- School District 49
Award-Winning Style Inspires Student Storytellers
A Vista Ridge High School teacher leads the pack by inspiring students to develop a passion for journalism. Andrea Adams, photography and yearbook teacher, was named the 2022 Colorado Student Media Association Adviser of the Year.
“Ms. Adams is truly one of the most life-changing teachers I’ve ever had. She helped me fall in love with journalism and photography, and learn how to be a leader for others,” said Xiao Jonas, student yearbook editor.
Winning the award started with a nomination from another student editor, and school leadership followed up with a letter of recommendation on Adams’s behalf. Adams was then asked to share sample pages with the selection committee from one of the school’s Ridgeline yearbooks.
Adams’s love for storytelling goes way back. In college, she couldn’t decide between a career as an English teacher or one as a journalist. Serving as a yearbook and photography teacher allows her to combine both interests. Adams has led the yearbook program at VRHS for six years and has 11 years of experience in the field, including assignments at two other regional schools.
Ask the seasoned adviser about her program or students, and she lights up.
“I love yearbook. It’s like organized chaos,” Adams shared. “Each student’s work is a tiny piece to the puzzle that comes together at the end of the year, and each group of students is as unique as the book they create.”
Her award-winning instructional style encourages students to actively listen to find stories everywhere at school. “A few years back, we honed in on individual students with our storytelling,” she explained. “We told the story of a student who won multiple medals in the Special Olympics, and we shared a feature about a student who relocated to Vista Ridge High School from Parkland after their mass shooting. In the end, stories like these helped create our most powerful yearbook yet.”
Staff at Vista Ridge praise Adams for her commitment to student journalism.
“Andi leads students and provides them with a voice in capturing the culture and events at Vista Ridge High School,” said Becki Sims, interim principal at the school. “Because of Andi, our students feel valued and engaged in their own community.”
Students in yearbook class take the course for an entire school year, and the aspiring journalists must apply for a spot in the class. “I always tell students, ‘Are you looking for a class credit, or are you looking for a whole experience?’ Yearbook is a lot of work, but so rewarding.”
Adams will accept her award on Sept. 15 at Colorado State University.
AUGUST STORY THEME: Excellence
In the month of August, our goal is to feature stories that show how D49 improves district performance and validates all aspects of our operations against established criteria for organizational excellence.