JEA names Thomas a 2021 Rising Star

Candice Thomas_Rising Star Award-2

Congratulations to Haskett Junior High School’s Candice Thomas for being named a 2021 Rising Star. The Journalism Education Association recently named six teachers as Rising Star recipients, recognizing their commitment and contribution to scholastic journalism.

“Winning the Rising Star means so much to me especially during the time in which I won the award,” Thomas said. “Last year, teaching with the pandemic in full swing, was a triumph for all advisers, but it was especially a difficult year for me, as I was admitted to the hospital the week of our final deadline. Knowing that my students could handle getting it done even with my physical absence meant that I had prepared them to function as a team. That was a win.”

Thomas, who began her career as a science teacher, fell in love with journalism. After advising the yearbook at Katy Junior High School for four years and winning a Pacemaker for the 2020 Tiger Tracks, she moved to Haskett Junior High this year to build the inaugural journalism program.

“The connection Candice has with her staff is unprecedented,” Balfour representative Kathleen West said. “She sees all of their strengths and helps each to find the spot that is just perfect in order to let them lead, be creative, and be proud of the yearbook they produce.”

West and advisers in the Balfour community have helped Thomas feel supported and encouraged throughout her years as an adviser. The Rising Star award recognizes her role as a successful adviser, who has made a significant impact on her students and the school community.

“When collecting the letters of recommendation for this award, reading over them brought tears to my eyes,” Thomas said. “I often do things to help people and to ensure others' success, and I don't think about the long-term impact that I am making. Reading over my student letters really left an impression on me, reading that I have had a long-term effect on them well into high school, was honestly the real award.”

In her recommendation letter, former editor Ava Hallman spoke about Thomas’ passion for journalism and the influence on her own life.

“Mrs. Thomas is one of the very few constants I have in my life, and I do not believe I would be the person I am if wasn’t for her class,” Hallman said. “Her ability to make such tedious work enjoyable brought out some of her students’ best work. I would choose to spend more and more time in her classroom throughout my seventh and eighth grade years just to be surrounded by a community she had created.”

The Rising Star is an annual award presented to journalism teachers in their first five years of advising. All six recipients will be honored at the at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention.

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