BIOGRAPHIES OF OUR INSTRUCTORS

INSTRUCTORS

Chris Bacon, The Latest in Video Storytelling

Chris Bacon is the executive producer of KUJH-TV at the University of Kansas. He has spent over 10 years in the communications field as a television journalist and PR professional. His research interests include sports media and broadcast journalism education. This year, Chris initiated a Sports Media program at KU for students interested in how to get jobs in sports journalism. Chris received his bachelor’s degree from Murray State University and his master’s degree from the University of Illinois.

Cary Conover, Photojournalism with Impact

In a former life, Cary Conover was an avid freestyle bicycler (in fact, for a few months in 1988 he was the third-ranked rider in the country in his age group). This passion inadvertently led him to a photography class his freshman year of high school, which led to photojournalism and publications, which led him to shoot for the legendary Royal Purple yearbook at K-State, which led him to a small black and white community newspaper in Michigan, which led him to a decade of freelance photography in New York City. A wife, newborn son and the need for a stable income, however, spurred him to take a part-time job teaching photography back at Andover High School in 2011. Cary hasn’t looked back since and now helms Andover’s program—journalism, photography, yearbook, newspaper and broadcast.

Kathy Habiger, Rethinking Your News Publication

Kathy Habiger will start her 21th year of teaching in the fall, advising the yearbook, newspaper and website at Mill Valley High School, where her students have consistently won local, state and national awards for their work. In the 2015-2016 school year alone, Habiger’s staff have been named Online Pacemaker finalists, Newspaper Pacemakers and her student earned Kansas Student Journalist of the Year. She is also president of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association. In 2010, Habiger earned the Jackie Engel Award for excellence in journalism education from KSPA.

Jim McCrossen, Staff Leadership

Widely known as the nicest guy in journalism education, McCrossen has been teaching at Blue Valley Northwest for 24 years. McCrossen was born with a camera in his hand, but he’s old so the camera used something called film. Before teaching, McCrossen was a professional photojournalist for a daily newspaper in Southern California for five years after graduating from the University of Kansas school of journalism. The BVNW student newspaper, The Express, was named a 2015 Newspaper Pacemaker Finalist. He just finished a lifetime as president of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association. In 2013, McCrossen earned the Jackie Engel Award for excellence in journalism education from KSPA. And this year he earned the Pioneer Award for making journalism education great for so many students at his school and at workshops.

Amy Morgan, Publication Design with Punch

Amy Morgan advises online, newspaper, yearbook and convergent journalism at Shawnee Mission West. The newspaper, yearbook and interactive yearbook at Shawnee Mission West have earned multiple Pacemaker and Pacemaker finalist awards from NSPA. The In 2011, Morgan earned the Jackie Engel Award for excellence in journalism education from KSPA.

Megan Palmer, The Best in Yearbook Design

Megan Palmer is finishing her eighth year advising publications at Park Hill South in Park Hill, Missouri where the newspaper, yearbook and website have both consistently been ranked All-Missouri. She was named the 2013 Missouri State Journalism Teacher of the Year and presents at conventions and workshops on the local, state and national level. 

Susan Massy, Conceptualizing Your Yearbook

Susan Massy has built an empire of student publications at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School with the school’s yearbook, news magazine and online publications. In 1999, Massy was named the National Yearbook Teacher of the Year by the Journalism Education Association. We tried to count the Pacemakers that her staff has earned, but there were too many. Massy travels nationally to teach and present as summer workshops and conventions. 

Barb Tholen, Writing with Depth

For 10 years, Barbara Tholen was a newspaper reporter, and she’s loves to share her experiences from her writing days with her students. These days, she’s exactly where she wants to be: advising newspaper, yearbook and online publications at Lawrence High School. This year, Tholen earned the Rising Star Award from JEA after earning the 2013 Sunflower Award from KSPA. 

Emily Smith, QUICK-FIRE JOURNALISM

Emily Smith’s students made international (yes, international) news this spring when they broke a story that un-masked their newly hired principal as having faked her education. Her staffs have done lots of other hard-hitting reporting during Smith’s time at Pittsburg High School. That has earned them a 2015 Pacemaker for the Booster Redux newspaper along with NSPA awards for writing, photography and more. Smith was named a 2016 JEA Rising Star for her excellence in teaching so early in her career.

Alex McNamee, MOVING FORWARD ONLINE & ONLINE JUMPSTART

Alex McNamee brings all of the expertise of being School Newspapers Online’s Education and Training Specialist to our workshop. He’s a former sports reporter from Eastern Illinois University, so he knows both SNO and how to create great journalism too. Following up on the first year of JMW’s partnership with School Newspapers Online, Alex will help make another great workshop week for those in Moving Forward Online & Online Jumpstart.

STAFF

Eric Thomas, workshop director

Eric Thomas is wrapping up his second academic year at the University of Kansas. While working at KU, he wears three hats: 1) he teaches in the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication; 2) he is the executive director of the Kansas Scholastic Press Association; 3) he is the director of this workshop during the summer. Thomas began in journalism at a camp like this one after taking a high school photography class. So, he went to college to be a photojournalist and stuck with it for a few years. Immediately before coming to KU, Thomas taught the students of St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City for 13 years, where the girls won Pacemakers and All-Missouri awards.

Kerry Navinskey, Assistant Workshop Director

Kerry Navinskey has been with the KU School of Journalism for almost four years. This will be her fourth year assisting with this workshop. Navinskey lives near Atchison, KS and commutes to Lawrence each day (80 miles round-trip). While Navinskey is a diehard Jayhawk fan, she received her B.A. in Communication Arts with an emphasis in Public Relations from Washburn University.

Brad Lewis, Student Activities Supervisor

Brad Lewis is in his eighth year as an adviser and journalism teacher. Lewis is the publications adviser at St. Teresa’s Academy in Kansas City, MO and advises three Pacemaker winning publications including The Dart newspaper, DartNewsOnline, and the Teresian yearbook. In 2015, the Dart newspaper was named an NSPA finalist for the Pacemaker award.

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