by Julie Dodd
JEA Mentoring Committee co-chair

May 2-6 is Teacher Appreciation Week. Those of us who are involved in the JEA Mentoring Program are letting the new journalism teachers involved in our national initiative know that we appreciate them year-round.

Here are four reasons that journalism/media teachers deserve special appreciation.

1. Journalism/media teachers are preparing students with 21st century skills.
Every teacher is helping prepare students for the next level of coursework, state-mandated testing and/or for job performance. But few programs help students develop so many 21st century skills. Journalism/media teachers teach communication skills — interviewing, writing, use of email to collect information. They teach collaboration and critical thinking.¬†They help students learn to use computer applications, from design to Photoshop to managing databases to using the Web for fact checking. They teach business fundamentals.

2. Journalism/media teachers help students learn both about the First Amendment and about media responsibility.
As we celebrate countries in the Middle East striving to create democracies, we also must help our citizenship understand and embrace the rights and responsibilities provided by the Constitution to the media and to individuals. Media advisers are teaching those concepts.

3. Journalism/media teachers are evaluated by their students’ performance beyond standardized tests.
Publishing a newspaper or yearbook, creating an online news site, or creating a broadcast are all very public exhibits of student work. Just as the marching band, the drama production and the football team are demonstrating their proficiency, media staffs are demonstrating their competencies in a public way — beyond what most classroom teachers do.

4. Journalism teachers often have to raise funds to support their media programs.
Some yearbook, newspaper and broadcast programs are funded by the school district. But most aren’t. Some media advisers and staffs are responsible for raising the money needed not only to pay for the printing of yearbooks and newspapers but to purchase cameras and software and pay for students to attend trips to journalism conventions. Teachers of band or drama programs also may be fundraising for their programs, but most teachers in the school do not have the requirement of raising funds to keep their classrooms going.

Thanks to all the journalism teachers in the JEA Mentoring Program for their efforts and thanks to the JEA mentors for their work to support new journalism teachers.