JEA honors Balfour adviser with national award

The Journalism Education Association recognized Leland Mallett, Legacy High School, Mansfield, Texas as a yearbook Special Recognition Adviser in their Yearbook Adviser of the Year program on Monday, January 23.

Leland Mallett began his teaching career in Big Spring, Texas, a small rural community in west Texas. There his publications won three state awards. After seven years, however, he was offered a position at a new school in Mansfield, Texas that he couldn’t refuse.

Even though he only had four girls in yearbook and six students in newspaper (none with experience), “they had heart and an incredible work ethic,” Leland said. The fresh start paid off, when the second volume of the Legacy yearbook won a CSPA Crown and was a NSPA Pacemaker finalist. “It was the first national award for me and for Legacy,” he said.

According to Leland, whether students are scheduled for yearbook, photo, newspaper or Journalism I, they are contributors. “It doesn’t matter what their schedules read, they are all storytellers. That’s still our motto today.”

After only four years, the program grew to more than 85 students in newspaper, yearbook and photo. Then broadcasting was added to the curriculum. Ultimately, the program needed a second teacher. In 2010, Rachel Dearinger joined the team as the broadcast and Photo I teacher and the co-adviser of the yearbook.

Leland Mallett has been recognized as a teacher and adviser, winning state and national awards: Legacy HS–Teacher of the Year (2010); ILPC–Edith Fox King Award (2012); Texas PTA—finalist for Teacher of the Year (2013); Texas Association of Journalism Educators–Trailblazer Award (2013); Dow Jones News Fund–(2015); Max Haddick UIL–Texas Adviser of the Year (2015); Journalism Education Association—Yearbook Special Recognition Adviser (2016).

In addition to advising the print and online publications at Legacy, Leland shares his expertise by teaching at workshops, seminars and conventions from Orlando, Florida to Sacramento, California. To reach an even larger audience, he has written articles on scholastic journalism and journalism education for Balfour in Elements magazine and on JEA’s digital media site.

Since winning national recognition in their second year, Legacy’s yearbook, newspaper, and its students have accumulated accolades: Silver and Gold Stars from ILPC (Texas), Gold Medalists, Gold Circles, Silver and Gold Crowns from Columbia Scholastic Press Association; All-Americans, Pacemaker finalists, Pacemakers and Best in Shows from the National Scholastic Press Association.

The awards and recognition aside, the students are most important to Leland and he is important to them. Just ask them.

“It’s really awesome that he’s here to teach us what he know,” yearbook staffer Ashton Williams said. “I appreciate how open he is with us as a mentor and a friend. He’s awesome. He’s definitely my favorite teacher. I wish more of my teachers were like him.”

His No. 1 priority, however, is his family: his wife Harmony and his children Ryland (9th grade), Raylee (5th grade), Reese (4th grade) and Riker & Remus (cats). To create an amalgam of home and school, Ryland joined the yearbook staff as a photographer. Follow Leland on Facebook and discover his weekend, summer and vacation adventures with his family.

Leland is always soft spoken but always heard because of his impeccable character, and his professional and personal integrity. Congratulations, Leland, for this well-deserved recognition as a JEA yearbook Special Recognition Adviser.