Recruiting a Colorful Yearbook Staff

Recruiting a Colorful Yearbook Staff

There is no doubt that choosing the right students is the key to a successful yearbook program. A fun way to do this is through categorizing students by their “True Colors,” a  personality typing that has been studied since Hippocrates first proposed the theory that people are intrinsically different. In 1978, based on the work of Hippocrates, Carl Jung, Myers-Briggs and David Keirsey, Don Lowry, the founder of True Colors, developed a fun and easy-to-understand system of personality typing which identifies four basic personality types: Gold, Blue, Green and Orange.

Several Herff Jones reps certified as True Colors trainers and many of you may have been through this process or one similar in class, at workshops or in a convention session.

While the information you learn about yourself and others can provide insight in many cases, it can be especially beneficial in recruiting a new yearbook staff; choosing students based on their true colors is ideal. A good mix of the four True Color personalities will render an efficient, hardworking and fun staff for the next school year. Here is what sets each one apart and what you can look for in potential staffers:


  • Task oriented and is
  • Organized,
  • Detail-oriented
  • Dependable, on-time and accurate

Gold students follow the rules and are great at completing tasks and making deadlines. These are the students who want to know what is expected of them and what the requirements are for the class.


  • People-oriented
  • Optimistic
  • Empathetic
  • Friendly, imaginative and abstract

Blue students prefer an atmosphere of cooperation and do not like conflict. Blue students need to be valued and respected. They are great motivators and enjoy interacting with others. They do their best work when working with others rather than working alone.


  • Idea-oriented
  • Probing
  • Abstract,
  • Curious, logical and conceptual

Green students might question just about everything in their quest for “why” and “how.” They often prefer to work independently and they need to be challenged. They can also be very demanding of themselves because they set their expectations very high.


  • Action-oriented
  • Thrives on freedom and adventure
  • Playful and energetic
  • Non-structured and spontaneous

Orange students love action and they love to have fun. Orange students can be flexible, and are often great trouble-shooters and negotiators. They enjoy competition but may lack focus to complete detailed assignments and will bore easily with paperwork or repetitious tasks.

In your search for new and brilliant staffers, let us know if this system worked (or is working) for you or if you have your own successful way of finding the best of the best to join your team.

And, if you’re totally on board with using the True Colors personality typing technique, you can look forward to a follow-up post on how to teach, lead and nurture those specific students to create a positive work environment for the entire staff.

Read More:

5 Things to Remember When the Yearbook Receives Criticism

5 Things to Remember When the Yearbook Receives Criticism

It’s that time of year when news organizations insist on doing stories on horrible/controversial/silly content in yearbooks. Keep in mind a few things before you judge:

  1. Yearbooks were made by human beings, most of them teenagers. There will be errors.
  2. Just because one parent calls the news station/newspaper with a complaint does not mean the content is controversial or is causing a problem at school. That complainer probably didn’t even contact the school principal or the yearbook adviser first. Going straight to the news media gets you noticed more easily, but doesn’t require hearing a different perspective or explanation from the people who created it.
  3. And speaking of the adviser, that person is also a human being. Despite their best efforts, they can’t catch every error or hidden dirty reference they don’t get because they are not teenagers and they may not recognize every stupid gesture a kid makes in an effort to be “funny.” And trust me, whatever you find to complain about, the adviser will worry about 13,000 times longer than you.
  4. Put yourself in the adviser’s shoes. Everything (and I mean everything) their students create will be made public for everyone to criticize. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be held accountable for errors, but being in that public position is harder than anyone imagines sometimes. A traditional teacher doesn’t have to show individual students’ work to anyone, let alone paying customers.
  5. A yearbook is first and foremost a history book. And history is full of stupid people doing stupid things. Some of those things are bound to end up in a yearbook. Have some perspective.

Stepping off my soapbox now.

Cultivating Young Talent, Design Skills

Cultivating Young Talent, Design Skills

Proponents of digital-only yearbook solutions suggest that an app or website may very well do a better job of documenting the year’s history these days, but I’m convinced that print yearbooks are here to stay.

The timeless, tactile experience offered by ink on paper cannot be undone by a dead battery or weak connection; a bound book need not keep pace with software updates and new hardware.

My grandfather’s 1943 Olio senior yearbook from Amherst College holds a cherished place on our bookshelves in a way that no app in the future ever could.

One way to perpetuate the power of a printed yearbook is to engage students at even younger ages. Once they find passions for telling stories visually and verbally, they’ll be promoting the value of the yearbook to their peers.

In June 2016, Winfield Street Elementary School in Corning, NY, will release its second edition of the 36-page Down Under yearbook, printed at Herff Jones’ plant in Montgomery, Alabama. The Down Under is a collaboration between Winfield students and volunteer mentors from Tesserae, the yearbook at Corning-Painted Post High School. I love their book’s name; the school’s mascot is a kangaroo and one of the first tasks for the inaugural elementary staff was to name the yearbook.

We founded the Down Under with three mentors from Tesserae working with 12 3rd-5th grade students and two teachers at Winfield in 2015. This year’s staff includes 20 elementary students and six mentors from Tesserae.

As we work to complete the high school book, the elementary staff fires up, and the enthusiasm and education couldn’t be more inspirational. Love, love, love to watch them all in action.Cultivating Young Talent, Design Skills

With guidance from Corning-Painted Post High School junior Jake Russell, 4th grader Michael McNaughton practices using the Herff Jones YBook eDesign software. McNaughton is in his second year with Winfield Street Elementary School’s Down Under yearbook staff; Russell is a second-year veteran photographer with Tesserae.


