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2018 KSPA Annual Award Winners

KSPA proudly recognizes educators and professionals each year who promote excellence in scholastic journalism. Our two winners this year are exceptional: one a dedicated administrator and other an accomplished teacher. Congratulations to our award winners!


The KSPA Administrator of the Year Award recognizes secondary school administrators who have stood up for the First Amendment and his/her students.  The nominee should meet the following five criteria: 1) Supports the Kansas Student Publications Act and the First Amendment; 2) Provides adequate and appropriate financial support for student media; 3) Understands the importance of journalism’s place in a complete secondary school curriculum; 4) Encourages academic and professional growth, both for students and for journalism teachers: 5) Provides personal support and encouragement for students and journalism advisers

The committee would like to note that it had the fortunate problem of having several very strong nominations from which to choose this year. It is heartening to know that many Kansas journalism educators feel supported by their administrators.

Marla Hayden

Career and Technical Education Coordinator, Wichita Public Schools

Words of nomination from Sharon Martin, Wichita East High School journalism teacher, on behalf of Wichita school district journalism teachers:

Although not a journalism educator, Ms. Hayden has taken advantage of state and national conferences (including the fall 2017 25th anniversary of the Publications Act) to increase her knowledge of journalism law and especially the Student Publications Act. Applying her knowledge, she champions the rights of all our high school students, and, in fact, frequently discusses journalism law with her other curricular area: Business.

The area of academic and profession growth is the area that our Wichita teachers have felt the impact of Ms. Hayden most. In the past, we planned our own state and national convention attendance and regional and state contest participation. That planning and execution took hours and hours of time. Now, Ms. Hayden is involved from the very beginning of trip plans, and her experience with other trips for other curricular areas is a benefit to our students as well as all of us.

While the journalism teachers of the Wichita school district are not Ms. Marla Hayden’s only responsibility, she certainly makes us feel as though we are. She has made a significant change in how we operate: more professionally, more financially sound, and more cohesively.

Words from the selection committee:

As CTE coordinator for AV/Communications, Ms. Hayden has been instrumental in ensuring that the district’s resources support the growth of journalism programs in all seven high schools. Ms. Hayden takes a hands-on administrative approach in, among other things, purchasing new technology for the journalism programs, arranging and funding journalism teachers’ professional development, and handling the logistics of journalism students’ travel to state and national conferences.

Her work frees up the journalism instructors to focus their energy and time on teaching and advising students. Ms. Hayden also advocates for students’ free speech rights, not only in journalism, but also in the other CTE areas she oversees.


KSPA congratulates Ms. Marla Hayden and thanks her for her support of her students and their free speech rights!


The Sunflower Award recognizes a new adviser who shows enthusiasm and dedication to building a strong journalism program and aims to encourage him/her to remain in the profession. The recipient of the award will receive a student scholarship to a Kansas summer media workshop, a plaque and a complimentary one-year membership to KSPA.  

The nominee will be judged on the following four criteria: 1) Has five or fewer years advising experience: 2) Demonstrates commitment to journalism education; 3) Supports first amendment rights through teaching of the law and allowing student leadership and free expression; 4) Shows improvement in journalism program during advising period.

John Walter

Journalism teacher / student media adviser at Junction City High School

Words of nomination from Joel M. Garver, AV Communications teacher at Junction City High School:

His commitment to scholastic journalism is unwavering, and he continues to seek opportunities for himself to grow as a journalism adviser. Through involvement in both KSPA and JEA, John has gained a wealth of knowledge that he continues to bring back to JCHS and apply to the courses he teaches.

His dedication to developing student leadership and free expression is second to none, and that has been evident in the types of stories his students have begun to cover, as well as the quality of content within those stories. I have personally witnessed major growth in John’s program throughout the past two years. He has made incredible strides to develop a student-run newspaper within our school that is factual, timely and professional.

I believe the improvements John has made throughout his time at JCHS have been nothing short of spectacular, as they have provided our students with a place to express themselves, while also sharing the news of our school, district and community as a whole. Without a teacher like John at JCHS, I strongly believe that the program would not be near what it is today.

Words of nomination from Gennifer Booth, Library Media Specialist at Junction City High School:

In John’s four years at Junction City High School, he has accomplished many wonderful student-directed initiatives. John has helped guide students to transitioning our student publication to an online publication, which has allowed our students to publish more frequently and build upon their 21st century skills. John has also developed positive relationships with our yearbook publisher to work with and resolve a deficit while still working with students on our yearbook to continuously improve on its publication. He strives for building relationships so that all can learn to collaborate effectively and efficiently when working to solve problems.

John has also worked to build his curriculum where all journalism students receive training in 1st Amendment law/ethics. He is an advocate for networking and has had the opportunity to take students to journalism workshops and the KSPA State Contests. His continued effort to provide effective instruction, professional development and instructor guidance to his students has shown through student publications and work.

Words from the selection committee:

During his four years teaching and advising journalism at Junction City High School, Mr. Walter has demonstrated a dedication to building a strong, student-centered program, and to advancing his professional growth. He spearheaded a transition of an online student newspaper, he teaches and advocates for student free expression, and he is engaged in student journalism initiatives at the state and national levels. Mr. Walter is a model early-career journalism educator.


KSPA congratulates John Walter for his continued efforts to better himself and the publications he leads at Junction City High School.


  • Do you know someone who fits the descriptions above? Do you have an award winner in mind for next year? KSPA continually accepts nominations for the awards until a March deadline each year.
  • There were no nominations for Friend of KSPA, Hall of Fame or Ad Astra awards this year.

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