Tech instructors ready to help advisers prepare for new year at Academy

Written by Evan Blackwell, CJE

In preparation for the Adviser Academy this year, the Yearbooks Blog will be previewing the annual summer workshop with Inside Look at the Academy – a series of Q&As with the instructors.

Katie Straka, the yearbook adviser at Blue Springs High School in Blue Springs, Missouri, just outside of Kansas City, will be one of the Online Design instructors at Adviser Academy.

How long have you been a yearbook adviser? How long have you been teaching in general?

I have been advising yearbook for five years and teaching for 19.

How did you become involved in scholastic journalism?

After teaching English for 12 or 13 years, I needed a change. It was either get out of education altogether or change what I was doing within the school. Our newspaper and yearbook job happened to open up at the same time, so I decided to take a shot at it.

Is this year your first involvement with Walsworth’s Adviser Academy?


What will you be teaching?

Online Design for new advisers

What are the most important things for yearbook teachers to focus on during the summer?

Planning – both deadline and lesson planning. Team building with staff. And knowing your own skill set – what to delegate to staff and what to take care of yourself.

How valuable do you think summer training is for yearbook advisers and staffs?

It’s very valuable, especially for new advisers. Having kids do summer stuff is important, but being prepared as an instructor is the most important.

What lessons or pieces of advice are you hoping advisers will leave Adviser Academy with?

I’m hoping that advisers will become comfortable performing and teaching basic Online Design skills.


This year’s Adviser Academy Photoshop class will be taught by two of Walsworth’s own Photoshop pros, Sarah Roberts and Zach Field. Roberts recently took a few minutes to introduce herself to us.

What is your title and how long have you been with Walsworth?

I’m a graphic designer for Walsworth’s Marketing Department, and I’ve been with the company for four years. Zach is also a designer for our Marketing Department. He’s been with Walsworth for three and a half years – one year here in Kansas City (Marketing) and two and a half years working for Walsworth’s Creative Services in Brookfield.

Is this year your first involvement with Adviser Academy?

No, Zach and I taught Photoshop last year. I also assisted Karen Johnson with Beginning InDesign for the past two years.

What will you be teaching in this Photoshop class?

We’ll begin by teaching the basics of resizing images, cropping and color correcting photos. Depending on the skill level of the advisers, we will move into more specific applications/tutorials like overlaying patterns on photos or creating specialty brushes. However, we try to have an open dialogue to teach what the class wants to learn.

What points or lessons do you hope advisers will be able to take home from your class?

Photoshop isn’t the type of program that you can learn in one four-hour class. I hope that the advisers feel like they have the basic skills to start experimenting and build a more solid understanding of the program on their own time.


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Evan Blackwell, CJE

Evan Blackwell, CJE, is the Marketing Automation Supervisor for Walsworth. He's been a writer, editor and web content specialist for Walsworth for the past 15+ years, and is the author of the Yearbook Suite's "The Art of the Interview" unit. Prior to joining Walsworth, Blackwell spent five years as an award-winning newspaper and magazine journalist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.