J.D. Garber wins Jackie Engel Award

J.D. Garber, left, receives the Jackie Engel Award from Mike Swan, right, award coordinator from Butler County Community College.

A journalism adviser at Salina Central High School — after receiving numerous nomination letters of support from students, parents and others — has won a top journalism teaching award for 2018.

J.D. Garber is this year’s recipient of the Jackie Engel Award, sponsored by Kansas Collegiate Media (KCM) and named in honor of a former journalism teacher at McPherson High School. Engel helped bring national recognition to Kansas high school journalism and was the first recipient of the award in 1990. She died in 2005, but her legacy of excellence lives on in this award.

The award was created to honor the best high school journalism teacher in Kansas. Garber received a plaque and cash award at the KCM Awards Conference in Wichita April 9. He will also be honored later at the Kansas Scholastic Press Association state conference May 5 in Lawrence.

Garber has guided journalism students at the school for the last nine years, after helping to revive the newspaper. The publications there have won many state and national awards. He now guides a news magazine, The Pylon.

In the nomination materials, one former student wrote that rigorous deadlines were daunting during their first class with Garber. But the journalism room became a refuge and the teacher was inspiring, according to the graduate.

Garber helped grow the program to one that was large enough to employ a second adviser – a former student. She writes that journalism is now “the thing to do” at Salina Central.

The parent of a current student wrote that Garber brings together students from all over the school – athletes, actors, musicians and more.

The 2015 winner of the Engel Award, Emily Smith of Pittsburg High School, also praised Garber.

“He has been an excellent resource, mentor and support system,” she wrote.

Yet another student supported his nomination, pointing out that his job in the video department for Kansas State Athletics would not have been possible without his help along the way.

Garber is a backer of First Amendment rights for his students, and nominations also came from people who knew Engel personally. They both said Garber exemplified her ideals.

Garber, a Sabetha native, graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education – English/Journalism and also earned a master’s in education from Emporia State University.

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The Sabetha Herald has been serving Sabetha since 1876.

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