Harker journalism advisor and administrator win national awards in Indianapolis


Keller and Austin stand with their award plaques. They received awards for their roles in high school Journalism at the NSPA/JEA High School Convention in Indianapolis on Nov. 12.

by Michael Sikand, Social Media Editor

Butch Keller and Ellen Austin accepted awards for their roles as journalism educators and administrators at the NSPA/JEA High School Convention in Indianapolis on Saturday.

Austin won the National Scholastic Press Association’s Pioneer Award, an award which represents a high honor for scholastic journalism educators across the nation who have been cited for their outstanding efforts as advisers to high school programs.

Keller received the Journalism Education Association’s Adviser of the Year award, which is awarded to one journalism administrator each year who has showed enthusiasm and support for his or her school’s program.

Austin accepted her award plaque in front of a crowd of 250 high school journalism administrators and educators, being praised by the awards host for her accomplishments in her field. Keller later delivered a speech while accepting his award towards the end of the ceremony.

In his speech, Keller not only expressed his support of the Harker Journalism program, but communicated his beliefs of a society built on trust, honesty and mutual respect community, prompting a standing ovation at the end of his remarks.

“I believe that if we live in a community with kindness, respect, accountability and integrity, then trusting is something that should be expected, trust is something that if once given is a gift, trust is liberating if used conscientiously,” he said. “Ellen has created a program that fosters trust and commitment to excellence and security. A reporter asked me once why I let students speak out and investigate difficult and controversial issues, my question back to her was why wouldn’t I, we are educators and education is all about experiences and teachable moments.”

Linda Putney, executive director of the Journalism Education Association (JEA), explained the importance of supportive administrators in scholastic journalism programs and responded to Keller’s speech.

“Administrators should be our best friends and not our enemies, and we wanted to showcase those administrators who support freedom of expression for students and who support journalism programs,” she said. “Mr. Keller’s speech was awesome, and his speech was not just only about journalism, but it was also about life. His thing about trust was especially strong because administrators have to hire somebody that they trust and turn that responsibility of running a student publication program over to them.”

Harker Journalism will head to their next JEA/NSPA conference in spring in Seattle, where the program will compete for more scholastic journalism awards.