Shawnee Mission West journalism teacher to be recognized with Pioneer Award

Amy Morgan will receive a 2019 Pioneer Award from the National Scholastic Press Association at the fall National High School Journalism Convention in Washington, D.C., this month.

Amy Morgan knew she wanted her career to involve journalism ever since she was the editor of Shawnee Mission North’s student newspaper. Now, the Shawnee Mission West journalism teacher is being recognized for her work inside and outside of the classroom with a 2019 Pioneer Award.

The Nations Scholastic Press Association will honor Amy Morgan with a 2019 Pioneer Award — NSPA’s highest honor for journalism educators — at the Journalism Educators Association/NSPA Fall National High School Convention in Washington, D.C., this November. To receive the award, journalism educators must be nominated by a former Pioneer winner and substantially contribute to journalism programs outside of their primary teaching responsibilities.

“Looking at the list of people who have won it in the past, it’s incredibly humbling to be even considered in their company,” Morgan said.

Morgan decided to combine her passion for journalism with teaching after landing a summer job teaching fifth through eighth graders newspaper as a college student. At West, Morgan teaches journalism and advises the student newspaper and yearbook, The Epic.

Outside of her duties at West, Morgan has served on the executive boards for both the Kansas Scholastic Press Association and the Journalism Educators of Metropolitan Kansas City. Additionally, she was the local committee co-chair for the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention in 2010.

Kathy Habiger, journalism teacher at USD 232’s Mill Valley High School and former Pioneer honoree, nominated Morgan for the Pioneer Award partially because of her work organizing the 2010 National High School Journalism Convention. Habiger, who was Morgan’s co-chair for the convention, said the award is a way to bring Morgan’s hard work for the young journalists of Kansas to the spotlight.

“[Morgan] prefers to be behind the scenes, working so hard at whatever she does,so she doesn’t get a lot of recognition like that,” Habiger said. “She’s not a person that seeks out that attention, and I think this award can kind of bring her up to the front a little bit, where she belongs.”

As Shawnee Mission alum, teacher and parent, Morgan said she is invested in the district. She said she hopes to be remembered at West as a positive force, who was involved in activities and clubs outside of journalism. Instilling necessary life skills into her students is just one of the reasons she enjoys teaching, the other is witnessing student reactions to producing content for their peers.

“It’s just really cool, from when they get to see that first newspaper or when they get to hold the yearbook in their hands,” Morgan said. “They get to actually see what they did instead of just talking about something.”