By Brenda L. Holmes
Wayne Township student journalists are in good hands under the leadership of Dr. Jeff Butts, superintendent of schools. Butts was recently honored as the Administrator of the Year by the Indiana High School Press Association.
Butts was nominated for the award by Tom Hayes, the Ben Davis High School newspaper advisor, and Jon Easter, who oversees the campus radio station.
“For his entire time here at Ben Davis, Dr. Butts has been extremely supportive of the newspaper and yearbook,” Hayes said. “Even when he was the assistant superintendent I felt he was very supportive.”
Hayes said any time his student writers need access to the administration, there is no problem getting an interview.
“He will always do an interview and to make sure to talk to the class as a whole,” he said. “He enjoys meeting students and talking to them and he’s very open and honest.”
Easter said Butts places the students in a leadership role. One example is a new broadcast segment students are currently working on.
“He came to the students and said he would like to do a monthly show from the superintendent’s office,” Easter said. “He asked the students to come up with a plan. He has trusted our students to plan his show.”
Butts said he was surprised when he found out about the award.
“I was shocked and very humbled,” he said. “I accepted the award, but did so with the understanding that it’s the kids and staff that deserve it.”
He said his philosophy on student journalism is to give the instruction they need and allow them to make their own decisions.
“We do have a good history in journalism in Wayne,” Butts said. “It goes back to 1962 when we created the radio station. We’ve had media outlets for our children to be involved with for many years. It’s all about teaching them what it means to be responsible journalists.”
Butts said he’s very proud of what the student reporters have been doing in print, on the radio, and on their broadcasts.
“They’ve done stories on suicide, drug use, dating and relationships,” he said. “Some of these are very difficult topics. We don’t censor what our kids do.”
The IHSPA started recognizing administrators who support student expression and scholastic journalism in 1988. This year there were two administrators honored — Butts and Dr. Patricia Flowers, principal at Connersville High School.
The IHSPA was started by two Franklin College students in 1922. It offers support for high school newspaper, yearbook, and broadcast staffs in the form of conventions, regional workshops, competitions, and resources.