Click on the video above to see why Mitch Ziegler is deserving of this recognition.
Here is a story by JEA Awards Chair Erinn Harris that was published on JEA.org in January when the award recipient was announced.
In his 31 years as a yearbook adviser, Ziegler has become a legend in the field. Student press rights advocate, photography guru, local committee chair, writing coach, contest judge: there isn’t one area of yearbook that isn’t in Ziegler’s wheelhouse.
In his own words, “Jeez, I love this.”
Even for those with a deep love of yearbook, COVID-19 presented significant obstacles in production schedules. However, the pandemic was yet another opportunity for yearbook students — and their advisers — to demonstrate the value of yearbook and 21st Century Skills.
“March 16, 2020, was emblematic of the ways journalistic yearbooks epitomize 21st Century Skills for students in college and their careers,” Ziegler said. “That day was the last day my students stepped foot on the Redondo campus for the year, and that day represents how they utilized creativity, critical thinking, flexibility and social skills to complete one of the best yearbooks in Redondo history.”
Creativity, critical thinking, flexibility and social skills are all characteristics typical of Ziegler’s students, before, during and after the pandemic.
“Though the three of us are currently working in vastly different fields,” Ziegler’s 2017 Editors-in-Chief Lauryn Alejo, Alysa Kataoka and Matthew Yonemura said in a recommendation letter, “the lesson and skills Ziegler has imparted upon us have significantly shaped our work ethic and outlook outside of the classroom. Despite the differences in our career goals, the leadership skills that Ziegler taught us have naturally translated to our respective pursuits. Ziegler set up his students for their futures beyond yearbook.”
In order to advise yearbooks that consistently produce at the level of Ziegler’s staffs, one must be a lifelong learner, and Ziegler loves to learn.
“In years teaching workshops to advisers at various locales across the country, I’ve never seen anyone as giddy about learning as Mitch Ziegler,” Bradley Wilson, Ph.D., MJE, said. “He just really enjoys getting out and trying new things, looking at things from a new point of view and having new experiences.”
Anything Ziegler learns, he is ready and willing to share. A frequent presenter, podcast guest and volunteer, he has been a mentor to advisers and students around the country.
“Thankfully, I met Mitch Ziegler during the summer of 2017, and in him, not only did I find an encyclopedia worth of knowledge, experience and wisdom, but my students and I also discovered an educator, guide and willing mentor,” Orange County School of the Arts adviser Courtney Harper said.
Year after year, advisers around the country look at The Pilot yearbook and wonder, “How does he do it?”
Antelope High School adviser Pete LeBlanc, CJE, has the answer: “He is doing everything right. He empowers his students to run their own program, create their own book and execute their own vision. As an adviser, he points and prods in the right direction, giving them the space to take full ownership of their product. The power of the educational experience for Mitch’s students is among the best in the country, just like, and more importantly, than the actual yearbook.”
Ziegler was recognized formally this spring during the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention alongside the following Distinguished and Special Recognition Yearbook Advisers. Here is a video where Mitch delivered a speech. (Forward to 9 minutes into the video to see Mitch and other distinguished yearbook advisers were also recognized at this ceremony.)
Samantha Lasarow, the newspaper and yearbook adviser at El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills, was named a 2019JEA Rising Stars. She was among 12 recipients during the national high school journalism convention in Washington D.C. in November.
According to a Walsworth Yearbooks website, "Walsworth sales rep Michelle DiSimone, CJE, has observed Lasarow infuse her students with courage and confidence as they built up their journalism program.
A commitment not only to scholastic journalism but also the growth of her students as individuals makes Samantha a natural choice for this award,” DiSimone said. “With her background in publications at Stanford University and recent CJE certification, it was clear she was capable and had the knowledge to be successful, but the transformation in their student media seen under her leadership has been truly inspirational and beyond what we could have imagined.'"
At the awards luncheon, Lasarow acknowledged Jo Zimmerman, a retired adviser and former JEA mentor, for guiding her these past few years.
Lasarow is in her fourth year of advising the yearbook Corazon and the newspaper The King's Courier at El Camino Real Charter High School. She is also an SCJEA board member,
Retired journalism adviser and ardent supporter of students' rights to free speech Konnie Krislock will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from JEA in Anaheim at the Spring National High School Journalism Convention. Krislock, along with nine other recipients, will receive her honors at the luncheon to be held on Saturday, April 27.
