Monday, May 31, 2010

It's getting warmer!

I’m thrilled to have you all come to the amazing city I call “home.” Though I am not a native, I have lived in Phoenix for nearly 23 years, and must admit that it has taken time to appreciate the desert. I discourage friends and family from coming to visit between May and September, but nonetheless, there are a few things to enjoy despite the summer heat. I love the SW and the Sonoran Desert, and the hiking right here in the middle of the city is fabulous, though not really in June, unless you finish your hiking by 8 a.m.

I live in the heart of central Phoenix in an historic district about three miles from the downtown ASU campus and absolutely love it! My 80+ year old home keeps me plenty busy. I work in an inner city school on the West side of Phoenix. My colleagues sometimes refer to it as the hoodie hood, but regardless, I truly enjoy my students, most of whom are immigrant children hailing from all parts of the world including the Congo, Nepal, Thailand, the Ivory Coast, Sudan, Vietnam, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, and Iraq. I teach Eng/ESL classes, gifted seminar, and newspaper class, and all of my classes are culturally diverse.

Since many of the students at my large high school have many choices and have either tight academic schedules or prefer “fun” electives such as dance and weight training rather than newspaper, it is a challenge recruiting stellar students to take newspaper class. Many who do enroll enter with limited writing skills and a high percentage of my time is spent working with basic writing skills. We have no journalism “program” so my students do their best to learn everything and produce a publishable school newspaper in this 55 minute a day class. I have been the adviser for the past five years and have to say it has been the most rewarding and challenging experience of my 24-year teaching career.

My learning goals for this experience include the following.

1—To learn how to publish an online school newspaper which is both aesthetically and substantively i interesting for an online audience.
2—To develop team building skills and professional behavior. Working in a culture of maƱana makes meeting deadlines a real challenge.
3—To better understand the use of all the technology used for a school publication.
4—To understand the rights and responsibilities of my students and I in regards to the law and freedom of speech, especially in regards to online publications.

I look forward to meeting everyone.

Jamalee Moret
Alhambra High School
Phoenix, AZ

Hello from Kansas!

Hi everyone! My name is Laura Schwinn and I am from a small city in east-central Kansas called Emporia--home of famous newspaper editor William Allen White. We're located pretty much halfway between Kansas City and Wichita (if any of you know where those are). I teach journalism at the high school I attended and just finished my 8th year of teaching--one year in a rural high school in north central Kansas and the rest at Emporia High School. I currently teach two introduction to journalism classes and advise the yearbook, newspaper and photojournalism staffs. Our newspaper has been printing since 1910 and our yearbook since 1911 (so we will be celebrating our 100th volume of the yearbook this year!)

I'm looking forward to meeting all of you and gaining so much knowledge at this institute that I can bring back to share with my students. Areas I would like to focus some of my efforts include:

1. Grading - I seem to always struggle with this. I'm still in search of a system that works well for me and give students quality feedback which will help them grow as journalists.

2. On-line Publication - We took a small step this year with doing some web content, but I would love to continue to expand this so we can provide our student body with more access to what is going on at EHS.

3. Design - I would like to really spend some time working more with inDesign. I know the basics of the program fairly well, but I would like to see what all is possible and learn how to better instruct my students on the design aspect of journalism.

4. Just more "stuff" - the textbook I currently have for my introduction courses is the journalism book that I used 15 years ago when I was a freshman in high school. I'm looking forward to all of the knowledge, activities, etc., that I will be able to bring back to use with my students.

I can't believe the institute begins in less than 2 weeks. I can't wait to get to Phoenix and meet everyone.

Laura Schwinn
Emporia High School
Emporia, Kan.
Greetings from Northern California.  My name is Brent Manuel, I am a teacher at Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, Calif.  which is about a 100 miles north of Sacramento.  The town although rural boasts a few big items California State University, Chico and Sierra Nevada Brewery.  Yes I know this screams PARTY....

I am relatively new to teaching, just ended my fourth year. I was approached my second year about running the newspaper and was ecstatic. Prior to becoming a teacher I worked in the broadcast and advertising industry.  Being able to bring this experience to the paper has proven extremely helpful. We recently finished our 45th year of publication.  We are the only remaining high school student publication in Chico, the other one closed its doors after 100 years!

