Las Vegas, Nevada – The Society of Professional Journalists honors Lisa Birkley of Highlands High School, Kentucky with the Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award.
Birkley, a journalism and English teacher at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, advises three student publications: The Highlander yearbook, The Hilltopper newspaper and Birds Eye View magazine. She has 12 years of teaching experience and has been with Highlands High School for 10 years. Prior to teaching at Highlands, Lisa taught at Belleuve High School.
“Her passion for her students and love for her job allows her to be one of the best teachers that I have ever had,” said Carly Thompson, a high school junior and editor-in-chief who nominated Birkley. “I think an essential quality for a teacher is versatility, creativity, and compassion. Mrs. Birkley has mastered these qualities.”
“She is a risk taker,” said Thompson. “She is not afraid to publish a story that might cause controversy and she will stand by everything that is published in her publications.” Under Birkley’s advisement, The Hilltopper won first place from the Kentucky High School Journalism Association in 2002 and 2003. Most recently, The Highlander was awarded first place from the KHSJA in 2005.
Birkley has been characterized in her nomination letters as not only a teacher, but a crucial figure in her student’s lives. “For three years she has been my teacher, my mentor, my advisor, and my friend. I can think of no one more worthy” of this award, read a nomination letter from past editor and senior Carey Shea.
“What she has really prepared me for is real life,” said editor Caroline Schroder, a senior. “No other teacher has taught me the essentials that I will use for the rest of my life. I know that with the knowledge she has given me, I will go farther than I ever imagined in life.”
The Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award honors an outstanding journalism educator who has made a significant contribution to the profession and/or journalism education. Students, former students, alumni, colleagues and professionals may submit nominations for the Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award. Anyone teaching in the field of journalism is eligible and nominees do not have to be members of SPJ.
The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The organization is the nation's largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry, works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists, and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.