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Renee Burke, MJE, taught at William R. Boone HS, in Orlando for 23 years. Renee was the 2015 JEA H.L. Hall Yearbook Adviser of the Year2012 OCPS Teacher of the Year, 2011 FSPA Journalism Teacher of the Year and a 2011 Gold Key recipient from CSPA. She advised the Legend yearbook and Hi-Lights newspaper for 20 and 21 years, respectively. Both publications earned numerous CSPA Crown awards and NSPA Pacemakers. She currently works for Orange County Public Schools as a Media Promotions Manager.
 
“I am incredibly proud of my time as a high school media adviser. I helped my students soar to heights they never dreamed they could achieve. They learned how to break their self-imposed boundaries to compete with other outstanding journalism programs on a national level; they learned how to persevere when things got tough; and they learned how to feel pride in their products. While I am not in the classroom on a daily basis, I am constantly scrolling through magazines to find good designs and see what’s trending. I’m also passionate about helping develop our next generation of advisers by mentoring newbies. We need young, fresh talent to keep yearbooks alive and I’m proud that I’m able to help others realize they can be successful.”

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Jim Jordan retired as an active yearbook adviser in 2017 after completing his 35th year advising the Decamhian at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California. His students’ yearbooks have won consistent Crown Awards (20) from Columbia Scholastic Press Association and Pacemaker Awards (19) from the National Scholastic Press Association. In 1996 he was selected as the National Yearbook Adviser of the Year by the Journalism Education Association. He also has been awarded the Gold Key by CSPA, the Pioneer Award from NSPA, and the Medal of Merit from JEA. His greatest joy as an adviser though cames from watching his students grow as they created and produced a beautiful book that captures the essence of a school year. He is currently a Special Consultant for Walsworth Yearbooks helping to support new advisers through the Adviser Mentor Program.
 
“I first loved being a yearbook adviser because it was such a challenge to create a beautiful book with bright, talented, creative kids. But what kept me advising for 35 years went far beyond the creation of a book. As a career teacher, what I came to love most was what the experience of being on a yearbook staff did for the kids. Time and time again being a member of the Decamhian staff unlocked skills and talents in kids they never knew they had. Whether it was design, writing, photography skills or leadership skills, it they fully engage in the yearbook experience, they left with something wonderful that made all the hours spent in Room 16 worthwhile.”

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Sabrina Schmitz, CJE, is a sales representative for Walsworth Yearbooks, the former yearbook and newspaper adviser at J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Florida, and will be teaching brand new advisers at this year's Adviser Academy. Under her leadership, The Stampede yearbook was awarded multiple CSPA Crown awards, an NSPA Pacemaker Award, and was a Design of the Year Finalist in 2012. She was recognized as Teacher of the Year in 2013, was a District Teacher of the Year Finalist, and teaches at workshops and conventions around the country.  

“As a yearbook adviser, I felt like my staff members were more than students, they were family. The yearbook room is definitely a unique environment and we would spend as much time goofing around as we did working on spreads. Yet when it came down to it, it was fostering that family atmosphere that inspired those yearbookies to create the best possible publication they could. I hope to help you find valuable ways to manage and inspire your staff and to help you make this whole yearbook adventure as enjoyable as possible.”

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Mike Taylor, CJE journalism specialist for Walsworth, was an adviser for 13 years at Lecanto High School in Lecanto, Florida, where his publications staffs won numerous state and national awards. Taylor has been awarded the JEA Medal of Merit, CSPA Gold Key and Florida Scholastic Press Association Gold Medallion, and is a well-known speaker and instructor at yearbook workshops and conventions across the country.

“The best part of advising is leading kids to dream, guiding them to work and create, and helping them celebrate their accomplishments.”