by Julie Dodd
JEA Mentoring Committee co-chair

Recruiting is an important component for a successful high school media program. Unlike most curriculum areas — English, history, math and science — media is not a required subject. So those teaching media classes have to recruit students. Here is the exchange of ideas about recruiting from the JEA mentoring listserv.

Carmen Wendt (AZ mentor) wrote:
I’m helping my mentees with recruiting students for next year. Signup starts soon. Does anyone have any good ideas or resources? Thanks for you help.

Ellen Kersey (OR mentor) wrote:
Here’s what I’ve done in the past. Nothing spectacular, but it helped. Do get recommendations from English teachers. Send letters to each student recommended. THEN…send letters to their parents, telling them their children’s English teaches recommended them for the journalism class. You can also point out the benefits of your journalism program. Hope that helps.

Rick Brown (CA mentor):
Sophomore English teachers provide excellent recommendations.  A letter from next year’s editors to prospective staff members is also powerful.  One can cull names from the “high proficient” group of last year’s frosh from the standardized test results.  I would not rely on counselors (personal prejudice on my part.)

Katy Gray (CO mentor) wrote:
We create a brief form letter that explains what we do, what we need 
in students, how the class can develop their talents.  Then newspaper 
students add a personal note saying specifically what we have heard 
about him or her that would make them an asset to the paper.

Georgia and Wayne Dunn (OH mentors) wrote:
Our mentees would love to have a copy of an application for a first-year class as well as the application and process for a production class.

Peggy Gregory (Mentor Committee) wrote:
An application and other recruiting materials are on the CD under Staff Management. [Editor’s note: The Mentoring Committee compiled the materials on the CD that is given to each mentor as part of the mentor training program.]

Dianne Gum (CO mentor) wrote:
First: I assign seniors to be the recruiters. They know the publication staff needs and strengths and weaknesses of the returning staff members. I encourage them to think of recruiting as their legacy to the publication so that it can continue after they graduate. Second: I challenge teachers to look at the school’s coaches. Who are the best recruiters?  How do they get athletes to participate in their programs? Then copy their techniques.

I wrote:
Send members of the staff to the feeder middle schools when they are beginning scheduling of students who will be moving to the high school the next year. Have them take copies of the newspaper or have the yearbook with them. My experience was that the staff members did a great job of recruiting.

Another strategy but this is really planning ahead… Have members of your staff work with the students in elementary feeder schools when they publish the elementary school newspaper, which usually is only once a year during the newspaper unit. I found that I usually had one editor every year who had decided back in fifth or sixth grade to be on the high school publication staff because of working with the high school students.

What suggestions do you have for recruiting students for a high school media class?