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KSPA congratulates Ron Johnson on 2019 KSPA Hall of Fame Award

In recognition of his years of service to KSPA — most notably for his work toward the 1992 passage of the Kansas Student Publications Act — Ron Johnson will be presented with the KSPA Hall of Fame Award on Saturday, May 4, 2019. The presentation will occur as part of the KSPA State Contest at the University of Kansas in the Kansas Union’s Woodruff Auditorium.

In 1995, KSPA became the first state organization to create a Scholastic Journalism Hall of Fame in order to honor its own excellent members. Today, 38 names have been added to the permanent Hall of Fame plaque that hangs in the KSPA office in KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism.

The KSPA Hall of Fame was begun as a way of honoring members and friends of high school journalism in Kansas who have contributed to the profession both at the state and national levels. The nominee will be judged on the following criteria: 1) Noteworthy service to KSPA and to the education of student journalists; 2) Outstanding personal achievement in student journalism; 3) Contribution to the field of student journalism; 4) Financial and technical support of student publications; 5) Participation in educational conferences, seminars, workshops and conventions; 6) Significant contribution to the aims and goals of KSPA. 

Ron Johnson

Former KSPA board member

Johnson was nominated by a collection of teachers and scholastic journalism professionals from around the country. Below are excerpts from their letters:

Words of nomination from Kristy Nyp, journalism teacher at Manhattan High School:

From the moment I met Ron Johnson at a Fort Hays State University Leader staff retreat in August of 1986, his gift as a strong leader for student journalists was evident to me. By the time we made it through the introduction games, the training sessions, the story planning and the pool-side picnic at a staff member’s home, I was hooked on journalism as a major and career path, largely due to his enthusiasm and guidance through my first experiences as a college student journalist.

While some people’s interaction with a college professor ends at graduation, Ron has continued to
influence my career and the lessons I teach my students every day … Without his work to preserve student press freedoms for Kansas, I doubt a career as a journalism teacher would have even been an option.

Words of nomination from Laura Widmer, NSPA Executive Director:

Ron’s credentials, honors and accolades check every box in your membership criteria. The number of collegiate and high school journalists he’s influenced over the years cannot be measured. His influence on advisers is much the same. He’s made an impact not only in Kansas, but across the United States, too.

Ron is so passionate about teaching and training student journalists and advisers to improve their craft, their publications. He’s a national treasure, and his heart belongs to Kansas.

Other words of nomination:

“Beyond his incredible memory of long past details and his ability to recall even the minutiae of journalistic law, his passion and his ability to inspire that passion in others is what I most admire about him … Ron Johnson is Kansas’ patron saint of student press rights. His actions have and continue to inspire others to carry that torch.” – Susan Massey, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School

“Ron’s decades of support for KSPA and for journalism in Kansas as well as his consistent efforts to inspire high school students to become better journalists make him an ideal candidate for this
distinguished list.”Kathy Habiger, Mill Valley High School

“As is true with any commoner meeting royalty, I was aware of the amazing Ron Johnson long before I ever had the pleasure of meeting him. He is the embodiment of the saying, his reputation precedes him. What I did not know until I met him, is that he really is a very nice person in addition to being a Kansas journalism legend. The man has done it all in scholastic journalism.” – Jim McCrossen, Blue Valley Northwest High School

“Through his teaching and advising, Ron educated scores of journalists and journalism instructors and helped to set a high standard for journalism education in the state. Much of what journalism students today learn and the goals for which they reach can be traced back to Ron’s teaching and the expectations he set for his students.” – Peter Bobkowski, University of Kansas

“His career exemplifies the kind of dedication to one’s craft that any agency should strive to reward in hopes of motivating others to follow. Accomplishing such a task would prove to reinforce the mission of KSPA, which is, in part, ‘providing journalism education leadership for Kansas teachers and students.'” – Kelly Glasscock, JEA

Words from the selection committee:

“We agree with many of the nomination letters: Ron Johnson is long overdue to the KSPA Hall of Fame. His leadership in helping to pass the Kansas Student Publications Act is the most common achievement mentioned by the nominating letters. That achievement still stands as a landmark achievement — perhaps THE landmark achievement — in the history of Kansas scholastic journalism. His volunteer work at national and state conventions, especially when paired with his willingness to work with individual advisers or staffs, is also a model for journalism educators. We congratulate Ron on his outstanding achievements and thank him for his service to KSPA and the student journalists of Kansas.”

The KSPA board and staff congratulate Ron Johnson for his well-deserved and overdue place on the KSPA Hall of Fame plaque!

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