Official site of the Illinois Journalism Education Association, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston

Congratulations to Katie Comeford, a JEA Rising Star!

The Journalism Education Association has selected 10 scholastic media advisers to receive its 2017 Rising Star Award, and the winners include IJEA board member Katie Comeford, yearbook and digital news media adviser at Phoenix Military Academy in Chicago. She will be honored in April at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle.

January 30, 2017

The Journalism Education Association has selected 10 scholastic media advisers to receive its 2017 Rising Star Award, and the winners include IJEA board member Katie Comeford, yearbook and digital news media adviser at Phoenix Military Academy in Chicago.

The Rising Star Award honors advisers of student media who have completed five or fewer years of advising and show exceptional promise as an adviser and in service to the profession.

“Since its beginning in 2005, this award has become one of our most popular and competitive,” Casey Nichols, JEA Awards Committee chair, said in a press release announcing the winners.

“Many former recipients are involved in state and regional organizations as leaders, have advised award-winning publications, and show great promise in leading our profession into the future.”

In her time at Phoenix Military Academy, part of Chicago Public Schools, Katie has overseen the founding of two student publications: the yearbook and the student news website.

Remarkably, she had never taken a journalism course before teaching at PMA. But she embraced the challenge, participating in the ASNE Reynolds Institute and becoming involved in several scholastic journalism organizations. Katie’s potential was recognized in August 2015 when she won a JEA Future Teacher Scholarship.

Now an active leader with both IJEA and the Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, Katie is completing an online master’s degree for journalism educators from Kent State University. Meanwhile, her students have consistently won honors in publication contests at the city, state and national levels.

Katie and her fellow Rising Star recipients will be honored April 8 at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Seattle. Besides Katie, the other award winners are:

  • Travis Armknecht, CJE, a fourth-year adviser at Grand Center Arts Academy, a 6-12 school in St. Louis.
  • John Horvath, a fifth-year adviser of yearbook at Hill Country Christian School in Austin, Texas.
  • Jordyn Kiel, CJE, a third-year adviser of yearbook at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Mo.
  • Dennis Leizear, CJE, a fifth-year broadcast adviser and second-year online news adviser at Padua Academy in Wilmington, Del.
  • Susan McNulty, a fourth-year adviser of newspaper and yearbook at J.W. Mitchell High School in New Port Ritchey, Fla.
  • Alicia Merrifield, a fifth-year adviser of yearbook at The Village School in Houston.
  • Tim Ryckman, adviser at Rocky Heights Middle School in Highlands Ranch, Colo.
  • Veronica Sarmiento, CJE, a third-year adviser of yearbook at Seminole High School in Sanford, Fla.
  • Andrew Young, a third-year adviser of yearbook of Woodland Junior High School in Fayetteville, Ark.
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