What I am hoping most from the institute are the following three items:
  1. Design - At JEA they discussed chunking and would like to find a new creative way to advance our newspaper.  I feel that we have a decent grasp but wonder what I can do to allow the staff to be sucessful and grow.   
  2. Style - There are issues that we deal with in trying to get staff members to understand AP Style and ignore MLA or other rules that apply.  The largest challenge is teaching them how to use the AP Stylebook effectively..
  3. Team Building - This year was tough, I had to let go of an EIC at semester, and needed to manage the fallout from team members that wanted to sabotage the team for the good of their own agenda.
  4. Personal Growth  - I have been told that I am not hard enough on discipline, but feel that ruling with an iron fist will not garner the results that I have so far, although I know that there is a happy medium somewhere.
Well only a few weeks to go, I am really excited especially to meet everyone, especially the folks from Mississippi. I was born in Biloxi and have family in Ocean Springs.  Let the countdown begin!

Brent Manuel
Pleasant Valley High School
Chico, Calif. 

Heat City

Here's an Arizona Republic story noting that Phoenix should have its first 110-plus day of the season next weekend. With that in mind, here's a list of Arizona Heat Jokes from

There isn't much to say about dealing with the heat. Drink lots of water, bring sunscreen, wear light clothing and minimize what you do outside and you'll be fine. The institute's agenda takes care of most of that. Your hotel is a short walk from the school, and it's rare that you'll need to walk more than a couple of blocks outside during the heat of the day.

A couple of other notes:

  • I've been out of town for a week on a family vacation (I put an audio slideshow below in case you'd like to see my take of the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field), so I'll be catching up on e-mails today and tomorrow. Thanks for your story ideas so far.
  • Thanks for the blog posts. These are great. One style note: Please use the sign-off mentioned in the syllabus for both posts and comments. My take is the sign-off from your Google account doesn't contain enough information for visitors to know who is talking.

Steve Elliott
Arizona State University

(Public domain photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Greetings from Bloomsburg

Although I have just finished my 34th year in education, I am truly humbled by the opportunity to be part of this summer’s institute. I am the adviser of our small, rural high school’s newsmagazine, yearbook, art and literary magazine and website while teaching a fairly full load of freshman English. My staffs constantly amaze me with their dedication, creativity and commitment to the 450 students who attend Bloomsburg High School and our town community in northeastern PA.

I am proud of their efforts and how they represent themselves in various state and international programs including My High School Journalism, NewsPageDesigner at, and our own state’s scholastic journalism site at PA School Press Association. This year, our monthly magazine editor, who also serves as our production editor, is surely the best craftsman I have ever worked with, and her unique and original page layouts have proven that design can indeed drive content while improving both readership and how information is presented.

My first year classes begin with the study of ethics, move on to reporting and writing, and then the technologies and skills of photography, InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and web creation, and we repeat this cycle as new experiences challenge my staffs and editors. Each year, my second year students start from scratch so that each edition is unique to their goals and talents, and yes, my gray hair, or what is left of it, is well earned.

Yet, I will be the first one to tell the world that I have so much to learn. I constantly look to develop how we separate and master the responsibilities of teaching journalism and advising scholastic publications, two roles that are sometimes both complementary and contradictory in nature. I think that we will also explore how to expand our publications’ content so that our staffs continue to be relevant in this age of instant communication.

My students demand a lot of themselves, and as their adviser, I can demand nothing less of myself. I am looking forward to a challenging learning experience, to meeting all of you, and to my first visit to Arizona. I expect that we will be quite different on June 25 than we are today.


Sam Bidleman
Bloomsburg High School
Bloomsburg, Pa.

BTW. Married to the best elementary teacher in the world. We work together on the side as portrait photographers and share in a variety of hobbies and habits. She said that she is happy to share me for a few weeks.

BTW2. If you have room in your carry-ons, maybe you all could bring a print edition of your paper/magazine to share OR we could exchange addresses and exchange publications that way. All good.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Hi everyone! My name is Alyssa Carnley and I teach at a public school just north of Atlanta, in the city of Kennesaw. I just finished my 2nd year teaching English (American Lit to be specific) and I just gained the role of newspaper adviser in the Fall! The students have had another teacher for the past 5 years and I am coming into a program with some much needed change. A bit nervous, but very excited:)

What I would like to take from this experience:

-Grading; we are a standards based department and since our county has no "standards" for newspaper or journalism, I would like to know how to set up a system where I can align standards with the points. Also, how to grade for ad sales...the previous teacher gave grades based on how many sold, but I feel this is unfair...

-InDesign (and layouts); the graduating seniors took this information with them and this new staff, as well as myself, has little to no knowledge of this program.

-Staff Roles; how to assign editing positions, staff writing positions, etc. based on interest AND skill level.

With that said, I look forward to learning with all of you and from all of you. I feel that, as a fairly new teacher, I am still learning from other educators about everything from grading to classroom management so I cannot wait to collaborate!!

