American recognition, three Pacemaker finalists, and top awards at the state level. In her 14-year career, she has judged for CSPA and NSPA and taught at workshops from NYC to LA, where she promotes interviewing over writing and matching story formats to their purpose.
Samantha Lasarow, CJE, was named one of JEA’s 2019 Rising Stars. She advises the newspaper and the yearbook at El Camino Real Charter High School. NSPA awarded her 2019 yearbook staff with an All American rating for their book. Lasarow developed a love for the empowering effects of scholastic journalism through her experience working on publications at Stanford (Head Copy Editor of the Stanford Daily newspaper, Student Life Editor of the Stanford Quad yearbook, and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Stanford Service in Global Health research journal).
Don Leonard has worked in yearbook technology, sales and production for more than 25 years. He is currently the technology training supervisor at Walsworth and creates much of the training video content used on yearbookhelp.com.
Don's primary role is to train and support Walsworth Sales Representatives and customers on all types of technology used in creating yearbooks.
Leland Mallett, CJE, is the newspaper and yearbook adviser at Legacy High School in Mansfield, Texas. Legacy’s publications have won CSPA Crowns and NSPA Pacemakers in the short time the school has been open. In 2015, Mallett won Texas Journalism Adviser of the Year. He has also won the Edith Fox King Award, TAJE Trailblazer, Dow Jones News Fund Special Recognition Adviser and been named both a Distinguished and Special Recognition Adviser by JEA. This is year 19 of advising for Mallett and he continues to love the art of telling stories. But really, he’s most proud to tell stories about his three kids – of whom he’ll proudly provide a plethora of photos for you.
Vanessa Marie Martinez, now in her sixth year of teaching, graphic design and journalism teacher, received her Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2012. Martinez entered the classroom after working at The City Magazine and The El Paso Times. In 2015, she earned her alternative certification in 8-12 Journalism and General Technology Education. Martinez teaches graphic design and commercial photography to grades 9-12 at El Dorado High School in El Paso, Texas. She also advises their nationally recognized, award-winning yearbook, The Legend yearbook and their news website Aztec Gold. In 2020, The Legend earned their first NSPA Pacemaker. In 2019, Martinez was awarded the JEA Rising Star. The Legend was also the recipient of two CSPA Silver Crowns for their 2017 and 2018 yearbooks. Martinez coaches the Skills USA photography and design teams, and the District 2-5A UIL Journalism Champions. She's taught at the local Camp Lonestar yearbook camp and the 2019 CSPA Spring Convention at Columbia University in New York City.
Susan Massy is the yearbook adviser at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Shawnee, Kansas, where her Lair yearbook staffs have been demonstrating excellence in writing and design for the past two decades. The Lair recently won its 19th Pacemaker award from the NSPA under Massy’s guidance. In 1999, Massy was chosen the National Yearbook Adviser of the Year by JEA. In 2013, Massy was inducted into the Kansas Scholastic Press Association Hall of Fame.
Susan McNulty, CJE, advises yearbook and newspaper at J.W. Mitchell H.S. in New Port Richey, Florida. A JEA Rising Star in 2017, she serves on the JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee and brought industry certification and honors level classes to her county. Named FSPA and Pasco County Teacher of the Year for 2019, she has presented at NSPA and FSPA conferences and her students have been recognized by FSPA, JEA, NSPA and CSPA with All-Florida, All-American, Silver Crowns and Pacemaker awards.
Sheila Moore advises newspaper, broadcast, and yearbook at a small school in central Illinois, situated in the middle of cornfields. Moore has taken a program that included a small yearbook and developed a competitive publications team that does exceedingly well in state competitions (student enrollment of 270). Her staff firmly believes while they may be small, they have big ideas and goals. Her yearbook program, Meridian Moments, was one of the first to win the national Level Up competition. Moore serves on the Illinois High School Association Journalism Advisory Committee and has worked with several All-State Journalists. She has a Master's in Educational Leadership from the University of Illinois--Springfield and is finishing a Master's in Journalism Mass Communication at Kent State University. She will celebrate 24 years of marriage this summer and is the proud mom of three children (ages 23, 19, and 7).
Mark Murray retired in 2019 from the Arlington Independent School District in Arlington, Texas after 35 years as a classroom teacher and district technology director. For the past 33 years, Murray has served as the President and now Executive Director for the Association of Texas Photography Instructors. The organization of high school photography teachers from Texas and across North America annually sponsors photography and video contests for students and teachers. Murray is a Joseph M. Murphy and Gold Key recipient from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, a Pioneer Award winner from the National Scholastic Press Association, has been awarded the Carl Towley Award and Medal of Merit by the national Journalism Education Association, has been named a Trailblazer by the Texas Association of Journalism Educators, the Interscholastic League Press Conference in Texas has named him one of 75 Texas Legends of Scholastic Journalism, and ATPI has presented him with their highest honor, the Star of Texas award.
Christina Porcelli advises the Panther yearbook, Pep O' Plant newspaper, PHSNews.com and Paw Print literary magazine at H.B. Plant High School in Tampa, Florida.
