Between the seven of them, they have advised more than 160 yearbooks with Herff Jones. They’ve won Pioneers and Gold Keys, Crowns and Pacemakers and local, state and regional awards galore. Herff Jones’ National Yearbook Advisers of the Year share

“My best one piece of advice for a new adviser: “Build a solid relationship with your rep, and begin to network immediately by joining JEA, CSPA and NSPA and going to their workshops and conventions. The job is too big to go it alone and your rep and your adviser friends can help you immensely!”

“Advice I received and found valuable: “It took me no time at all to see this truth: It’s all about relationships. When you make your school and your principal look good, your principal will be good to your program.”

Mary Kay Downes
Chantilly HS, Chantilly, VA
2007 JEA Adviser of the Year


“You have to build the culture of yearbook. Think about what you want and establish guidelines that promote that. And remember the students are really looking to you to see what you expect of them.”

“It’s so important to be open to innovation. You don’t have to do it the way it’s been done before. It’s OK to put some new rings on it.”

Pete LeBlanc
Antelope HS, Antelope, CA
2006 JEA Adviser of the Year

“Always design from inspiration. You can’t just sit down at the computer and starting adding elements to a spread. You need to work to build your visual memory and you should have a file of ideas you like. Then, when it’s time to create, you can match your needs with answers from your idea file and adapt your inspirations into designs that really work for you.”

“You have to have some system to track progress. Whether it’s on the computer, on the editors’ clipboard or on the wall, it needs to be clear to everyone what’s due, who’s done and who could use a little help. We also used our charts to celebrate the completion of each spread.”

Paul Ender
Independence HS, San Jose, CA (retired 2000)
1996 JEA Adviser of the Year

“The best yearbook advice I received was to let the students do the book themselves. If I trained them correctly, my job was to step aside and allow them to grow into their roles on staff. “

“I am always telling new advisers to take advantage of the tools out there to help advisers: from summer workshops, the HJ curriculum books and the local reps to the cool FAQs on, the national conventions featuring incredible sessions and the JEA bookstore which has resources for everyone’s situation, advisers should never feel as if they don’t have a support system.”

Kathy Daly
Smoky Hill HS, Aurora, CO (retired 2006)
1998 JEA Adviser of the Year

“I always tell advisers to recruit Honors freshmen. And I think that’s a key to building a great program. Start them young and allow staffers to grow with the program.”

“The best advice I ever received was to print everything out at 100% and put it on the wall. It DOES look different on screen than it will in your book, and you need to make your final design decisions based on what will actually be printed.”

Dan Austin
Casa Roble HS, Orangevale, CA
2006 JEA Adviser of the Year

“Since most advisers are the only journalism teacher in building, they find little school support. Don’t handle problems and stress alone. Attend regional, state and national conventions. These associations provide networks with those who share your passions and stuggles. Ask questions. There’s always someone who’s been there and has suggestions. Take in a couple of sessions to learn something new. Find out what others are doing and see if it can improve your situation. Judge a competition to discover the trends and skills that students are capable of producing. You’ll find that you gain more confidence as you become more involved.”

“Rome wasn’t built in a day…
Don’t try to change or ‘fix’ too many problems at once, or
you’ll set yourself up for failure. Pick a maximum of three
changes or improvements that you want to make in your
yearbook and work to accomplish these changes. Next year,
pick a maximum three more… your students will accept these
as their own changes and morale stays high. Sending your
publication away for a critique helps you narrow in on what
needs to be improved.”

Nancy Hastings
Munster HS, Munster, IN (retired 2010)
1996 JEA Adviser of the Year

Lynn-Strause“Have fun and BE FLEXIBLE. Yearbook is hard work. If you and your staff don’t make an effort to enjoy it, it won’t be as rewarding.”

“Look and learn. Be a sponge. Make an effort to meet people. Ask a lot of questions. Pay attention to discussions of yearbook topics no matter when/where they take place.”

Lynn Strause
East Lansing HS, East Lansing, MI (retired 2007)
2001 JEA Adviser of the Year