Jeffrey Welch, Wichita South High School’s journalism adviser, has been named the 2020 winner of the Jackie Engel Award, which recognizes the top Kansas high school teachers for their excellence in publications advising.
Welch has advised Wichita South’s student magazine, “The Torch,” and yearbook, “Sceptre,” since 2007. He is also an adjunct professor at his alma mater, Butler Community College, in mass communications and public speaking.
Welch was inspired to go into the journalism field after working for his student publication in college, the Butler Grizzly, and worked in advertising for his undergrad and post-grad work. After spending ten years in the business world, Welch took a position as adviser at Wichita South.
“Not that I didn’t enjoy high school, but I just kind of felt like I was another body in the building,” Welch said. “I wanted to have students be able to understand that that’s not the case. That’s not who they are. Their voices are important, their beliefs are important. Being a journalism adviser has allowed me to give them that platform to speak the things that really mean something to them and not just have everybody dictate those ideas for them.”
Welch offers remarks on award, advising career
Welch received his Associate of Science degree in 1993 from Butler Community College, a B.A. in Communications in 1996 from Wichita State, an M.S. in Communications from Kansas State in 1998 and an M.S. in education in 2011 from Fort Hays State.
Parents and students have said Welch works hard to help his students and be there for them. Welch said his favorite part of advising has been seeing his students grow.
“I’ve been able to see students come into my room not really knowing they wanted to do journalism and now [they’re] either working in the field, or they’re in college doing things,” Welch said. “To see these students blossom just because you gave them the opportunity, you gave them so ideas and some direction—those for me are the proud moments and the overwhelming things that make this job amazing.”
Sponsored by the Kansas Collegiate Media, the Jackie Engel Award is the highest statewide honor a Kansas journalism adviser can receive. The award was named in honor of a former journalism teacher at McPherson High School. Engel helped bring national recognition to Kansas high school journalism and was the first recipient of the award in 1990. She died in 2005, but her legacy of excellence lives on in this award.
The Kansas Collegiate Media awards this honor. The KSPA Board and Staff congratulate Welch, the 2020 Jackie Engel Award Winner. We are humbled to have such amazing journalism advisers, including Welch, representing our state.