RCHS teacher top in her field
Yearbook guru Kristi Rathbun is the student media adviser at Rock Canyon High School (RCHS) and a master journalism educator (MJE). She was recently named 2022 H.L. Hall National Yearbook Advisor of the Year by the Journalism Education Association (JEA).
The top award was announced at a faculty luncheon at RCHS in late December 2022. JEA President Sarah Nichols, MJE traveled here to surprise Rathbun with the award in person. According to the JEA website, the “H.L. Hall National Yearbook Advisor of the Year program is designed to honor outstanding advisers and their exemplary work from the previous year, as well as throughout their careers.”
Rathbun and her yearbook crew at RCHS are not new to success. The Black & Gold yearbook has been nominated for and won several state and national awards and recognitions. Erin Harris, MJE and awards chair for JEA, summed up the list of accomplishments: “In the last four years, the Black & Gold has earned NSPA All-American honors, Gold Medal critiques from CSPA and All-Colorado honors for 12 years in a row. Rathbun’s students were Pacemaker finalists in 2019 and won Pacemakers in both 2020 and 2021. CSPA put the publication on the Crown list in 2019, 2020 and 2021, and the staff won Gold Crown in 2020.”
Rathbun isn’t just successful in guiding students to create an award-winning yearbook, she is passionate about the students themselves. She built the RCHS yearbook program around an attitude of inclusion. At one time, the Black & Gold crew was a handful of dedicated girls; now it’s grown into two full classes spanning the scope of diversity at RCHS. “We aren’t exclusive; we’re inclusive and we’ve grown into an awesome community that truly represents the complex facets and faces of our school,” Rathbun explained.
The yearbook community welcomes rookie journalists and students with more experience. Male and female students now fill her classes, advance placement students work side by side with their special education peers. Student interests outside of the yearbook are as diverse as the students themselves: sports, music, art and journalism are some of the other interests of her students. Rathbun is a mentor and friend to many.
Rathbun’s mentorship extends far beyond the walls of RCHS. She has been a yearbook advisor for more than 25 years, and in 15 of those she also served as JEA’s Colorado state director. She loves judging and critiquing, at RCHS or beyond. “I take each critique as an honor, and I aim to help them find ways to improve and push the quality of their content,” Rathbun stated. She thrives on serving others. “Service fills me up,” she said. That dedication to serving others is part of what makes Rathbun an exceptional teacher and mentor.
Editor’s note: Rathbun has been especially helpful in assisting The Connection with photos and content relative to RCHS. We appreciate you and congratulate you on your many well-deserved awards.
By Celeste McNeil; photos courtesy of Kristi Rathbun