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MADE IN ILLINOIS: Augustana journalism students become news literacy educators

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Brady Johnson and Olivia Doak, co-editors-in-chief of the Augustana Observer, are shown in the student newspaper's office.

Duo practices compassion, restraint in battle against misinformation

By CHRISTOPHER HEIMERMAN
For Illinois Press Association

ROCK ISLAND – While the co-editors-in-chief of the Augustana Observer began their education as freshmen with a course in news literacy, this past year has been particularly enlightening.

Senior Brady Johnson and junior Olivia Doak have learned to read laterally, vet sources, and have picked their battles with friends, family and strangers who have spread misinformation.

So it’s troubling to them when veteran journalists, albeit long removed from a college course in news literacy, have failed to debunk misinformation, and even spread it however consciously.

“It can be frustrating when you know all these things, and others don’t, people who’ve been around a lot longer than we have,” said Doak, a double-major in multimedia journalism and mass communication, and communication studies. “We talked about misinformation in class, and it really changed the way I looked at information. It changed the way I was writing and made me aware of any bias in my writing.”

Getting others to be self-critical? That’s far trickier, especially when family members spread misinformation.

Johnson said when he confronts anyone questioning proven facts, he comes prepared with his own research and articles from reputable outlets such as NPR and PBS.

“Hopefully I don’t come across as someone who’s trying to prove them wrong,” Johnson said, adding that he often points out accuracies within others’ viewpoints, as something of an olive branch. “I try to be welcoming and try to find something that they’re saying that’s right.”

Doak said it’s important to be aware that there’s only so much time in a day, and so much energy to confront everyone spreading false information.

And in many cases, you have to pick your battles and weed out the ones that can’t be won.

“Usually people who are sharing those kinds of things aren’t going to listen to you,” she said. “I know some people will just attack me. So I usually just ignore it, but it depends on the person. If I know them well, I’ve sent something before.”

Fighting the good fight as a college newsroom has been particularly challenging during the pandemic. In spring 2020, Augustana College froze funds for student jobs for about a month, and then for some time the Observer was on a rotation during which only a couple of employees were paid at a time.

Historically, the Observer has had about 40 staffers in total. Now it has a bit more than 20, and it’s been an adventure keeping tabs on them since Johnson and Doak became editors-in-chief in the fall. A few staffers have contracted COVID-19, and many have been quarantined when a housemate has gotten sick.

“It’s been super-difficult,” Doak said. “A lot of staff I haven’t met face-to-face, and I wouldn’t probably recognize them if I saw them around campus. So that’s strange.”

Johnson, who said he’s wanted to be a journalist since the seventh grade, when the nightly news and morning shows were always on in his home, said one way he’d like to attack misinformation is through human interest stories.

“Those stories show the best of people, while also addressing big issues,” he said.

Doak echoed her passion for issue-driven features, and admitted that the daily grind of exclusively hard news might not be for her in the long haul.

Both she and Johnson are well aware of the shift toward the gig economy, but Johnson is hopeful he can land a job in a traditional newsroom. In fact, he said he’s looking at opportunities in bigger markets, where many large newspaper groups have cut loose long-tenured employees and their salaries that dwarf those of newcomers.

“I might be more lucky finding a job entering,” he said.

Johnson grew up in Peoria and was an intern at the Journal Star in summer 2018.

“Most of the staff was gone, so I was aware of the landscape,” he said. “I’d like a job that can just keep an apartment.”

But first, he, Doak, and their team have a monumental project to bring home: the Observer’s first magazine, which will center on social justice. They hope to print about 800 copies. After the pandemic forced the Observer to shift from printing weekly to occasionally, to see the magazines in people’s hands as they’re read on campus will be something to behold.

“Oh my gosh, I’ll be so happy,” Doak said. “I prefer having something in front of me. I prefer seeing everything laid out. Last year, whenever I saw somebody reading our issues, I’d get so excited. People don’t take
the time to read the news in general. To see them actually sitting down and reading something
makes me so happy.”

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Press Releases

 

Americans have been preparing
for the impact of a pandemic for over 75 years!

From home economics to the modern family and consumer sciences classes, the foundation of basic life skills helped bring families through 2020 and beyond.  


Feb. 9, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Marissa Kunerth, communications & public relations manager
Family, Career and Community Leaders of America
mkunerth@fcclainc.org

703-716-1308


RESTON, VA For many, it has taken a global pandemic to motivate them to refine and reuse many basic life skills. With restaurants closed and stay-at-home mandates in place, a growing number of adults have turned to online tutorials, social media recipes, and family and friends to learn basic life skills. Admittedly, more than a fourth of Americans admit they cannot cook and claim this skill is something they now realize is an essential skill that should be taught in every school in the United States.

