Photo by Carolina Arredondo | SISD
Vanessa Martinez, journalism teacher at El Dorado High School, is a recipient of the 2019 Rising Star Award by the Journalism Education Association.
Martinez is one of 12 teachers nationwide to earn the prestigious honor, which recognizes educators who show excellence in scholastic journalism and media advising. She was nominated for the award by Mike Taylor from Walsworth Yearbooks.
“I’m very honored and humbled to have been nominated for the Rising Star Award,” Martinez said. “I heard about it when I was a yearbook student because a lot of my mentors were Rising Stars themselves. To be in this place now feels surreal and incredible.”
Martinez graduated with a multimedia degree from the University of Texas at El Paso and has been a teacher for five years. Prior to becoming an educator, she worked as a copy editor for the El Paso Times and City Magazine.
Determined to build on an already successful yearbook club’s legacy, Martinez and her students worked hard, sometimes up to 20
additional hours each week, to publish their best work and garner prestigious recognitions.
The team has won back-to-back Silver Crown Awards from Colombia Scholastic Press Association and Best of Show for their 2018 yearbook from the National Scholastic Press Association. Under her leadership, students also have earned individual honors and have advanced to UIL regional and state competitions.
“Mrs. Martinez is a great role model and inspires us become better journalists,” said Leah Rodriguez, a senior at El Dorado and the yearbook’s editor in chief. “When I started the program, I didn’t know what I wanted to do but she saw something in me. She reinforced my strengths and weaknesses so I could grow into a good photo editor and writer.”
Though journalism is an elective, Martinez says the class prepares her students for college, careers and life.
“I love helping students find what they are good at, and I enjoy seeing them develop skills they can use no matter what career they pursue,” she said. “They will know how to meet deadlines, how to be strong writers, how to talk to people with confidence, and everything that comes with visual communication.”
Martinez will be formally recognized at the National High School Journalism Convention this fall in Washington, D.C.
To learn more about the Rising Star award, visit the JEA website.