Park School Recognizes Outstanding High School Media Advisors
Four of the nation’s leading high school media advisors and teachers were recently honored by the Park School of Communications with the first ever S’Park Media Mentor Award.
Lori Oglesbee of McKinney High School in Texas, Clifton Raphael of Jenks High School in Oklahoma, Dharini Rasiah of Berkley High School in California and Mike Zito of Staples High School in Connecticut were the first ever recipients of the award.
The S’Park Media Mentor Award was the brainchild of Diane Gayeski, dean of the Park School of Communications and Matt Fee, director of the Park Scholar Program at Ithaca College.
“The award was designed to recognize outstanding high school teachers and advisors committed to inspiring passion for media in their students,” Fee said.
“Personally and professionally the S'Park Media Mentor Award has been one of the highlights of my life,” said Rasiah, a filmmaker, media activist and high school teacher who also serves as the faculty advisor for the BHS Jacket newspaper. “K-12 educators are rarely recognized for our work and it was a tremendous honor to be selected along with three other outstanding colleagues.”
The honorees spent Oct. 24th and 25th at Ithaca where they met with several professors, student media advisors and Park Scholar alums, attended a live broadcast of Newswatch 16, Ithaca College Television’s award-winning news program, took a tour of the Park School and sat in on classes. On Monday night they were honored with a dinner where they were presented with their awards.
“I was enormously impressed with everyone I met at the Park School, from the dean to the professors to the students,” said Raphael, a film and television teacher at Jenks High School who has won a regional Emmy Award for best newscast. Raphael, who spent 24 years in broadcast television prior to launching the Film and Television at Jenks, was especially impressed with Newswatch 16’s broadcast. “What I witnessed is a testament not just to the students, but to the professors and all the Park School staff who have guided these students throughout their careers.”
Zito shared Raphael’s sentiment. “There was a palpable feeling of pride in the program and what it was accomplishing,” said Zito, a Radio Production, TV Production and Narrative Film teacher and radio station and TV advisor at Staples High School.
“The Park School is doing a unique and wonderful job of giving talented and creative students the opportunity for a hands-on education that will train them beautifully for their futures in media."
One of the main purposes of the award was to establish a bridge between high school media specialists and Ithaca’s professors and media advisors, allowing them to share their perspectives and strategies.
“It was a chance for high school teachers and advisors to connect in a more direct way with the work being done in college, so that they could bring that back to their high school students,” Fee said. “It also allowed professors to have a greater sense of what’s going on in high schools.”
“The S’Park Media Mentor Awards really made me reflect on the mentors in my life, and how their influence has led me to the success I’ve enjoyed today,” said Mykal Urbina, a senior Park Scholar and Integrated Marketing Communications major. “I think that Park is once again demonstrating its progressive role in honoring leaders in high school media education.”
As Lori Oglesbee, yearbook and newspaper advisor at McKinney High School in McKinney, Texas noted: “Autumn colors weren't the only thing ablaze in Ithaca. I found a hotbed of journalistic endeavors at the Park School. I've never seen better resources and equipment available to students. I see a college that invests in its students, its professors and its community. I'm impressed.”