KEMPA Journalism

Adviser of the Year Awards

Annually, at the Fall Scholastic Journalism Conference business meeting of KEMPA, the organization honors Advisers of the Year. Advisers may be nominated by their publication staffs, their administrators or their peers. Nominations should describe, in specific detail, what the adviser has done and/or accomplished that sets that person apart in the minds of the nominators. The Awards Committee makes final decisions.

Use the KEMPA Adviser of the Year nomination to nominate a KEMPA adviser who has gone above and beyond to support student journalists.

Advisers may also nominate themselves by using this KEMPA Adviser of the Year application and directions 2020 .

The nomination deadline is midnight on June 30, 2021.  The application deadline is July 30, 2021.

The 2020 Nancy Becker Newspaper Adviser is Keith Carlson, Naperville Central High School, adviser of the Central Times.

The 2020 Jan Kohls Yearbook Adviser is Michelle Corbett, Indian Trail High School and Academy (Kenosha), adviser of The Blaze.

Carlson and Corbett received their awards at the virtual KEMPA Fall Journalism Conference on Oct. 14, 2020. They were selected for this award because of their commitment to scholastic journalism excellence and their ability to inspire and support their journalism students.

Keith Carlson, Newspaper Adviser of the Year  
Carlson has been a publications adviser since 2008. He inherited a strong newspaper publication, but in his second year, the staff created a website. Both publications have won numerous awards over the years including Pacemakers. 

Carlson’s commitment to scholastic journalism is evident through his JEA Rising Star award in 2013, his participation in ASNE Reynolds High School Journalism in 2015, his CJE certification from the JEA, his masters degree in journalism education from University of Missouri-Columbia and his service on the advisory board for journalism at the IHSA. 

Carlson’s students have won six Illinois High School Association sectional championships and two team state championships. They have also received National Pacemaker recognition, Best in Show awards at the National Convention,and CSPA Gold and Silver Crowns for newspaper (including Gold Crown distinction for hybrid publication in 2016).

According to Carlson’s department chair, Michael L. Doman, “Due to the CT’s investigative reporting, many important issues have risen to the forefront of our school’s collective consciousness. These issues include gender identity and sexuality, body image, vaping and drug use, justice and equality, and academic integrity. In addition, the paper has been a major source of positivity and celebration of the many diverse achievements, perspectives, and experiences of our student body and staff. The Central Times is our paper; it belongs to all of us. Keith’s guidance, support, and immense talent helps to make all of this possible.”

Michelle Corbett, Yearbook Adviser of the Year
Corbett’s students are her inspiration. “There is a special bond that happens in the newsroom,” she said. “We work so hard every day for the benefit of everyone else. I am lucky to spend every day with such wonderful young people and form such great relationships with them. My students are truly my inspiration. There is a special bond that happens in the newsroom. We work so hard every day for the benefit of everyone else. I am lucky to spend every day with such wonderful young people and form such great relationships with them.”

In 2019, The Blaze earned its first All-KEMPA rating. It had also received a First Class rating in 2017, a First Class rating with three Marks of Distinction in 2018 and 2019 from NSPA, a Gold Medal rating in 2017 and 2018, a Gold Medal rating with three All Columbian honors in 2019 from CSPA, and 5th Place News/Feature Photo of the Year 2018. This year their photo editor also received an Honorable Mention in the Academic Category in the Walsworth photo contest.

In 2019, Corbett started the Journalism Education Master’s program through Kent State. She wants to provide her students with the best education possible, so she chose to continue her own education to become the best educated adviser she can be. 

A colleague Danielle Ratkowski said, “Since I’ve started working with Michelle, I’ve seen her passion for journalism grow and her relationship  with her staff get stronger. Each year is looked at as an opportunity to build upon what they already know and  continually get better. Students are encouraged to tackle tough, controversial issues and speak up for what they believe is right, while producing an amazing book that represents our school.”

2020 Newspaper: Keith Carlson, Naperville Central (IL) High School / Yearbook: Michelle Corbett, Indian Trail  (WI) High School and Academy
2019 Newspaper:  Brenda Smith, Grayslake North (IL) High School
2018 Newspaper: Lindsay Skatrud, Brookfield East (WI) High School
2017 Newspaper:  Dennis Brown, Huntley (IL) High School
2016 Newspaper:  Michael Gluskin, Libertyville (IL) High School, and Matthew Smith, Fond du Lac (WI) High School
2015 Newspaper: Patrick Johnson, Antioch Community (IL) High School, and Rachel Rauch, Homestead High School (WI) / Yearbook:  Cindy Renaud, Harborside Academy, Kenosha, WI
2014 Newspaper: Evelyn Lauer, Niles West (IL) High School, and Carolyn Wagner, Lake Zurich (IL) High School / Yearbook: Cathy Newton, Wausau West (WI) High School
2013 Newspaper: Charles Pratt, Niles North (IL) High School / Yearbook: Tom Juran, Brookfield Central (WI) High School
2012 Len Fike, D.C. Everest High School (WI)
2011 Jill Cook, Brookfield Central High School (WI) / Karen Frank, Stillman Valley High School (WI)
2010 Kathleen Burke, Regina Dominican High School (IL)
2008 Mike Doyle, Belvidere North High School (IL) / Tracy Brogelman, Grafton High School (WI)
2007 Barbara Erickson, Jefferson High School (IL) / Fay Hubbard & Andy Wolfe, Superior High School (WI)
2006 Dave Wallner, Stoughton High School (WI) / Jeff Willauer, Waunakee High School (WI)
2005 Elyce Moscella, Brookfield Central (WI) High School / Audrey Kemp, D.C. Everest (WI) High School
2004 Peter Guaquinta, Glenbard North (IL) High School / Patricia Benedict, Guilford (IL) High School
2003 Tammy Rademacher, Waunakee (WI) High School / Kay Sargent, Wisconsin School for the Deaf
2002 Sandra Gruen, Wheeling (IL) High School / Bob Kay, Grayslake (IL) High School
2001 Joan Joas-Faas, Muskego (WI) High School / John Culbertson, Waterloo (WI) High School
2000 Linda Barrington, Wauwatosa East (WI) High School / Elizabeth Wilson, Prospect (IL) High School
1999 Michael Gordy, Antioch (IL) High School / Marcia Sigler, Wisconsin Academy (WI)
1998 Bob Chesney, Ozaukee (WI) High School / Sandy Jacoby, Kenosha Tremper (WI) High School
1997 Mary Mueller, Maine West (IL) High School / Mark Thompson, Antioch Community (IL) High School
1996 Katherine Conover, Janesville Parker (WI) High School / Lisa Peterson, Janesville Parker (WI) High School
1995 Susan Hathaway Tantillo, Wheeling (IL) High School / Sue Tedell, Buffalo Grove (IL) High School
1993 Tom Gebhardt, Prospect (IL) High School / Pat Jonas, Platteville (WI) High School
1992 Jan Kohls, Fort Atkinson (WI) High School / Dave Wiegand, Wausau West (WI) High School
1991 Ron Beem, Byron (IL) High School / Jan Kohls, Fort Atkinson (WI) High School
1988 Nancy Becker, Milton (WI) High School
1987 Marilyn Swanson, Auburn High School, Rockford (IL)

Adviser of the Year Awards