Smoky Hill High School English teacher and yearbook adviser Carrie Faust is one of five educators nationwide to be recognized as a National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) Pioneer recipient. The Pioneer is the highest honor NSPA awards to journalism educators. Pioneers are individuals who make substantial contributions to high school journalism programs and scholastic journalism education outside their primary employment.
In Faust’s 15 years at Smoky Hill, eight volumes of the SHHS Summit yearbook have been nationally honored with National Scholastic Press Association Pacemakers and Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crowns 14 times, and twice as NSPA First Place Best of Show. Additionally, the Colorado Student Media Association inducted the Summit yearbook into the All-Colorado Hall of Fame in 2017.
Under her advisement, Smoky Hill High School has been recognized with the First Amendment Press Freedom Award three times. In 2008, Faust was recognized as a Journalism Education Association Rising Star, and in 2009 was named a JEA Distinguished Adviser. In 2011, Faust was named the Colorado Student Media Teacher of the Year and she received a JEA Medal of Merit in 2013. Most recently, Faust was awarded a Gold Key by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in 2017.
In his nomination letter, fellow educator and previous Pioneer recipient Pete LeBlanc said, “As a teacher, Carrie has excelled in several facets of the profession, but four key areas stand out: building a prolific resume of professional service, advocating for student press rights, creating an environment of 100 percent student engagement and leading her staff in creating some of the top yearbooks in the country. While these attributes are found in several top yearbook advisers throughout the country, rare is the individual who possesses all four and more. That’s what makes Carrie so special.”
Faust says her students come from all walks of life. They range from International Baccalaureate scholars to students with severe special needs, from high socio-economic standing to free and reduced lunch eligibility; every race and culture in her minority-majority school is represented. All of these different voices come together to showcase the beauty that is Smoky Hill High School and Faust considers herself blessed to be part of that magic.
“It’s a wonder to watch a kaleidoscope of humanity come together to tell the important stories of their generation. No one can report on who the American high school student is, better than the American high school student. The stories they live are heroic and they trust my kids with those stories. The fact that I get to instill a love of storytelling and respect for the voices of our school in these kids is an honor,” Faust said. “I can’t imagine a better way to spend my days.”
“Carrie creates an environment of varied educational opportunities for her students,” LeBlanc added. “And, oh, by the way, it’s not all fun and games in Room I-219 at Smoky Hill High School. Pacemaker: check. Gold Crown: check. Creating a fun learning environment where quality is not sacrificed is a prominent accomplishment that only the best of the best advisers across the country can claim.”
Faust and the other Pioneer recipients will be recognized at the Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association Advisers Awards Luncheon in November at Chicago Hyatt Regency.