Photo courtesy Shari Chumley
Mississippi teacher earns 2021 Benz Scholarship
State’s 2016 adviser of the year oversees multiple media at Tupelo High School
Shari Chumley, Tupelo High School
Shari Chumley, the journalism adviser at Tupelo High School in Tupelo, Mississippi, and an admitted “professional development junkie,” has been named the recipient of the 2021 Lester G. Benz Memorial Scholarship. The Benz carries with it a $500 prize that will be applied to the cost of professional development in journalism.
Chumley, a JEA Certified Journalism Educator, was named the Tupelo High School Teacher of the Year for 2020-2021, a CREATE Foundation Teacher of Distinction in 2019, and the Mississippi Yearbook Adviser of the Year in 2016. Her students have won several state awards for their work in the school newspaper, the news website, the yearbook, the literary magazine and the student podcast.
In addition to her work at THS, Chumley has been an active member on the board of directors of the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association, serving as contest coordinator since 2017.
“She has shepherded us through significant upgrades and contest realignments during her tenure, bringing invaluable institutional memory and stability to that area of our organization,” wrote R.J. Morgan, MSPA’s executive director. “I would dare say no other educator in the state possesses a deeper understanding of scholastic competitions and their critical role in incentivizing student performance than Shari.”
Though still undecided on how she’ll use the $500 grant, Chumley knows that she’ll put it to good use.
“I have found that the more I attend these workshops and classes, the more energized I am to get my students and future journalists involved and excited about scholastic journalism,” she wrote in her application. “My hope and goal is to help my students create publications of which they, our school and community are proud, and maybe even win an award or two in the process.”
Tupelo’s Quill and Scroll chapter hosted a journalism job fair in 2019. Photo courtesy Shari Chumley.
Who is Eligible?
The 2022 Lester Benz Scholarship form will be available in February 2022. Deadline will be April 15, 2022.
Quill and Scroll encourages applicants who:
- teach at a Quill and Scroll charter school (check here to see if you are and, if you’re not, how to get a charter),
- have at least one year teaching high school journalism and/or advising publications,
- have a minimum of one year experience teaching journalism or advising school publications,
- plan to return to the high school classroom and media advising next year AND
- will apply the information gained in the course work, seminar or workshop taken as a result of this scholarship.
The scholarship program’s objective is to identify and reward experienced journalism teachers and publication advisers (as defined above) who seek the opportunity to upgrade their journalism skills, teaching methodologies and advising techniques.
Complete the application form below this section, including the requirement that you submit two letters of recommendation from people who will attest to your journalism teaching skill, publication advising, quality of the journalistic writing course(s) you teach and the quality of the publication(s) you advise. The letters of recommendation should come from any of the following sources:
- Vice or Assistant Principal
- Department Chair
- Regional or State Scholastic Press Association Director
- Scholastic Journalism Workshop Director
- A faculty member of the school, college or department of journalism for whom you will take a journalism course
- JEA mentor, current or former
It is the intent to select a journalism teacher/publication adviser who plans to take course work that is definitely beyond the introductory level. Descriptions of courses or workshops should be submitted with the application to help inform the scholarship committee about the plan of study.