Until then,

Alyssa Carnley

3rd try to get the introduction in

To be upfront, this is a little unnerving. I am accostomed to using the desktop to get my email, resgister the grades and attendance, use Word and search the Net. But here I am, trying to figure out this new laptop, Windows 7, how to function without a mouse, and now to try to blog, as well. This is the third try to get my blog posted into the site. Who knows what I am or am not doing? I may simply have to introduce myself when we all get together.
That said, I am excited to be a part of this institute. I was given the journalism/yearbook class this year after the previous teacher retired. She had control of the situation for about 35 years, and had her traditions. I came in with very little understanding about the game, and had a very negative group who resented my trying to change the traditions. It has been a very interesting and challenging year. It's debatable who is relieved more that the seniors are finished and on their senior trip.
But all that is changing, now, as I will have a new group who have not worked under the old system. We will be creating our own traditions, such as investigative reporting, interviewing and including the 75% of our student population (the Hispanic students), who have largely been ignored in the past.I am looking forward to learning the proper ways of putting together a paper, and especially putting a paper on-line, something I know nothing about. I only hope I don't hold my work group back from lack of experience (especially with anything having to do with electronics).
As for the rest of the introduction, I primarily teach art and some digital photography. I came to teaching rather late, in my 40s. In the last 15 years, I spent 10 subbing, and have taught some English and ESL, as well as art. I have one son (Brent, 26) and am married to Allen (38 years and counting). While I work in Warden, 40 miles away, we live outside of Marlin, WA (pop. usually around 50) in a 115 year old house surrounded by trees (in a desert). 7 cats round out the household, and the outside "pets" include some mule deer, turkeys, a bobcat, Canada geese, and whatever else wanders through. I call these my pets as they have accepted us as relatively non-threatening, and will allow us to see them in the yard and even stand there while we talk to them. I annually sacrifice most of my strawberries and rose blooms for the privilege.
My personal goals include improving things in general for my students. Many of their parents never got to, let alone graduated from high school. Quite a few think that school is simply where you warehouse yourself until you can escape and get a job, get married, etc. The apathy in the school is apalling. I am hoping to stir things up with the newpaper next year. There was some progress along those lines this year, but it is only the beginning. I am so looking forward to meeting you all and learning from you.

Nunn Winship
Warden High School
Warden, WA

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Introduction to Institute Participants

Greetings to everyone! I am Clarence D. Hooker from central Mississippi. I teach at a rural high school in Utica. My newspaper student staff finished the school year in a thrilling fashion by completing a tri-profile story as their final exam. When I told them the final exam would be a week long event they panicked until they found out the details. I gave them a modified version of a lesson plan suggested through the ASNE website. The stories compared and contrasted three different people at the school (faculty, graduating senior, and underclassman) to connect them. It was very successful. You may check out these stories and more, if you wish, at I am very excited about being part of the institute. Even though I have been an advisor for several years in middle/high schools, this is only my second year at my present school. Thanks to ASNE, we were able to start an online version of our printed newsletter, which was in danger of being discontinued. Now, there is renewed interest for next school year. I hope to gain from the institute more knowledge of newspaper setup (print and online), journalistic skills to pass along to my students, better techniques to get the word out about our newspaper, social networking, and utilization of technology.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Introduction Blog

Hello Everyone! I am Leona O'Neal from South Mississippi. I teach at a rural high school in Lucedale, Mississippi. I finished up the school year yesterday, and now I have time to plan for Arizona. I have been a yearbook adviser for 13 years and newspaper adviser for 6. I am very excited about the institute. What I hope to gain from the institute is organization of staff, grading, and improvement of my own journalistic writing skills. I can't wait to meet everyone.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Headlines, Headaches, and Heading South

Hello everyone, I am currently in the throes of administering final exams to 135 high school students who would rather be outside in the sunshine. My newspaper staff has dotted its last i and crossed the last t in the final (30th) issue of this year's school paper. (Listen for a huge sigh of relief from all of us). The last 15 pages of the yearbook should (and that that's a huge should) be finished by this Friday, May 28th. On Thursday, June 10th I will take my final final exam for my masters degree and on Sunday will head down Arizona way to re-energize my brain, all in grateful thanks to the Reynolds Institute. I hope to get the student paper on-line next year, so I was excited to hear about all the varied projects we get to do. I am especially looking forward to talking with everyone about meeting deadlines, as my newspaper and yearbook are not a class so there is no grade involved. Any ideas out there???

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Introduction Blog: Hello to All!

