Amy DeVault from Wichita State University has been named the first winner of the Friend of KSPA Award, which was established this year as a way to honor professionals and others who have contributed so much to the organization.
DeVault, an assistant professor in the Elliott School of Communication at WSU, has coordinated the KSPA regional contest at WSU since she came to the school from the Wichita Eagle in 2007. DeVault grew up in Bazine, Kan., earned a master’s degree at Kansas State University, and taught high school journalism at El Dorado High from 1997-2000. Her students won the KSPA Class 4A sweepstakes in her final year at El Dorado.
Three KSPA members — Board member Sharon Martin of Wichita East, Kristin Baker of Andover and President Linda Drake from Chase County — surprised DeVault during an Elliott School faculty meeting Wednesday. The three advisers presented DeVault with a bouquet of flowers and announced that she had won the first Friend of KSPA Award.
Martin then spoke:
“Over the 10-plus years that I have worked with her, I have watched with admiration her personal growth and development from a journalism adviser, to a professional in the journalism field, to a Wichita State University instructor pursuing her Doctoral degree, all the while continuing her involvement with both high school students and advisers.
“Ms. DeVault devotes countless hours of her personal time to managing the annual Wichita area regional journalism contest for the Kansas Scholastic Press Association. This event is very important to teachers and students and Ms. DeVault handles each situation and problem with calmness and grace. Even though contest rules and regulations are specific, issues arise and teachers contact Ms. DeVault for assistance and interpretation. Rather than merely disqualifying students, she is generous in her interpretations and searches for ways to help students.
“Ms. DeVault has provided instruction and emotional support to advisers throughout her professional career. When she was teaching, she was a colleague who searched out the most innovative technology and teaching techniques. When she was an employee of the Wichita Eagle, she was a generous guest speaker both locally and nationally. Now working at WSU, she offers a summer workshop, The Flint Hills Symphony Media Project, for teachers to work together, to practice reporting, and to learn about digital technology.
“As she began her career teaching high school journalism, Ms. DeVault has a clear understanding of and has championed students’ freedom of expression for years. She advances students’ knowledge of the law, writing, and digital communications at summer camps and national workshops. She encourages students to push beyond the surface and to investigate whatever is of interest to them and report in a fair and balanced manner.
Ms. DeVault’s “can do” attitude plus her genuine interest in assisting both students and teachers are what makes her a true Friend of Kansas Scholastic Press Association.”
Former KSPA President Jill Chittum also submitted a letter of nomination for DeVault.
DeVault will accept the formal award at the State Contest, set for Saturday, May 4, in Lawrence. She will deliver the keynote address at the annual Fall Conference at Fort Hays State University in Hays on Sept. 23, 2013.