Monday, May 7, 2012

Washington High School journalism teacher wins 2012 Sunflower Award

Kansas City Washington adviser Brandi Stout has been named the winner of the 2012 Sunflower Award, given annually by KSPA to a relatively new adviser (first four years) who has already made a significant contribution to scholastic journalism in Kansas.

Stout, who will be honored at the annual KSPA State Contest brunch on May 5, will receive up to $500 to cover tuition for continuing journalism education, a plaque and a free 2012-2013 KSPA membership. Stout was nominated by her high school adviser, Jill Holder from Bonner Springs.

Here’s what one judge wrote about Stout: “In her three years as an adviser, Brandi has done a great job to revitalize the yearbook and to train her  students to the point that they are competitive and confident. The editor’s comment about Brandi speaks volumes: ‘The main thing Mrs. Stout teaches is that she has faith in her students even when they don’t have faith in themselves.’”

Another judge noted that Stout “works at a low-income school (and) has re-energized the journalism program. Recent research shows that journalism programs are least likely to exist in schools that have large proportions of disadvantaged students, which is measured by how many students in a school qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. This relates to the type of funding for curricular and extra-curricular programs, like journalism, that a school has at its disposal. In Brandi’s school, 78 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.”

All judges had praise for all three nominees: Stout, Todd Vogts of Western Plains High School and BriAnne Chayer of Paola High School.

“In two years in a school with a total enrollment of 48, Todd has created an entire program and his students placed first in KSPA state contest. Quite an achievement in a short time. In addition he teaches his students about their First Amendment rights and empowers them to practice those rights.”

“Most impressive in BriAnne’s recommendation packet were the endorsements she received from her superintendent as well as a former fellow reporter. While both letters presented detailed, appropriate information, it was the student letter that (was most impressive.) The student credited BriAnne with the change in the journalism program and continued ‘she offers a safe haven for students to learn and grow as students, leaders, and journalists.’”

“Looking over all these nominations, I came to believe that student journalism in Kansas is in good hands of excellent advisers,” one judge wrote.

Michelle Wilmes of Ottawa won the inaugural Sunflower Award in 2011.