Category Archives: Archives

Sinclair honored as IJEA administrator of the year

By Trenton Bitting

Mattoon High School’s Principal Michele Sinclair has been given the Illinois Journalism Education Association’s Administrator of the Year Award.

“It’s about being open-minded to what the students have to say,” Sinclair said. “You have to trust the sponsor and students.”

The standards to achieve this award, as stated by the IJEA nomination form, are to support advisers and journalism teachers; support opportunities for interaction with student staff; cultivate and maintain positive working relations with student staff, advisers and teachers; foster and awareness of educational and career opportunities in journalism; and to recognize outstanding performance in scholastic media.

In reaction to the award, Sinclair said this was novel for her.

“I’ve never received an award like this as an administrator,” Sinclair said. “It’s a personal accomplishment to receive an award like this.”

In an age when many journalism programs are shutting down, Sinclair has consistently supported the journalists at MHS. She will be honored at an IJEA luncheon on June 7 at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield.

“I am humbled about it because it feels like I’m just doing my job,” Sinclair said.

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Students, staff talk respect at MHS

By Kinsey Stapleton

Although Mattoon High School is always working toward improving its environment, a recent respect survey conducted by the MHS administration gives Assistant Principal Michael Shaffer hope for the future in the way students and faculty treat each other.

Every five years, The North Central Accreditation (NCA) administers the respect survey to MHS students as part of the accreditation approval process. This survey idea is what prompted Shaffer and other administrators to take a closer look at the respect issues in MHS and also to create a similar survey for faculty members.

“[The survey’s] results may seem like little things, but they speak volumes for our school,” said Shaffer.

Surprisingly to Shaffer, the results between the student survey and the faculty survey, both agreed on the biggest causes of disrespect in MHS. Students and faculty observed disrespect from teacher to teacher and also student to teacher. After taking an even closer look at the results, Shaffer noticed many of the surveys pushed for a change in how administrators deal with disrespect and disciplinary issues.

“Students and faculty wanted the administration to focus less on issues of MHS as a whole and more on dealing with problems with an individualistic approach,” Shaffer said.

Representing the ideas Shaffer discovered in the survey’s results is MHS sophomore Brockton Williams. After taking the survey, Williams believes the respect issues in MHS won’t be solved until faculty begins handling issues fairly and punishing students equally.

“It all has to do with the rules and how our school handles them,” said Williams. “Respect would improve if all rules were enforced by teachers rather than enforcing one over the other.”

Agreeing with Williams is Spanish teacher Amber Behrends, who is a member of the MHS discipline committee. After seeing teachers and administrators work together, Behrends too feels cooperation and dedication from teachers is key.

“It’s important for teachers and administrators to be on the same page, and I feel we [teachers] are doing a good job of improving that,” said Behrends. “But students also need to understand there is a difference in how you must act in this building.”

Amongst students who have seen the most change in MHS are seniors, including Whitney Smith who believes there will always be issues with respect between students and teachers.

“Even after all the rule changes, I don’t think a lot has changed with how we treat each other—but it doesn’t mean people can’t stop disrespect,” said Smith. “I still see people doing small gestures in the halls, like picking up someone’s dropped book, that show me we do have some respect for others.”

According to Smith, respect is a difficult problem to deal with because of how different students behave. However, Smith also feels it isn’t impossible to change.

“What it comes down to is students need to make up their own mind about respect,” Smith said. “It’s comes down to ourselves.”

Despite how complex the issue of respect is for administrators, Shaffer believes MHS is making tremendous progress in improving its educational environment.

“We [administrators] learn the same as students, and we’re continuing to grow along side with our students,” said Shaffer.

Shaffer feels the next goal of MHS couldn’t have been possible without the respect survey and the results have given the administration new insight to students and faculty.

“We’re a school that’s striving to be a culture of learners,” said Shaffer. “I can honestly say I’m proud of this school.”

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