75 years ago, when Future Homemakers of America (FHA), presently known as Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), was founded, no one thought the skills gained through Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) classes would get families through a pandemic. The country was digging out of the Great Depression and using skills taught at home and in Home Economics to rebuild the economy of our country. In education, Home Economics transitioned to Family and Consumer Sciences in 1994 and some felt these classes were no longer essential. Since 2012, there has been an estimated 40% decline in FCS classes, but the coronavirus pandemic has led to an outcry to bring “Home Ec” back and reinforced how important basic life skills are to not only be successful at home but holistically as humans impacting careers and communities.

Since its inception in 1945, FCCLA has promoted the need for FCS education for every student in every state in every school. FCCLA knows the importance of FCS education, which provides students with lifelong skills such as nutrition, menu planning, food preparation, clothing care and construction, money management, child development, and workforce readiness. Many students move from learning basic skills in an apron to preparing hopefully to someday wear a chef’s coat.

Illinois State Adviser Marta Lockwood shares, “The Illinois Association of FCCLA is proud to be a part of the long-standing legacy of helping students become great leaders. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing young people making a difference in their personal lives, their homes, schools, and communities!”

Through FCS education, FCCLA provides opportunities for members to develop 21st century skills that enhance students’ understanding of community, work, family, and their interpersonal relationships. This year, FCCLA celebrates its 75th anniversary by commemorating all 50 state associations who have contributed to student’s success through character development, creative and critical thinking, interpersonal communication, practical knowledge, and career preparation.

Since chartering with the national organization in January 1946, thousands upon thousands of Illinois students have taken advantage of this incredible organization and all it has to offer. As a youth led organization, Illinois FCCLA has teams of student officers who serve at every level of the organization from the local high schools to the state and national levels. These youth leaders plan and assist with all the community service projects, leadership training, and conferences that are held. Illinois State Adviser Marta Lockwood adds “one of the greatest things about FCCLA is that it has so many different programs and opportunities for the students to find success in. From community service projects to competitive events, FCCLA gives students the opportunity to combine their education and leadership skills to make a difference and receive recognition for their accomplishments”.

FCCLA’s 75thanniversary is a major milestone for the organization and FCS education. Whether one is looking to feel confident in the kitchen, make a difference in their community, or prepare for career success, FCCLA and FCS is the secret ingredient to succeed in the home and workplace.

Research Sources:

Tufts University: https://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/general-nutrition/28-of-americans-cant-cook

WZDX Fox: https://www.rocketcitynow.com/article/news/what-ever-happened-to-home-ec-millennials-struggling-with-home-and-nutrition-skills/525-7f8fd87d-2134-408f-909b-4687ba46b496

About FCCLA

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) is a dynamic and effective national student organization that helps young men and women become leaders and address important personal, family, work, and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education. FCCLA has more than182,000 members and 5,253 chapters from 48 state associations, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.


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Illinois Principals Association to host first virtual Education Leaders Conference in February  

Feb. 1, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Dr. Jason Leahy, executive director
Illinois Principals Association
jason@ilprincipals.org

217-525-1383

SPRINGFIELD – In a first for the Illinois Principals Association, we are hosting our Annual Education Leaders Conference virtually. The 49th annual Education Leaders Conference and Exhibition, “L.E.A.D.” Conference (Learning – Equity – Advocacy – Diversity) will take place online February 22-23, 2021. The annual conference provides an opportunity for principals and other administrators to learn from leaders in the education field and participate in sessions to better serve their schools. 
 
“School leaders have been there to support teachers, guide parents, and serve our students through the multitude of challenges this school year,” said Dr. Amy Dixon, IPA President. “With the aid of the Illinois Principals Association, principals have not only overcome the challenges, but shown tremendous personal growth and flexibility.  Now it is time for school leaders to take time to recharge and renew their purpose, passion, and leadership. The IPA Education Leaders Conference is the premiere event of the year that will allow them to do that and so much more!”
 
The conference will include presentations from keynote speakers Adam Welcome, Illinois State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala, and Beth Houf.  Monday’s first general session will feature Adam Welcome, a Principal and Director of Innovation for a large school district in the Bay Area of California, and his presentation “Kids Deserve It!” Mr. Welcome has been honored as Principal of the Year for his region, a “20 to Watch” for the National School Board Association, guest blogger for EdWeek, NAESP magazine, and other publications. His presentation is a simple, yet profound message to become more engaged with your school community.
 
