Sharing the Wealth
Written by Idea File Staff
Special Recognition Adviser Sandy Jacoby Passes Passion to Students and Family
Sandy Jacoby not only found her passion in yearbooks, her commitment and exuberance has helped countless students uncover the same passion and realize their potential as leaders and communicators.
A recent recipient of the JEA Special Recognition Award, Jacoby knew she wanted to teach English when she began her career, and was willing to take on the ambiguous role of yearbook adviser if that was what it took to get a teaching job.
“To get an English teaching position in Ohio 30 years ago, I swore I could stand on my head, and could certainly advise a yearbook,” said Jacoby, teacher and yearbook adviser at G. N. Tremper High School in Kenosha, Wis.
‘After advising yearbooks, I decided yearbooks were tremendous motivators for sharpening writing and visual skills.”
Jacoby honed her own skills by taking journalism institute adviser classes at Syracuse University, Ball State University and the University of Minnesota. She has continuously taught at regional and national workshops and conventions.
“I’m a life-long contributor and learner,” she said.
The birth of her first child was the first event in Jacoby’s life that caused her to give pause in her yearbook advising efforts.
“I had to re-think the time required for advising, but once again, in Wisconsin, job requirements hand-cuffed me to yearbook, only for me to realize I had found a career-long love affair with the urge to release the creative potential within teens,” Jacoby said.
Her passion flourished at home as well. Her three children all chose to take leadership roles on their high school yearbook staffs. Her oldest son took the skills he learned while on the yearbook staff and has become an award-winning interactive designer for one of Wisconsin’s largest marketing and communication firms.
Her daughter has gone on to major in marketing and has tapped into her yearbook skills to earn national marketing association awards. Jacoby’s youngest son, currently editor-in-chief of his high school yearbook, has twice placed Superior in JEA Write-Offs in the computer design and logo category.
Over the years, Jacoby has taken the yearbook staff at Tremper from one dozen students to a 50-member staff that fills two 90-minute class periods.
Her staffs have earned recognition over the years for their outstanding contributions to yearbook, including televised recognition by the KUSD Board (recognizing students individually and as a staff yearly); consistent placement in JEA Write-Off competitions; NSPA All-American and Pacemaker Finalist recognition; and national and sweepstakes recognition for individual students from Quill and Scroll.
“My students and my children reflect our love for the visual and verbal, vividly committed to service and excellence,” Jacoby said. “I promote the philosophy that if we operate as quality journalists and publish a yearbook that our students treasure, then awards are the whipped cream, a bonus that reinforces that we have done our jobs well.”
Bringing out the best in her young apprentices is Jacoby’s only desire.
“My goal isn’t to produce journalists, or even English teachers, but simply outstanding leaders and excellent communicators. Over and over in these 30 years, grown young people and their parents have returned to say that yearbook and what it taught them about tenacity and triumph made a difference in their college successes and career paths,” she said.
“What more could a teacher ask for? Journalism advisers, I’ve learned, touch teens’ lives in ways unparalleled in any other high school experience.”