Journalism educator receives Pioneer Award
By Lisa Nicklanovich; Photo courtesy of Kristi Rathbun
The Connection congratulates Kristi Rathbun, MJE, journalism teacher and adviser at Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) for receiving the 2020 Pioneer Award from the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA).
The Castle Pines Connection has been collaborating with Rathbun for many years. Nearly all of The Connection’s student intern writers and student photographers were recommended by Rathbun, which has offered her students the opportunity to have published articles and photos outside of their school. Rathbun, who is in her 25th year in scholastic media, has also been a resource for numerous articles in The Connection.
Nominated by her mentor Jack Kennedy, Rathbun is one of only four educators in the nation to receive this prestigious award. Rathbun has a number of roles at RCHS; she teaches advanced placement language and composition, journalism and photojournalism and is the adviser for The Rock student newspaper, the Black and Gold yearbook and rockmediaonline.org. Additionally, Rathbun is the vice president of the Colorado Student Media Association and recently took on the additional role of gifted education facilitator.
The Pioneer Award is the highest honor NSPA grants to journalism educators. Pioneers are individuals who make substantial contributions to high school journalism programs and scholastic journalism education outside their primary employment.
The four recipients will be recognized in person at a future Journalism Education Association/NSPA adviser awards luncheon. On the NSPA website, Laura Widmer, NSPA executive director, stated, “This year’s class of Pioneers are veteran advisers who have made a notable difference. They are educators who go above and beyond in the classroom and newsroom. They are not only great teachers, but also are amazing student media advisers. They also have earned the respect and admiration from students and colleagues nationwide. These Pioneers represent the best of the best in the country.”
Amanda Brauchler, RCHS student intern writer for The Connection, stated, “If there’s any adviser in the country that deserves this award, Mrs. Rathbun would be it. She brings out the best in her students. She pushes us in every facet of journalism: to design well, report on tough stories, and ask the difficult questions. Not only does she help us create a nationally-competitive paper and yearbook; she is a safe haven for students throughout the school. We can always count on Rathbun to support us and look out for us, which means so much this year.”
Rathbun said, “This award is very humbling and motivates me to keep being a resource for anyone I can.”