Viking adviser Ellen Austin receives national journalism award
Ellen Austin, the adviser for The Viking, Palo Alto High School’s sports magazine, received the Dow Jones News Fund 2012 High School Journalism Teacher of the Year Award this past weekend.
Paul Kandell, a fellow Palo Alto High School journalism teacher and the winner of the award in 2009, informed the Viking staff in class on Monday, Sept. 10 in a small ceremony in front of several other teachers and administrators. Kandell made sure to emphasize all of the work it takes behind the scenes for a teacher to receive the award.
“You know part of what she does,” he said. “And you don’t know all of what she does.”
In addition to advising The Viking, Austin also teaches beginning journalism and AP Literature, as well as holding several national journalism positions, including serving as a Regional Director for the Journalism Education Center and working on the Student Press Law Center’s Steering Committee.
Other teachers were also quick to add their praise, including Esther Wojcicki, the journalism adviser for The Campanile, Palo Alto High School’s newspaper.
“It’s a real honor to have Ellen here at our school,” Wojcicki said.
She also recalled how when Austin arrived at Paly, she was immediately put in charge of the brand new sports magazine. No one was sure what to make of the newly established Viking, as it was the first high school publication of its kind in the country. However, Austin’s impact was immediately visible with the first issue of the magazine.
“At the very beginning, she took that magazine and ran with it,” Wojcicki said.
Austin, on the other hand, chose to deflect much of the credit for the award to the many staff members that have been a part of Paly’s journalism program over the years.
“[The staff members] are the reason for any recognition that our school gets in journalism,” Austin said as part of a brief speech in front of the assembled group.
Kandell echoed a similar sentiment, noting that Austin’s award reflects well on the legacy of Paly’s scholastic journalism.
“[Paly journalism] sparkles a little bit more today,” Kandell said.
As part of the award, Austin will receive a new laptop, paid travel to various journalism conventions and gatherings and the chance to write a quarterly column for Adviser Update, the Dow Jones News Fund’s newspaper.