Newspaper moderator named single recipient of international award
On May 3, the phone rang in the Patriot room. The class went silent, and newspaper moderator Mark Ionescu was informed that he had been named Journalism Educator of the Year by the Youth Journalism International (YJI) organization.
“Someone from Youth Journalism International called during class and, it was strange, she told me that I should change my business card, as if my business card says ‘guy who didn’t win award.’ Anyway, she said I should consider changing my business card, and then she told me that I won,” Ionescu said.
According to the YJI website, the purpose of the Journalism Educator of the Year award is “to honor a teacher who inspires students and brings out the very best in them.” Ionescu has been a finalist for the past two years, but this is the first time that he was won the award.
To enter an educator in this contest, students are asked to submit letters explaining why their moderator deserves the award. Online Chief senior Grace Kim orchestrated the effort, sending email after email encouraging Patriot staff members to write letters and compiling them all together to send away.
“Grace Kim was apparently quite the ring leader,” Ionescu said.
In case the emails didn’t resonate enough, Kim also lured Ionescu out of the classroom earlier in the year, in order to verbally remind the staff to write something to submit. “I had Mrs. Strawbridge and the people down in the main office call him down and distract him while I told the class about the contest and the details. I asked everyone to write a letter if they could, and nine people other than myself did,” she said.
Ionescu is especially thrilled with the award because of the fact that he was nominated by his students. “I’m really pleased to have won it this year, I feel great about it, mostly because it’s an award that you get nominated for by students as opposed to entering yourself. I feel like that means a lot to me, and I’m really happy that people thought of me that way, but my main goal is just to make sure that everybody each year has fun and learns a lot,” Ionescu said.
On May 2, Kim informed the entire Patriot staff that YJI told her that Ionescu had won and that they were going to call him during class to share the news. “It was exciting and very much unexpected. I certainly was not expecting to either win the award or receive a phone call about it,” Ionescu said.
Ionescu said that his class reacted “creepily, there was a lot of staring” while he was on the phone. “After the phone call, everyone was fantastic. There were cupcakes and brownies and just a lot of very nice people saying nice things,” he said.
After the call, “we then celebrated with gratuitous eating and celebratory dancing,” Kim said.
“The whole staff knows that he deserved to win it, and I’m glad that we could show our appreciation for him through our successful nominations,” Kim said.
“It was very meaningful to me to be nominated by the students that I work with every day, and to be a part of that is a great thing, and I feel really moved by that and happy that I work with such wonderful people,” Ionescu said.
Brianna Glase is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.