Yearbook Advisers of Note: Meet Sandy Routh
Written by Jim Jordan
Tucked away in Trinity, North Carolina, is a powerhouse of a yearbook adviser named Sandy Routh. Even though she is primarily a social studies teacher, she has done two stints as an adviser – one during the first six years of her career and then, after a 15-year break, she returned to advising for her final eight years of teaching. Next year may be her last, and she is already on the lookout for someone who will love advising a yearbook as much as she does to take over.
Her Walsworth Yearbooks representative, Carolyn Henderson, said this about her: “Sandy’s greatest skill is organization. She understands the value of planning ahead and developing her theme, style book and templates, beginning in the spring. She is a great supporter of attending all available workshops and yearbook camps so that she can expose her staffs to the latest trends and provide them with the best education possible. She is meticulous and detailed with editing and teaching her students to edit.”
Trinity High School
Number of Students in Your School: 720
Size of Your Book: 8.5 X 11
Number of Pages in Your Book in 2017: 184
Number Sold in 2017: 325
College Attended: BS – Appalachian State University, MS – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
High School Attended: Eastern Randolph High School, Ramseur, North Carolina
Did you do journalism in high school?
Unfortunately, no. I would have really enjoyed the challenge.
Other classes you teach?
Unlike most yearbook teachers, I am not an English teacher. I teach social studies, specifically World History, Civics and Economics.
Total number of years you have advised?
Fourteen. I advised the first six years of my career and later returned to advise for eight years. I will retire next year and I am making plans to train someone who will hopefully love it as much as I do.
How did you become a yearbook adviser?
The social studies teacher, whom I was hired to replace, was the yearbook adviser. I was told, “Don’t worry, we are getting someone with experience to take yearbook.” Two days before school started, I was informed that I would have to do it. Having no prior experience, I was slightly panicked, but the adviser I replaced became my Walsworth representative and was a tremendous help (shoutout to Blaze Hayes).
What have you enjoyed most about advising a yearbook?
What I have enjoyed the most is building relationships with the staff. I often get to teach the same students for 6-8 semesters out of their high school careers. I am proud to say that I have former staff members who have gone on to use their skills from yearbook in their careers.
I also enjoy the using current trends to create designs. For example, finding an element in a magazine and incorporating it into a page.
What has been the most difficult part of advising for you?
Paperwork has been the most difficult part of advising. Making sure each student has permission to be in the yearbook, financials are correct, ad sales are tabulated and, of course, grades are entered are also part of the responsibility.
As a perfectionist, editing for submission is nerve-wracking. I want everything just right, so I go over a page multiple times and get a little nervous when I finally hit the submit button.
What advice would you give to a first-year adviser?
Work to organize your staff and yourself. Give responsibility to students and monitor progress on a regular basis.
What made you want to come back for year two?
The satisfaction of working hard to meet deadlines and having a finished product to show for the sweat and tears.
What keeps you coming back each year?
Yearbook is a creative outlet that gives me energy for the rest of my day. I enjoy the interaction with students and staff.
What goals have you set?
To improve at least one aspect of the book each year. For example, last year, we emphasized including a greater variety of students in the yearbook.
Tell a story that is indicative of your life as an adviser.
A few weeks ago, we were starting a layout and the students were not very excited about the assignment: travel. They stated that very few students from THS had traveled outside of the US. After distributing the surveys, these students discovered that numerous members of the student body had traveled all over the world. They were able to meet and interview students with whom they would not normally interact. As time went by, the students became more excited and produced a really creative layout.
Tell a story about a moment in your career as adviser that you will never forget.
The first time the books came in as a new adviser was unforgettable. At that point, I fell in love with the smell of printer’s ink. As I look back, I cringe at the mistakes that I made as a newbie. However, it was so satisfying to hold the product of long hours and countless late nights.