Field receives Pioneer Award for educational achievements


Matthew Risinger

PASSIONATE PROFESSOR: Smiling at one of her classes, Yearbook Advisor Brenda Field goes over the deadlines with her students. Field was honored for her journalistic achievements in and out of the classroom with the NSPA Pioneer Award.

Chaerim Park, staff reporter

Yearbook Advisor Brenda Field received the 2017 Pioneer Award from the National Scholastic Press Association, or NSPA, on Sept. 11.

The Pioneer Award is the highest honor journalism educators can receive from the NSPA, according to According to Field, she was nominated by a past colleague and later received an email notifying her on the award.

“[The executive director] asked me to do a little write up for their press release [in an email] and that’s how I found out,” Field said. “It was announced publicly about a week later. I was thrilled and honored and humbled by the award.”

According to Field, she believes that her efforts to pass the law in Illinois against Hazelwood laws — laws that prevent student journalists from exercising their first amendment rights — might have contributed to the award.

“[Hazelwood] unfortunately prevented student journalists from being able to always write about the things that really mattered to them,” Field said. “We were able to convince the Illinois legislature and eventually the governor that students needed to have the ability to write what matters to them.”

Sabrina Moheydeen, yearbook co-editor in chief, thinks that Field deserves the award because of her ability to help and give advice.

“Most of yearbook is self-run by the students, but she’s always there to help us out and give us advice because obviously she’s more experienced than we are,” Moheydeen said.

Photo Editor Corey Henry has also noticed Field’s efforts to unify and encourage the yearbook staffers by pushing the editors and staff to support each other’s work.

“She’s taking steps to make sure that the staff is really unified and every part is really integrated with one another,” Henry said. “We started [sending] emails of what we can do in our jobs to help the staffers and everybody else.”

Field hopes that this year’s yearbook staff is able to accomplish their goals.

“[The staff] have a lot of ideas of what they want to create and they are really excited about it and I’m excited about it,” Field said. “Part of the joy of advising is watching your students set goals and then surpass them.”

Henry agrees that Field helps individual staff members to attain their goals. In Henry’s case, she started as a writer, but later discovered a passion for journalistic photography through the support of Field.

“Field really encouraged me to continue shadowing because she knew I didn’t like writing, but she really saw I had a passion for photography,” Henry said. “[She] really shaped my future. I want to be a photojournalist [and that’s what I want to do in college], so I really have her to thank for that.”

Field mentions her passion for advising and constantly learning in order to encourage her students to create a meaningful product.

“I love advising because I’m constantly learning,” Field said. “Because the technology is constantly changing, the stories that need to be told are different. Year to year, it’s never the same. I enjoy the process of creating something with the staff that’s meaningful, has an audience, and which I’m always learning from.”