An average work week for English and yearbook teacher Laurie Hansen does not end at 3:30 p.m., rather that’s when her duties as yearbook and literary magazine adviser begin. Often, Hansen puts in an additional 20-25 hours per week advising, editing, and managing her two publications. It is not uncommon to see Hansen and several of her yearbook staff members camped out in the publications room on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, working hard to meet a deadline.
For the past 17 years, Hansen has advised both the award-winning 300+ page digital yearbook the Kabekonian and the Stylus, SAHS’s literary magazine. During her first 10 years, she also advised a third publication, the Pony Express newspaper. All three earned some of the highest awards given by National Scholastic Press Association, Quill and Scroll, and the Journalism Education Association.
Yet, Hansen’s accomplishments extend beyond the classroom. For nearly 15 years Hansen has presented and participated in a number of journalism workshops, not only in Minnesota, but around the country. On average, she speaks at anywhere from 2-4 summer conventions each year. Additionally, she judges yearbooks from around the country on a regular basis, offering suggestions and constructive feedback for other schools. For the past four years, Hansen has served as the Minnesota Journalism Education Association’s President. In that role, she helps organize all awards, critiques, contents, and events sponsored by JEA. Hansen also co-Directs Big Woods, Big Planes each spring.
Hansen has recently earned some noteworthy awards for her role as an adviser. In November, Hansen was honored at the National Scholastic Press Association’s fall convention in Chicago. She was awarded the Pionner Award, which is the highest award NSPA offers to journalism educators. Pioneers are individuals who make substantial contributions to high school publications and journalism programs outside of their primary employment. NSPA maintains a composite plaque of Pioneers and displays it at all JEA/NSPA fall national conventions. Candidates are nominated by previous Pioneer winners.
Hansen joking refers to this award as the “Old geezers” award because traditionally it’s awarded to people who have been in the field of journalism awhile. Hansen is flattered by the award, but still considers herself a rookie when she compares herself to the previous prestigious awardees. The award is in part reflective of the success of her publications; the Kabekonian yearbook has earned numerous national awards, including placing in the top 100 yearbooks nation-wide. The Stylus also placed in the literary magazine Hall of Fame.
Hansen also won the KS95 radio’s Teacher of the Week in December. On Dec. 9, Greg and Sheryl came to SAHS to present Hansen with her award and have her picture taken with the DJs and the two seniors who nominated her, Ashley Klein, Tacy Jo Nunlee, and John Peterson. Her yearbook students nominated her by submitting a letter explaining why she deserved the award. According to Greg and Sheryl, they very rarely honor high school teachers. Her name will be entered into a drawing for $1000 and she will be honored at a luncheon in the spring.
Hansen’s favorite parts about being a yearbook adviser are the accomplishments of watching students take a sketch they made over the summer and watching it grow into something. She loves the “creativity and crisis all at once.” The amount of “problem solving, movement, and creativity” involved all make the experience worthwhile for Hansen. Plus, she adds, “When the book arrives, I love to smell it. The smell of a book fresh off the press…there’s nothing like it.”