One of the great parts of being the 2016 JEA National High School Broadcast Adviser of the Year is seeing the excitement of the next honoree. However, 564 miles separates me from 2017 honoree Alyssa Boehringer. Instead of being there in person, I created a video (with the help of my daughter) to help pass the proverbial torch. I was also able to contact Alyssa to have a great conversation, which we are sharing with JEA Digital Media.
MT: I am excited to pass on the JEA National High School Broadcast Adviser of the Year honor to you, Alyssa! I think you’re incredibly deserving. Sadly, the miles between Missouri and Texas kept me from being there in person and I missed your reaction. How did it feel? Describe the moment.
AB: Thanks, Michelle. When my principal started playing the video of you and your daughter at our faculty luncheon, I didn’t recognize you at first (out of context, I guess), but once y’all started talking about YouTubing, I put my cookies down as I realized what might be happening. When you announced it in the video, I stood and awkwardly waved to my fellow faculty members as they applauded. It wasn’t until I turned around and saw Mark Murray standing there with my husband, daughter and dozens of former students from the past decade holding balloons and flowers that I realized this was the real thing. Not only would I receive one of the greatest honors I could receive in my career, but all of a sudden I had so many of my favorite people in one room there to support me. It felt incredible.
MT: Sounds like you had a great time. Now, you do know that as the 2017 JEA National High School Broadcast Adviser of the Year, you’ll share your knowledge and tips with us on JEA Digital Media. Can you give us a sneak peek of some of the topics you plan to write about?
AB: Every day is an adventure, so I expect topics on JEA Digital Media to reflect whatever is happening to our staff at the time. For example, just this week, I received word that our CTE department has finally ordered a set for our studio that’s been sitting empty since 2013. That’s been quite a process, so I’ll likely start by talking about that. And hopefully soon, we won’t have to shoot our anchors out in the hallway anymore. But you work with what you got, right?
MT: I know all too well how right that is! On another note, as technology changes and trends come and go, what do you think are a few of the most essential principles of Broadcast Journalism that advisers need to focus on regardless of technological advances?
AB: There’s a reason I still show Steve Hartman reports from more than a decade ago in class. Story. Story. Story. Beginning, middle and end. The coolest toys and gadgets can’t tell a story on their own. Great stories are told by the decisions reporters make during shooting and editing.
MT: Agreed. Steve Hartman, Bill Geist, and a few others are my go-to reporters to reinforce those basic skills. Speaking of stories, I know after decades of advising BJJTV, there are certain stories I cannot forget. Looking back on the body of work your students have produced, what are a few stories or productions that stick out? Why?
AB: My students do a regular segment they call “Teacher Home Invasion.” It’s pretty self-explanatory. They go to a teacher’s house and take a tour to try and get to know them better. In 2009, a couple of students visited the home of our AP physics teacher and AP chemistry teacher who lived together as roommates. They played World of Warcraft, had periodic table placemats and shared the cooking and cleaning duties. The physics teacher came down to the broadcasting room a couple times to check on the kids’ edit before it aired. Fast-forward seven years. We’re married and our daughter turns two in February. That was a package I won’t soon forget.
MT: I bet! I love that story of how you met your husband. I bet your child will enjoy hearing that story in the years to come. So, this honor is from JEA. I know that JEA is a valuable resource in my professional life for sure. How has JEA impacted you?
AB: JEA first impacted me when I attended the conventions in high school with my journalism adviser, Lori Oglesbee. Conventions are the reason I became a teacher – no doubt about it. For some kids, when they go to a convention, this is the only trip they may ever take. Or it’s the first time they’ve been in an airplane. The first time they’ve seen the White House or the Grand Canyon. They hear professional speakers and the top educators in the country present sessions about things that are important to them. Those experiences were essential to my high school journalism education and they’re essential to me as an adviser. I have JEA to thank for that.
MT: Agreed again! I will never forget those moments with students on JEA trips where they are not only learning more about journalism, but about their country and even themselves. Last, but not least, for new broadcast advisers out there, what advice do you have to help them make it through those first years?
AB: If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right. The first years of teaching can be so overwhelming. If you need help, ask for it. And if all else fails, have a good laugh with your kids.
MT: Thank you so much for that insight. I often say if you can’t laugh at least once every 90 minutes a day, then something is really wrong! Alyssa, congratulations on your honor and we are all looking forward to hearing more from you in 2017!