July 23, 2009 / Noteworthy / Staff Management

Remember when…

Written by Idea File Staff

Think back to your first year as an adviser. What memories do you still have from that first year, and what’s the most important piece of advice you would give to a new adviser now?

Give us your comments below!

16 Responses to “Remember when…”

August 07, 2009 at 8:28 am, Anne Whitt said:

My biggest problem when I started was knowing how to make each book unique. I soon saw that buildings, books, faculty, curriculum and events stayed the same. Students knew that changing the theme, color scheme and font was superficial for the content of the book was basically the same play with different actors.
Finally, I realized that in spite of the constants, no two school years are ever the same for one reason: the students change. So the secret of unique books no one can resist buying is to write, not about teams or classes or events, but about the individual students who people the school this year. Fill a book with these stories written in light of the news values and you will make a unique and interesting book.

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August 10, 2009 at 8:55 pm, Stephanie Emerson, MJE said:

Advisers and staffs need a disciplined approach to funding their yearbook program with ad and book sales.

It is true – the best way to fund the yearbook is to sell ads and yearbooks. However, organizing such sales is time-consuming, and usually they find themselves competing with other groups in their school, and sometimes other schools, for those dollars. If their yearbook program is self-sustaining like mine is – the district gives us no money – the task of funding a great yearbook every year seems daunting.

The sales plan I devised and have used for years is successful for many reasons. It works on a timetable to avoid competition as much as possible – I believe timing is everything. We have record-keeping methods that simplify the billing, payment, ad design and yearbook distribution functions.

Another important element is that I have a student business manager on staff. This person oversees our sales, is trustworthy and can handle large amounts of money. Our business would crash without this person at the helm – with my oversight, of course.

Our ad and book sales are a year-long process, but we do not spend a year on them. Specific tasks are done at specific times of the year. The business manager executes the plan, although we could not reach our sales goals without everyone on staff pulling their weight. We sell business ads in the summer, senior ads are due by the end of September, and the yearbook sale is ONLY the first week of November. With this plan in place, we know exactly how much money can be spent on the yearbook before our second deadline for our spring delivery book.

Stephanie Emerson, MJE
Wynne High School
Wynne, Arkansas

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August 26, 2009 at 9:51 pm, Crystal Kazmierski said:

Best thing I ever did was to send our books in to CSPA and NSPA for critiques. “Next time you might want to include copy,” a reviewer said. (“That’s funny,” I thought. I was pretty sure I did send in a copy…)

That was the beginning of learning what a real yearbook was supposed to be. From there I attended workshops and JEA/NSPA and CSPA conventions and found that there were plenty of other weirdos like me who were hooked on kids and publications.

Go to conventions and summer workshops and watch your kids grow!!

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September 10, 2009 at 1:00 pm, Robert Haar said:

I set out on this adventure 15 years ago. When I look back at my first year the thing that comes to mind is the willingness to put trust in my students. At that time, I had been “given” the class with no journalism background or experience. The majority of the staff knew more, way more, than I did about putting a book together.

But while I was the rookie teacher and a complete novice to yearbook, the foundation of my relationship with my students was built on giving them the opportunity to have the say in theme, design, story ideas, etc. While I might not have known much about yearbook, they knew I would work hard to: support their ideas and see them come to fruition, listen to their needs, and learn as much as I could about yearbook production so I could be an asset and not a hinderance.

Over the years my knowledge and understanding of journalism and yearbooks have grown tremendously. But even as my experience and comfort level increased, I still remain true to putting trust in my kids. After all, it is THEIR book! There is a great deal of empowerment that comes with putting so much trust in them. And through both their successes and failures they gain valuable lessons in their ability to lead, to handle stress, to make the tough decisions, to meet deadlines and how to communicate/work with others. In the end, it is more than just about putting together a yearbook, but about establishing lifelong skills that will carry them through many more challenges to come in their adult lives.

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April 09, 2010 at 12:42 pm, Jaime Gilligan said:

I’m just wrapping up my 3rd year as adviser. I have to echo Jeff Gabbard’s advice. The biggest realization I’ve come to thus far (and believe me I’ve got a long ways to go) is that this is a STUDENT publication. My editors run the show. The past 2 years I acted as the unofficial editor-in-chief. This year my staff was finally ready to take over for me. It’s made all the difference in the world.

Jaime Gilligan, Ursuline Academy

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Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.