From JEA's website: Konnie Krislock, Newport Beach, California, has known for years how to get the best out of her students and how to make that possible for new advisers wanting the same thing. As a JEA mentor, Krislock not only provided educational support to her mentees, but also a force to be reckoned with when it came to scholastic press rights. “When school started, Konnie came in to work with my students and we arranged a meeting with my new principal,” nominator Jessica Young, MJE, said. “Not one to mince words, Konnie immediately informed my principal of his role in MY program. I knew I had someone in my corner, ready to answer my questions, support my choices and cheer me on as I faced new challenges.” Krislock has provided that same support system to numerous other teachers, helping them navigate the world of advising through her Newspapers2 Workshop in Southern California and also helping write the California Free Expression Law in 1977.
SCJEA's very own Mitch Ziegler, Redondo Union High School, earned a Medal of Merit through the Journalism Education Association (JEA). Ziegler, along with the six other recipients, will receive this honor at the National High School Journalism Convention in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 18.
From the JEA website: Mitch Ziegler, CJE, may be an expert in all areas of journalism and photojournalism, as nominator Mary Kay Downes, MJE, said, but his contributions extend far beyond his knowledge. As a current member and former president of Southern California JEA, Mitch has helped support journalism in Southern California. As an extension of that group, he chaired the Anaheim JEA/NPSA national convention in 2008, and he helped the local committees for both the 2011 and 2016 conventions. Mitch is a true professional, continually seeking to improve his skills as a teacher and photographer, and an amazing friend and colleague, nominator Brenda Gorsuch, MJE, said.
From all of us at SCJEA, congratulations to Mitch!
Note: Gil Chesterton's passing was reported by his daughter, via Facebook, on May 18, 2017.
Room 253 is not my favorite because it’s my classroom; in fact, it may be one of the worst classrooms on campus. There are no windows. It is beneath the cafeteria, which leads to all types of nauseating smells throughout the year. And, it is tucked into a cubbyhole in a random hallway off the second floor patio; it seems that no one can ever find where we are.
Room 253 is my favorite room because it was where I spent three of my four years at Beverly working on the very same Watchtower yearbook I now advise, under the advisership of a very talented teacher to whom I look up to a great deal: Mr. Chesterton (who we all fondly called Mr. C). For the past 10 years of my educational career, I’ve run each of my publications just as Mr. C had. He created a student-centered classroom where kids were empowered to run their publications in the way that they saw best. He sat quiet, all-knowing in his office where he could keep a watchful eye, making sure we were making ethically and legally sound choices while following the high standards of journalism he had taught us.
It didn’t matter which crowd we ran with when we were in Room 253. It didn’t matter if we were on the newspaper, yearbook or broadcast; Mr. C ensured we were all friends, and we were all accepted as we were when we tucked into those doors.
And for three years, I got to create an amazing yearbook cherished by so many Normans. A legacy that still lives on, 90 years after the original publication. And for three years, I was inspired by a quiet, yet strong and incredibly wise teacher. I modeled my publication management style on his, and within two years of advising the yearbook at South Gate High School, the students went from unknown to award-winning. And now, I get to sit in that very room, every day until we move into “cottages”, knowing that I get to carry on the legacy that was once Mr. C’s. Knowing, hoping, that Room 253 is a safe welcoming place for students who love our school’s publications just as much as I did, as much as I do.
So, today, on yearbook distribution day and the year’s final issue of Highlights, I’d like to say thank you Room 253 and Mr. C, for being my home and my yearbook dad for three years as a Norman student. It brings me great joy to know that you were honored this past year by the Journalism Education Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award—I’m so happy I could do that for you before you left this world. Mr. C, you will be greatly missed. You touched so many lives, students who went on to become journalists or not, but who will remember your legacy all the same.
-Gaby Herbst, CJE
Beverly Hills High School Journalism and English Depts.
The California Journalism and Media Affiliation presented its first-ever Nick Ferentinos Award for Advising Excellence to SCJEA President Lacey Hatfield (Public Service Community High School) on March 12.
While she was working as a new newspaper adviser in South Central, Hatfield worked with Ferentinos at the National High School Journalism Convention in Denver.
"Nick taught me so much that day and got me excited about journalism. He had such a major impact not only on the kids he taught, but on the kids I taught. If it were not for Steve and Nick that day I would never have joined SCJEA let alone be its President," Hatfield said. "I am honored to have won this award because was such an inspiration and I can only aspire to have to the impact he has."
Dow Jones News Fund Journalism Teacher of the Year and Distinguished Advisers were recognized at the National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando, Florida on Nov. 14.
SCJEA member Mitch Ziegler (Redondo Union High School, Redondo Beach) was recognized as a Distinguished Adviser. Ziegler currently advises the High Tide newspaper and the Pilot yearbook, in addition to teaching photography.