News

Paly teacher Ellen Austin wins Dow Jones award

English, journalism teacher guides student sports magazine, daily broadcast

The Dow Jones News Fund has named Ellen Austin of Palo Alto High School "National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year."

As the winner, Austin, who teaches both journalism and AP literature at Paly, will speak before national conferences on journalism education and write a column for the newspaper of the Dow Jones News Fund, which supports journalism education and promotes careers in journalism.

The Dow Jones fund has selected 54 teachers of the year since 1960, including Paly teacher Paul Kandell in 2009.

Austin is entering her sixth year at Paly, where she is among several teachers guiding a 500-plus-student media arts program, which produces an array of publications and broadcasts, including newspaper, magazine, video and Web.

Besides teaching, Austin advises the Viking sports magazine and website and co-advises INfocus, a live daily news broadcast. INfocus also produces 30-minute feature segments six times a year.

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"We've been retooling and re-imagining what our broadcast program can be, and it's come light years in two years," Austin said.

"Two-and-a-half years ago we were still using videotape. Now it's all digital, and we added the long-form piece last year.

In a joint project last year with actor and 1996 Paly graduate James Franco, the Viking and INFocus collaborated to film every single varsity athletic event at Paly, Austin said.

"We got the footage, and Franco's got it. They're pondering an art installation they want to use this footage for," she said.

"It was an exciting and interesting collaboration project across staffs, which is where journalism is going. Instead of small fiefdoms, it's about reaching out to colleagues to do multi-platform projects together."

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Austin also highlighted the student journalists' work last year on coverage of 2006 Paly graduate and pro basketball player Jeremy Lin, including an interview following a Knicks game in New York.

Austin was recruited to Paly in 2007 from St. Paul Academy in St. Paul, Minn., where she taught for three years. Prior to that, she taught for five years at Cannon Falls High School in Cannon Falls, Minn., where she helped to start a student newspaper.

She was the 2011 California Journalism Educator of the Year and spent four weeks this past summer as a National Endowment for the Humanities grant recipient studying Chaucer's life and works in London.

Austin chairs the Student Press Law Center's steering committee and served as a Journalism Education Association regional director from 2008 to 2011.

She earned a bachelor's in marketing from the University of Illinois at Champaign and a master's in secondary English from the University of Minnesota.

Paly's media arts program is expected to move next year into a new building now under construction near the Embarcadero Road side of campus.

"This building, which is part of the bond issue, is a once-in-a-career opportunity and gives us the chance to re-imagine what Paly journalism can do in the decades ahead," she said.

"I can't tell you how much the bond has meant to us as a school community, especially when so many other districts are in such pain."

Austin said she plans to strike the theme of "inclusion" in her Nov. 17 acceptance speech at the National High School Journalism convention in San Antonio, Tex.

"Two things that matter a lot to me are student press rights and freedom of expression, and emphasizing the idea of inclusion, from the newsroom to the stories we tell to the audience that we reach," she said.

"It's reaching out to as many constituencies as we can, both in our community and beyond."

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Paly teacher Ellen Austin wins Dow Jones award

English, journalism teacher guides student sports magazine, daily broadcast

Uploaded: Wed, Sep 12, 2012, 5:00 pm

The Dow Jones News Fund has named Ellen Austin of Palo Alto High School "National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year."

As the winner, Austin, who teaches both journalism and AP literature at Paly, will speak before national conferences on journalism education and write a column for the newspaper of the Dow Jones News Fund, which supports journalism education and promotes careers in journalism.

The Dow Jones fund has selected 54 teachers of the year since 1960, including Paly teacher Paul Kandell in 2009.

Austin is entering her sixth year at Paly, where she is among several teachers guiding a 500-plus-student media arts program, which produces an array of publications and broadcasts, including newspaper, magazine, video and Web.

Besides teaching, Austin advises the Viking sports magazine and website and co-advises INfocus, a live daily news broadcast. INfocus also produces 30-minute feature segments six times a year.

"We've been retooling and re-imagining what our broadcast program can be, and it's come light years in two years," Austin said.

"Two-and-a-half years ago we were still using videotape. Now it's all digital, and we added the long-form piece last year.

In a joint project last year with actor and 1996 Paly graduate James Franco, the Viking and INFocus collaborated to film every single varsity athletic event at Paly, Austin said.

"We got the footage, and Franco's got it. They're pondering an art installation they want to use this footage for," she said.