Near the end of the Down Under staff’s work afternoon in C-PPHS’ student media lab, which houses the award-winning Tesserae yearbook, 4th grader Megan Williams checks her inspiration spread against her work in YBook. Williams is in her second year with the Down Under staff, which is mentored by six student volunteers from Tesserae. Karleigh Corliss, a C-PPHS sophomore and one of Down Under’s mentors, said, “It’s exciting to know that I’m a part of something that’s so special like this. I joined because I like working on yearbook, I like working with kids and I like working with my friends, so mentoring the Winfield kids was really a combination of all those things.”


With a few weeks of theme development and photography training behind them, sophomore Elia Warner works with 5th grader Lawson Bigelow (back) and 4th grader Dorothy Piech as they learn how to use YBook on Wednesday, January 27. Warner, who is a first-year member of the Tesserae yearbook staff at C-PPHS, said, “It’s really rewarding to be able to help [the Winfield kids] from start to finish with photography or design and see their excitement and how proud they are about accomplishing and creating new things. Working with Dorothy was fun for me because she was able to quickly learn and apply the new design skills that I helped her with in order to create her practice spread. It was great to receive a high five from her at the end of the day in the lab, and it’s nice to know that the other mentors and I are opening up creative possibilities for the kids, and that I have the opportunity to mentor the writers, designers, photographers and editors of the future.”

Editors — How to Choose the Next One or Be a Contender

Editors — How to Choose the Next One or Be a Contender

It’s second semester and half the workload (if not more) still remains on your staff’s to-do list — monitoring coverage, planning how to capture spring events and sports, preparing for distribution day — one of the most rewarding parts of creating the masterpiece that is your yearbook. But at the same time, current Editors-in-Chief (along with their advisers) have the next possible editors on their radar.

So what are some things to look for in new EICs or to do if you hope to be in that top leadership role? Here are five traits that advisers can look for and hopeful staffers can strive for to attain that often coveted position.

1)   Organization

The ringleader of the yearbook staff needs to be organized in all areas, all year long. Who can handle the structuring of the ladder? Who can allocate photography and spread assignments so that coverage is not only thorough, but also amazing? Whose workspace and minds are clear enough to answer fellow staffers’, parents’ and teachers’ questions?

2)   Dedication

It’s not hard to really get attached to a theme concept when it’s first developed, but the real trick is maintaining that commitment throughout the year, even when things aren’t pretty. Notice who is still giving the book their all, day in and day out.

3)   Ability to Keep Staff Stress and Drama to a Minimum

It’s especially important to choose or be the leader who can effectively rein in the whole staff when deadlines get super stressful. An editor who can maintain composure when things are a little crazy is a very valuable asset to a successful yearbook program.

4)   A Teacher

If your staff currently has an amazing Editor-in-Chief, chances are he or she is an excellent teacher — patient, understanding and willing to pass along knowledge and skills to those on staff who need it. After all, when each new EIC is named, the current leaders pass on their yearbook skillset and advice on leading the team into battle… or at least into deadlines.

5)   Strong Work Ethic

This one should be a no-brainer, but the EIC is the one who will work early mornings, between classes and through lunch to complete a deadline. They are the ones who will encourage other members and heighten morale. They will pick up slack where it’s needed and will do it with a smile because this is their book, and their team and they are 100% in, 100% of the time.

There are all sorts of traits that make up an awesome EIC, but these few can certainly help narrow down your options for choosing your next fearless leader. Or, if you’re a current hopeful staffer, focus on staying the course — amidst deadlines, finals and second semester activities — to prove that you are editor material.

What are some traits you look for in choosing your next Editor-in-Chief?

Ongoing Yearbook Staff Controversy: To Work Over Break or Not?

When I started advising 14 years ago, I was exhausted from the extra work hours that seemed to accompany every deadline. We worked after school. We worked on weekends. We worked during breaks. We worked whenever the kids said, “Please, Faust! We just need a couple more hours!”


Ongoing Yearbook Staff Controversy: To Work Over Break or Not?

As a seasoned, third-year adviser, I vowed we would never work outside of scheduled hours again.

Fast forward 11 years and we ALWAYS work during breaks. But it has nothing to do with deadlines.

Riley, 2015 EIC: “Explain to me how, exactly, we’re supposed to go a full 18 days without seeing each other!”

Faust: “But don’t you want to spend time with your families?”

Riley, 2015 EIC: “Yearbook is the only family that counts!”

So, here’s what happens in room I-219 these days: We work every Wednesday after school; Wednesday Work Nights have been a tradition since 2004. Parents sign up to bring dinner for everyone and we work whether we are on deadline or not. Our staff knows that we don’t stay after on Monday nights to make the upload. That happens Wednesdays or during class.

During breaks, though, is another story. We work on breaks because we HAVE to be together. We bring food, we run to Starbucks, we watch movies, we sing, we act goofy, we rearrange the classroom and sometimes we get some yearbooking done.

It doesn’t matter if the break is one week, two, or all of summer vacation. We find ways to be together. We’ve met at Starbucks, we’ve gone bowling and we’ve even hung out at the bookstore together. But, more often than not, we find ourselves back in I-219, like aliens drawn to their mothership, unable to function without a little yearbook family in our breaks.


Carrie Faust (adviser): To know me is to love me; to love me is to bring me Starbucks. I believe all things can be accomplished with the assistance of a venti, non-fat, no-water, extra-hot chai and a Pandora station set to Joshua Radin. And, “Pitch Perfect.” There must be “Pitch Perfect.”

Riley Waller (EIC): When I’m not curled up in the fetal position on the floor of the yearbook room stressing over deadlines and college acceptance, I can be found at Starbucks buying a venti, non-fat, no-water, extra-hot chai for my adviser and a tall, soy, white mocha for me to consume in the yearbook room during my off period — and every other hour of the day.