The Panther yearbook has earned multiple CSPA Crowns, an NSPA Pacemaker and was a Design of the Year Finalist under Porcelli's guidance.
Linda A. Runatz, has a professional teaching career that spans over 23 years and across secondary, middle and elementary levels. She holds a certification in Business, Computers, and Information Technology and currently teaches at New Brighton Area High School. Linda received her BS in Business Education from Grove City College, an MS in Business Education from Robert Morris University, and her Principal Certification from Point Park University. She has been a yearbook adviser for five years as well as sponsoring many extra-curricular activities throughout her career. Linda resides in Mars, Pennsylvania, and enjoys playing the piano, exercising and spending time with her three children.
Sabrina Schmitz, CJE, is a Walsworth Yearbooks sales representative in Florida. With a degree in magazine journalism, she taught graphic design and journalism in addition to advising The Stampede yearbook staff and The Hoofbeat newspaper staff at J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Fla. In her six years of advising, The Stampede yearbook was awarded two CSPA Silver Crowns, a Gold Crown, a NSPA Pacemaker Award, and was an NSPA Design of the Year finalist in 2012. She was recognized as Teacher of the Year in 2013 as well as a District Teacher of the Year Finalist and has taught at workshops and conventions around the country.
Becky Tate, CJE, is the newspaper and yearbook adviser at Shawnee Mission North High School in Overland Park, Kansas, where her staffs have consistently earned All-American and Medalist ratings along with CSPA Crown and NSPA Pacemaker awards. Tate received a CSPA Gold Key in 2010, the JEA Medal of Merit in 2008 and the Jackie Engel Award for the Outstanding Kansas Journalism Teacher of the Year in 2001 from the Kansas Associated Collegiate Press. She was named a newspaper Special Recognition Adviser by the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund in 1997 and a JEA Special Recognition Adviser in yearbook in 1999.
Dow Tate advises the yearbook, newspaper and news website at Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas. He is co-author of Scholastic Journalism, 12th edition and his students’ publications are consistent winners of the NSPA Pacemaker and the CSPA Gold Crown. Dow is in the Scholastic Journalism Hall of Fame at the University of Oklahoma and has been named a Texas Legend, as one of the most influential people in the state’s scholastic journalism history. Tate was the 1997 Dow Jones News Fund Journalism Teacher of the Year and was chosen for a JEA Distinguished Adviser in 2007.
Brit Taylor, CJE, is a yearbook, newspaper and website adviser at Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Florida. He has advised yearbook for 27 years and newspaper for 23, and he has stuck with it for so long because he is drawn to the real-world application of high school journalism. Taylor appreciates the many lessons that publications teach. He is the president of the Florida Scholastic Press Association, and as a member of FSPA, JEA, NSPA and CSPA, Taylor has presented and critiqued for publications nationwide. His publications have won Pacemakers and Crowns, and if quarantine ever ends, his yearbook will be inducted into the NSPA Hall of Fame for 10 straight years of All-American ratings, a sign of both consistency and, unfortunately, approaching old age. When not yearbooking, Brit likes to hike in national parks with his wife, Maureen, and their three kids.
Mike Taylor, CJE, is a Key Accounts Manager with Walsworth Yearbooks. He taught yearbook, newspaper and television production at Lecanto High School, Lecanto, Florida, for 13 years, where his publications staffs won numerous awards. Taylor has been awarded the JEA Medal of Merit, CSPA Gold Key and Florida Scholastic Press Association Gold Medallion. As a well-known instructor at workshops and conventions across the country, he has consulted with countless yearbook staffs to help them realize their potential in creating journalistic yearbooks.
Dr. Tod Traughber, CJE, has worked in the publications industry in Central Arkansas for the past 15 years. Currently serving as the adviser to The Wildcat yearbook and the Director of the Harding Academy Photography Staff, Tod challenges his students to see life differently and capture those visions through a lens. Tod has been married to his college sweetheart for 27 years and has two teenage sons.
Andrew Young, CJE, NBCT, is in his seventh year advising The Round-Up yearbook at Woodland Junior High School in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He has been named a 2017 Rising Star by JEA, 2018 Arkansas Adviser of the Year, 2018 Fayetteville Public Schools Teacher of the Year and 2020 Outstanding Young Alumni from the University of Arkansas College of Education and Health Professions. His staffs have been recognized in the JEA MS/JH Media Contest, NSPA Picture/Story/Design of the Year Contests, Arkansas Scholastic Press Association awards and Walsworth Photo Contest. The Round-Up 2019 received a Silver Crown from CSPA and was a NSPA Pacemaker Finalist. He currently serves as the President-Elect of the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association and has a passion for seeing junior high and middle school journalism programs take it to the next level.
Jessica Young, MJE, advises The Torch yearbook and The Musket newspaper at Orange Glen H.S. in Escondido, California. She teaches a college-credit journalism class, yearbook, photography and graphic design. She has been teaching and advising for 12 years but started her career in scholastic journalism on her middle school yearbook staff. She studied journalism at San Diego State University and received her Masters in Education from UC San Diego. She spends her time away from school running, playing volleyball, baking and teaching at high school workshops around the country. Check out her antics on Instagram, @RacingCupcakes.