The Minnesota High School Press Association has presented its 2011 Journalism Educator of the Year honor to Ryan McCallum of Buffalo High School and adviser to the Tatanka yearbook, Hoofprint newspaper and hoofprint.net website. McCallum was recognized during a newspaper staff meeting at the school on May 11, 2011. McCallum teaches English language arts and is the technology integration specialist at the school.
Selection criteria for the award include teaching/advising preparation, experience and ability; relationships with students and others; contributions to the profession; promoting appreciation for journalism and as a career; and support for the First Amendment.
McCallum’s experience in scholastic journalism began in 1994 as a student journalist at Buffalo High School, and continued at Concordia College in Moorhead, where he graduated in 2001. He has been teaching at Buffalo High School since 2001 and began advising the yearbook in 2002, the newspaper in 2003 and the website in 2004.
McCallum’s accomplishments at Buffalo High School include restarting the Hoofprint newspaper, which had been dormant for three years. In 2003, just 24 students were enrolled in journalism classes. In 2010, 270 students took journalism. The student publications have earned top state honors, and the website was named a national Pacemaker Award winner this spring, one of 18 websites to receive the honor.
McCallum’s students nominated him for the award. In their letters of support, they praised his teaching skills as well as his ability to relate to students and help them grow as young adults. Michael LaCroix, yearbook editor in chief, wrote that McCallum creates a classroom environment that feeds on curiosity, ingenuity and creative risk-taking. “He places more weight on creating something new than doing something old perfectly.”
Valerie Ostvig, the newspaper’s co-editor in chief, wrote, “He has achieved [success] by challenging us to be original and inform the student body with the most prudent of topics. He advises us in a way that encourages creativity, responsibility and has produced results.”