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Spencer O’Daniel, adviser at Maize Career Academy, named 2023 Engel Award Winner

From a press release provided by Kansas Collegiate Media:

Kansas Collegiate Media is honored to announce Spencer O’Daniel, teacher and publications adviser at Maize Career Academy, as the 2023 Jackie Engel Award winner for excellence in scholastic publications advising.

“Mr. O’Daniel is the among the best in Kansas, in fact, in the nation at education and innovation,” wrote Sharon Martin, student publications adviser at Wichita East High School and former Jackie Engel Award recipient. “The Engel award is most fitting for this innovative educator.

Nominations came from colleagues, mentors, administrators and former students, and each cited O’Daniel’s passion, compassion and innovation.

“Mr. O’Daniel’s passion for education, for students, and for his subject area as well as his compassion for all students is what sets him apart from other teachers,” Martin wrote. “During his tenure as a broadcast instructor with the Career Academy of the Maize school district, he has lit a fire among the students, pushing them and encouraging them to produce shows of quality and worth, and the students have responded accordingly.”

O’Daniel’s commitment to innovation continues to drive his students and their programs to experiment with storytelling techniques and staff organization. That innovative mindset led to bringing students from the district’s two high schools together to create, write and produce the OneMaize show, which has since been recognized for excellence at both the state and national level.

“The OneMaize show is a trusted source for feature stories about national conversations, led by students who are able to use their own voices to influence policies and decisions,” wrote Lindsay King, director of college and career readiness for the Maize district. “Mr. O’Daniel empowers students to tell their own stories in their own voice and share their passions, thoughts, and ideas through these stories.

Ultimately, O’Daniel led the district in bringing together media students from both high schools for a journalism program where students do converged media through a quarterly print newsmagazine, a website and the OneMaize broadcast show.

“Convergence journalism has been a buzzword and concept for nearly two decades among student publications, but few have managed to fully adopt the practice,” said Amy DeVault, president of Kansas Collegiate Media. “What O’Daniel and his colleagues have successfully accomplished is truly commendable, and the fact that the program also merges students from two different schools and provides coverage of both schools is remarkable.”

O’Daniel first worked as a journalism teacher at Wichita West High School, where he grew the journalism programs from three or four students on each publication staff to 20 or more on each staff.

“I was a senior, unsure of what to do with my life or even what next year would bring,” wrote former West student and current Wichita Eagle reporter Matthew Kelly. “He encouraged me to apply for a reporter position at the Wichita State Sunflower student newspaper. Spencer was the one who helped me realize my writing skills could get me more than just good grades. In his class, I learned the satisfaction of getting the hard stories right. That feeling never gets old.”

Kansas Collegiate Media will present O’Daniel with the Jackie Engel Award at the KCM Spring Conference in April, and he will be recognized again by the Kansas Scholastic Press Association in May.

Jackie Engel

Jacquelynn “Jackie” Engel was a long-time journalism educator, serving as journalism teacher and publications adviser at McPherson High School from 1966-1987. She then served as executive secretary of KSPA, with headquarters at the University of Kansas, until 1989. During that time, she was instrumental in passage of the Kansas Student Publications Act in 1992.

Jackie taught hundreds of high school journalists through her publications, classes, workshops and conferences. She was a state director for the national Journalism Education Association, which honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award. She earned the Gold Key from Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the Pioneer Award from the National Scholastic Press Association.


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