Okay, I've been reading the syllabus in bits and pieces, and note that Assignment #2 asks for contributions to the Institute blog. An optional requirement recommendation is "to begin the exchange of creating a brief post introducing yourself and saying what you hope to take from the institute." I like options and fulfilling requirements so (deep breath) here goes. And I hope I'm doing this in the correct place!

My name is Nicki Yokota and I will be traveling from Southern California to attend this institute. I am really looking forward to meeting all of you! My education and training have primarily been in the areas of psychology and Marriage & Family Counseling, and I've come to teaching and Newspaper advising most unexpectedly over the past few years through a series of being in the right place at the right time. I have been the newspaper advisor for 2 years now and you can view it, the SMES exPRESS at

Here are the things I most want to take from this unique training opportunity at ASU:
  1. Responsibility: As an advisor with a publication by students for students, what are realistic responsibilties of my editors, the writers and the advisor? What can I do to prevent ending up doing a lot of the last minute editing, mangement, etc.?
  2. Organization: I want to learn how to make use of limited time. Newspaper is a one-semester class offered in the Fall and Spring. There is no Journalism program at our school. We meet 4 times a week in 50 min. blocks. It's hard to fit time for teaching, roundtable discussion, research and writing into the allotted time in order to meet our weekly publishing schedule. The students end up writing much of their work during the day or at home, and I end up doing a lot of editing and communication after hours.
  3. Grades: How to fairly assess grades (hard vs. soft pieces, voluntary vs. assigned work) in a class of students grades 9-12 with varying degrees of ability.
Nicki Yokota
St. Margaret's Episcopal School
San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Laptops, labs and cameras

A laptop is helpful at the institute if you wish to work on daily assignments and stories at the hotel, where you'll have free wireless in your rooms. But the Cronkite School's labs are handy to your instruction and to the hotel, and they're open early, during breaks, until 9 p.m. most days and for limited weekend hours. So list laptops as nice to have but not essential as you plan what to bring.

Most participants have brought point-and-shoot cameras, and those have done nicely. The key is bringing something you're comfortable packing and comfortable using.

Steve Elliott
Arizona State University

Monday, May 17, 2010

Finding your focus

As you look toward offering story ideas for the institute's online publication, keep in mind focus and feasibility.

First, you won't have all that much time to report and illustrate your stories. Second, consider who is most likely to read an online publication put together by participants in the Reynolds Institute.

My suggestion: Both of these considerations can be addressed by concentrating on stories tied to the institute, its surroundings and its participants. Topics related to journalism, high school news organizations and the future of news are feasible because you'll have ready access to sources who can speak to these subjects and a calling card to use with others in the news business. Reading the institute's agenda closely and following links in the syllabus to trade publications should yield focused ideas.

If you want to take on an issue in the community surrounding the Reynolds Institute, think focus. You aren't going to get to the bottom of the immigration issue in your time here, for example, but are there focused ideas within that topic that you can develop? You bet. Do keep in mind that stories get more and more difficult to execute the farther you get from the institute and its immediate surroundings.

Reading bios of your fellow participants can yield ideas as well.

(Public domain graphic courtesy of U.S. Office of Government Ethics)

Steve Elliott
Arizona State University

Saturday, May 15, 2010

ASNE president to address ASU Reynolds Institute

I'm pleased to announce that Milton Coleman, the Washington Post senior editor who recently took over as president of the American Society of News Editors, will kick off the ASNE Reynolds High School Journalism Institute at Arizona State University.

Coleman will welcome participants at the institute's opening reception Sunday, June 13, and on Monday, June 14, will discuss the future of news.

Here is a link to Coleman's acceptance speech at ASNE's national convention last month. And here is a Q&A on diversity between Coleman and The Poynter Institute's Gregory Favre, a former ASNE president who will close out the ASU institute.

Coleman has been with the Post since 1976, starting as a reporter and serving in supervising roles including city editor and deputy managing editor before assuming his current position last year. In addition to his work with ASNE, he is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Multicultural Media Executives.

Steve Elliott
Arizona State University

Friday, May 14, 2010

Casual dress: What that means is up to you

As you plan for your trip to Phoenix, keep in mind that dress for all institute events is casual. What constitutes casual is up to you.

The institute's agenda can be your guide to situations in which you might want to shake up your attire. But it's entirely your call.

That said, do note that air conditioning can leave you a little chilly, especially after being in the kiln-like temperatures outdoors. It might help to bring a light sweater if you get cold easily.

Also, if it does rain here in late June it will do so in buckets and with lots of blowing dust, at least for a few minutes. It doesn't hurt to bring an umbrella, but it's rained maybe once in the three years we've been doing the institute.

Steve Elliott
Arizona State University