Tracey Yates-Thompson named Adviser of the Year
Tracey Yates-Thompson, journalism teacher at Buffalo Island Central High School, has proudly sat and applauded as her students have been recognized at the annual Arkansas Scholastic Press Association (ASPA) over the years. Just this year alone, they brought home numerous awards including four honor able mentions, four excellent, and two superior awards for the school newspaper and nine excellent and four honorable mentions for their yearbook. Her yearbook editor, Jillian Key, won yearbook Editor of the Year and Katie Bibb was recognized as second runner-up Photojournalist of the Year.
This year Yates-Thompson joined her students in the award recognition as she was named the 2013 Adviser of the Year. She knew her students had nominated her but was completely surprised to take the honor.
"I have only taught 12 years and I didn't think it would be long enough to win," she said. "Having my students nominate me made the award even more special."
She received the award at the annual banquet at the state convention held in Rogers on April 18.
Her students know the amount of time and energy she puts into the program. One of her students is also her son, Greydon Williams, and he knows firsthand that she goes above and beyond.
In one of the nomination letters, her students pointed out that Ms. Yates has a photography business of her own and uses her equipment to take school pictures including Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, sports, homecoming, etc., and all of the money goes to the journalism program for equipment and enrichment opportunities.
"This helps us attend the ASPA yearly," the student submitted.
Yates-Thompson has a newspaper background as she worked for the Town Crier Newspaper before going back into the education field.
"I did enjoy working for the newspaper," she said. "The time I spent at the Town Crier helped me to teach my students how to prepare to do more than one job. There is writing, photography, sales, layout and design."
Yates-Thompson said the journalism staff works hard. The publications are done by the students.
"I am here to advise; I don't write their stories," she said. "There is no value for them if I do the work."
She is especially proud of the fact that several of her former students have gone into journalism or have worked on publications staffs in college.
"I took journalism my senior year I high school because by two best friends were in the class," she said. "Ever since then I have been involved in journalism or photography. My first year of college I was majoring in journalism and then changed to education and now getting the best of both."
She said her first year as an adviser they were shooting with film and spent about $1,000 just on film. During her second year they went with the digital cameras and have continued to upgrade.
"For a small school we do a great job," she said. "People don't realize how many scholastic journalism powerhouses there are in the state. Our school competes well with the larger schools. For the resources we have, we do a good job in the newspaper and the yearbook. It takes a lot of work to do a journalistic yearbook. Most of the larger schools just do a high school yearbook. We do pre-k through high school and we are on different campuses. We do the job with a small staff. The yearbook sales would probably be the same if we just posted the photographs but we want emotion filled pictures. We strive to try to get every student in the yearbook at least three times but it is not easy with four campuses and four kids. The staff works hard. It meant a lot to me to have my students take time out of their busy schedules to nominate me, and my involvement with ASPA over the years made recognition by them suc an honor. We are fortunate in our state to have an organization like ASPA."
In addition to journalism, Yates-Thompson teaches English, Speech, and Drama.