Veteran advice-the forgotten essentials of your next staff manual!

Olathe West adviser Julia Walker (Advising track) leads a discussion on yearbook essentials in your next staff manual with Jayhawk Media Workshop attendees with Clayton Kistner of Olathe Northwest and Mindy Waldron of Olathe North.

Live from the 2022 Jayhawk Media Workshop at the University of Kansas, I took time on the final instructional day to survey the award-winning Sunflower State advisers to hear their hidden gems in their respective staff manuals.

“What’s one often forgotten essential that every great staff manual NEEDS to have?”

Adviser Susan Massey
School-Shawnee Mission Northwest High School
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop-Yearbook Theme and Planning instructor

“We tend to make it more of a teaching document rather than just a system of policies. I really think it’s important that students have easy access to good examples of writing, good examples of design, good examples of alternative coverage and just all these different things we are always talking about,” said Massey. “I can say go to page 54 of the manual, there’s this awesome feature story and see what you can pull out of it.”


Workshop Director Eric Thomas
William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop-Camp director

“I had my students write and revise a mission statement every single year; that was one thing I always thought needed to be in there,” said Thomas. “To build legacy and tradition, I would always list the editors and chiefs of the publication going back as far as I could go, it was like a totem pole of who has been there before and what they have accomplished.”


Adviser Kathy Habiger
School-Mill Valley High School
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop-Leading a News Team instructor

“Just over the last five years, they (staff) broke down different jobs….here’s a guide to writing. It’s our staff style and also when you start a story, here’s what to do. When you go to an interview, here’s what to do. It’s going to be more of a checklist situation but it does explain that. The other one I like is the publication run-down, where they talk about each issue or the yearbook. This is how we start, this is the next step, the next step. Here’s how we brainstorm. Here’s the expectations for content.”


Adviser Amy Morgan
School-Shawnee Mission West
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop-Designing Amazing Things instructor

“I think it’s nice to have some etiquette tips on little things like phone calls, how to address an email, how to sign an email, how to speak to people in professions outside of our school so that kids can have that experience in addition to how to talk to kids.”


Adviser Barb Tholen
School-Lawrence High School
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop-Writing and Editing instructor

“I have information about the Kansas Student Publications Act. I have links to the Student Press Law Center. I think it’s really important right off the bat to have your students know what their rights are and what they look like and how do you navigate those. It’s really important that students know their rights and that’s a part of understanding who they are and what you do.”


Adviser Spencer O’Daniel
School-Maize Career Academy
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop-Multimedia Storytelling and Broadcasting

“This year, I’m going to include a more detailed section on checking in and checking out equipment, using new technology and requiring each sophomore on staff to be our equipment manager once for four weeks and rotate that position monthly,” said O’Daniel. This includes letting me know when things break or get damaged along with conversations on what new toys/technology our team needs to do their jobs better.”

Spencer O'Daniel

Spencer is in his ninth year of advising student media at the high school and college level. He currently advises The Bullseye at Maize South while also leading The OneMa1ze Broadcasting program at the Maize Career Academy. He is the leader of the Wichita Area Journalism Educators group and is extremely involved in the Kansas Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Education Association. He enjoys being active and outside, spending time with his toddler and wife Jenna and his students have won over 200 individual awards and team awards including a KSPA state championship, collegiate photographer of the year, All-Kansas publications and Pacemaker winners as well.

Spencer O'Daniel has 9 posts and counting. See all posts by Spencer O'Daniel

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