Speakers at the second general session on Monday afternoon include Dr. Carmen Ayala, Illinois State Superintendent of Schools, and Dr. Amy Dixon, principal of Jefferson and Lincoln Elementary Schools in Carmi, IL and IPA President. IPA Principal of the Year awards, the Reaching Out & Building Bridges Award, and the Mr. John Ourth & Dr. Fred W. Singleton Professional Development Scholarships will also be presented at this session.
 
Beth Houf will begin the conference Tuesday morning with her presentation “The Power of Appreciation,” including strategies to build rapport with students, staff, and parents. Beth Houf is the proud principal of Fulton Middle School in central Missouri.  She is the Co-Author of “Lead Like a PIRATE:  Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff.”  Beth also serves as a facilitator for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Leadership Academy, providing monthly training to state educational leaders.  She has spoken at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference, the Association for Middle-Level Education National Conference, the National Principals Conference, and many other state and local educational venues. 
 
The conference will include popular IGNITE sessions, presented by IPA Principal of the Year Award Winners and leaders including Mandy Ellis (Principal, Dunlap Grade School), Dan Kaiser (Retired Principal, Dwight Township High School), Hattie Llewellyn (Principal, New Berlin High School), Dr. Tron Young (Principal, Joseph Arthur Middle School), Dr. Marcus Belin (Principal, Huntley High School), and Abir Othman (Associate Principal, Victor J. Andrew High School). These innovative, fast-paced sessions provide a unique way to hear from dynamic speakers who will inspire fellow leaders.
 
Small group sessions at the conference include timely topics such as: Race Relations in Schools; Practical Steps for Transforming School Culture; Trauma Informed Care; Leading through the Lens of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Attendance, Chronic Absence, and Equity; Building Leadership Teams; and legislative and legal updates. Conference attendees can also explore the online exhibit hall for the latest in educational products and services, and resource materials from sponsors such as AMBA (Association Member Benefits Advisors), ECRA Group, Good for Schools, Horace Mann, Illinois Principals Foundation, Lifetouch School Portraits and Southern Illinois University Carbondale. For more information about the Education Leaders Conference, please visit ipafc20.zerista.com. For more information about IPA, please visit www.ilprincipals.org.
 

The Illinois Principals Association is a leadership organization which serves over 5,800 educational leaders throughout the state of Illinois and whose mission is to develop, support, and advocate for innovative educational leaders.

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Ten $1,000 Scholarships Now Available for Midwest High School Seniors  

High school seniors from states that surround Iowa have a chance to earn one of 10 $1,000 college scholarships


Jan. 13, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Christopher Weishaar
Digital Public Relations Specialist
Iowa Student Loan
cweishaar@studentloan.org

(515) 273-7140

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA (Jan. 13, 2021) — High school seniors from Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin now have a chance to receive one of 10 college scholarships worth $1,000. Registration is open now through April 30, 2021.

High school seniors may register for the ISL Midwest Senior Scholarship at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Midwest. Iowa Student Loan® will award $1,000 scholarships to 10 students whose names are randomly drawn after the registration period. Registered students also receive emails highlighting financial literacy tips, such as the importance of early career and college planning and ways to reduce student loan indebtedness.

“We know 2020 has been a tough year on students and families mentally and financially. We want high school seniors to have the tools and resources they need to plan and pay for college,” said Steve McCullough, president and CEO of Iowa Student Loan. “The information students receive during the program can help them make better decisions as they consider college finances, student loans and their future financial situations. We hope families also take this opportunity to explore all the free resources available on our website.”

The ISL Midwest Senior Scholarship is open to legal U.S. citizens who are seniors at a high school in one of the qualifying states during the 2020–2021 school year and who intend to attend college, either virtually or physically, in fall 2021. It is a no-purchase-required program, and full rules and details are available at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Midwest.


Additional Resources Available 

Iowa Student Loan also has additional resources for families planning for college and for students who intend to pursue advanced degrees. The Parent Handbook consists of valuable tips to help families of students in sixth through 12th grades prepare for success in college and other postsecondary options. Parents of students in eighth through 12th grades can also sign up to receive twice-monthly emailed tips on academic, college and career planning through the Student Planning Pointers for Parents program. The College Funding Forecaster helps families understand the total cost of four years of college based on a freshman-year financial aid offer. Information about these resources is available at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/SmartBorrowing.


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About Iowa Student Loan
Established in 1979 as a private, nonprofit organization, Iowa Student Loan helps students and families obtain the resources necessary to succeed in postsecondary education. Iowa Student Loan has helped nearly 400,000 students pay for college. The organization, based in West Des Moines, Iowa, also provides an array of borrower benefits, financial literacy tools and community reinvestment programs, including support for free college planning services for students and their families. For more information about Iowa Student Loan, visit www.IowaStudentLoan.org.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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