Erinn Harris Named Recipient of JEA-NSPA Pioneer Award

News Release
November 16, 2020

Erinn Harris, who teaches and advises broadcast journalism, journalism, and photojournalism at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), has been named a recipient of the Journalism Education Association-National Scholastic Press Association’s (JEA-NSPA) Pioneer Award.

The Pioneer Award is the highest honor NSPA awards to journalism educators. Pioneers are individuals who make substantial contributions to high-school journalism programs and scholastic journalism education outside their primary employment.

Harris began her advising career at the recently renamed John R. Lewis High School in 2005, working with students on the school’s yearbook, The Shield. After three years working with The Shield yearbook staff, Harris began teaching and advising at TJHSST, beginning in 2009 with the Techniques yearbook and adding journalism, broadcast journalism, and tjTODAY in 2013. Each year her media outlets are consistent NSPA Pacemaker and CSPA (Columbia Scholastic Press Association) Crown Award winners. 

Harris began working on her master’s degree in journalism education at Kent State University in 2018. During that time, she discovered a passion for student press rights advocacy and has been working towards getting a New Voices bill passed in Virginia. 

“Erinn is just a special person who has all the characteristics of a Pioneer Award winner,” said nominator Val Kibler. “Along with blazing a trail in scholastic journalism on her own, she takes the time to challenge those around her and push them to be better teachers, better thinkers, better people. I have nothing but respect for this woman and all that she has done for the world of scholastic journalism.”

Harris said if it weren’t for advising, she’d no longer be a teacher. “I love the ever-changing landscape of student media - I’m certainly never bored,” she stated. “Every year is new, especially now. Each day presents a new challenge, and every new challenge is an opportunity for the kids to show how incredibly capable they are.”