"It was an exciting and interesting collaboration project across staffs, which is where journalism is going. Instead of small fiefdoms, it's about reaching out to colleagues to do multi-platform projects together."

Austin also highlighted the student journalists' work last year on coverage of 2006 Paly graduate and pro basketball player Jeremy Lin, including an interview following a Knicks game in New York.

Austin was recruited to Paly in 2007 from St. Paul Academy in St. Paul, Minn., where she taught for three years. Prior to that, she taught for five years at Cannon Falls High School in Cannon Falls, Minn., where she helped to start a student newspaper.

She was the 2011 California Journalism Educator of the Year and spent four weeks this past summer as a National Endowment for the Humanities grant recipient studying Chaucer's life and works in London.

Austin chairs the Student Press Law Center's steering committee and served as a Journalism Education Association regional director from 2008 to 2011.

She earned a bachelor's in marketing from the University of Illinois at Champaign and a master's in secondary English from the University of Minnesota.

Paly's media arts program is expected to move next year into a new building now under construction near the Embarcadero Road side of campus.

"This building, which is part of the bond issue, is a once-in-a-career opportunity and gives us the chance to re-imagine what Paly journalism can do in the decades ahead," she said.

"I can't tell you how much the bond has meant to us as a school community, especially when so many other districts are in such pain."

Austin said she plans to strike the theme of "inclusion" in her Nov. 17 acceptance speech at the National High School Journalism convention in San Antonio, Tex.

"Two things that matter a lot to me are student press rights and freedom of expression, and emphasizing the idea of inclusion, from the newsroom to the stories we tell to the audience that we reach," she said.

"It's reaching out to as many constituencies as we can, both in our community and beyond."

Chris Kenrick

Comments

Paul Kandell
Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm
Paul Kandell, Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm
Like this comment

Kudos to my colleague, the extraordinary Ellen Austin, on her well-deserved award. She's a pioneer in 21st century scholastic journalism and an inspiration for her colleagues and students. Paly is lucky to have her. Have a great year, Ellen.


Paly alum
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm
Paly alum, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm
Like this comment

Two top awards in three years! Well done, Paly, and congratulations to Ms. Austin! Coming on the heels of Mr. Kandel's award this is really cool!


Sylvia
Midtown
on Sep 13, 2012 at 11:15 am
Sylvia, Midtown
on Sep 13, 2012 at 11:15 am
Like this comment

Wow. This teacher sounds like an amazing combination of talent and energy. Our school district is very lucky to have her.

Congratulations on having been nationally recognized to Ellen Austin.


Jon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm
Jon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm
Like this comment

I doubt we will hear from the "PAUSD Could Do Better" folks on this but this is a tremendous achievement....


Nit picker
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm
Nit picker, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm
Like this comment

The University of Illinois at Champaign.


Grateful Parent
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm
Grateful Parent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm
Like this comment

Jon: I have been following the work of WCDBPA in advocating for our young people across the district. Whenever I attended a school board meeting and a member of WCDBPA was present they seemed to have no problem recognizing the many outstanding teachers and staff in our district and, in point of fact, they have been quite vocal at giving credit where credit is due. I am glad that they have been willing to help improve conditions at our schools. We need more active parent groups in addition to the PTAs.

The focus of this article in on Ms. Austin. She is to be commended for this great honor! How fortunate we all are as a district to have teachers of this caliber in our schools!


Scotty Bara, Photo Editor of The Viking Magazine
Crescent Park
on Sep 16, 2012 at 11:15 am
Scotty Bara, Photo Editor of The Viking Magazine, Crescent Park
on Sep 16, 2012 at 11:15 am
Like this comment

Ms.Austin is truly passionate about about her job as an advisor for our sports magazine, The Viking. She has created a leading edge in journalism at Paly for the digital world. I think she definitely deserved the Dow Jones Journalism Teacher of the Year award.


teach every child
Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm
teach every child, Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm
Like this comment

Actually Jon, within an hour of this story being posted, School Board Candidate Ken Dauber posted it to his facebook page at Web Link with this glowing message of praise for Ms. Austin:
"I visited a Paly journalism class this week to discuss my campaign for school board. It is a truly impressive program and the kids were great. Kudos for a great program and great teachers that increase community engagement and achievement.

Your comment is just intended to hijack a thread about Ms. Austin's stellar performance by making unfounded allegations and attracting the trolls who hang out on this anonymous board.


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