The Official Site of the Missouri Interscholastic Journalism Association


The Official Site of the Missouri Interscholastic Journalism Association


The Official Site of the Missouri Interscholastic Journalism Association


2024 MIJA award winners announced

2024 Student Journalist of the Year

We are pleased to announce that the Missouri Student Journalist of the Year is Elizabeth Franklin of Parkway West High School.

Franklin is a fourth-year journalism student who describes herself as a storyteller who gives “a voice to communities that are often eclipsed, especially historically disadvantaged communities.” She currently holds the position of Editor-in-Chief of Parkway West’s student news site, Pathfinder. She has future plans of becoming a civil rights attorney

In her personal essay, Franklin stated the following: “It’s both the things that stay the same and the things that change that create a fresh, burgeoning journalism program — one that adapts to its students and staff. After all, the program had adapted to me — a student with a chronic illness that I’d been told would most likely go away in my teenage years but instead surged with a vengeance after COVID-19 had sunk its claws into me at the end of my sophomore year. My illness was a constant battle in my life, but I believe that journalism is what encouraged me to keep stepping forward despite the constant opposition of my own body; inspiring me to do what I can, when I can. And I could do a lot more than I thought…Journalism helped me learn how to push myself without going beyond my limits because it was something I wanted to do; something that forced out the monotony of staying in bed all day and doctor’s appointments and the general terribleness of being sick. The average person wouldn’t know that. Strangely enough, that’s exactly why journalism hooked me — I loved asking questions and digging beneath a surface that no one thought had any depth. My own story is not straightforward, and perhaps that is why I enjoy journalism so much — because journalism is not so straightforward, either.”

Her adviser, Lindsey Katz, said, “What sets Elizabeth apart is her relentless pursuit of untold stories. She works to share narratives that have been overlooked, demonstrating a genuine passion for bringing marginalized voices to the forefront. Her dedication to inclusivity and representation is commendable and reflects her deep sense of social responsibility. From the moment I met Elizabeth last summer, her goal has always been to amplify voices and give a platform for everyone to tell their story.”

You can read more about Elizabeth and see her work here:


2024 Journalism Teacher of the Year

We are happy to announce that the MIJA Journalism Teacher of the Year is Laura Greenley of Knox County R-1 High School. Greenley is the school’s multimedia instructor & yearbook adviser.

Greenley was nominated by adviser Dawn Llewellyn, who said, “Mrs. Greenley continues to strive to ensure that the students in our program have everything they need to be successful journalists. She consistently advocates to the administration to update our equipment. This year, we were able to get eight new Macs thanks to her efforts. She consistently seeks out funds for our program and this year we were able to update our set lighting, order a prompter, and will soon have a new camera for recording. She also recently started a J Club for middle school students to get more students interested in journalism earlier. Because of J Club, the future of our program is bright and will ensure that students coming into high school already have the experience needed to jump right into both broadcast and newspaper journalism.”

2024 Rising Star

We are happy to announce that Knox County R-1 High School adviser Dawn Llewellyn is the 2024 MIJA Rising Star winner.

Llewellyn was nominated by adviser Laura Greenley, who said, “Dawn’s dedication and passion for journalism are truly commendable. Following a semester shadowing my class, she wasted no time immersing herself fully in the program. With her extensive newspaper reporting and editing background, Dawn played a pivotal role in revitalizing the newspaper side of multimedia journalism within our school. Her efforts were particularly remarkable as Knox County had been without a school newspaper for over three decades. Dawn’s initiative in giving voices to our students and sharing stories from across the school district has been instrumental in fostering a culture of free expression and journalistic excellence.”

2024 Administrator of the Year

We are happy to announce that the MIJA Administrator of the Year is principal Jeffrey Fletcher of Francis Howell North High School.

Fletcher was nominated by advisers Aaron Manfull and Jordyn Kiel. 

In her recommendation, Kiel said, “Though our district doesn’t name student publications specifically as open forums for student expression in the district policy, we feel incredibly fortunate that Jeff operates in a way that gives our students full responsibility for what they cover and how they cover it. He does not exercise censorship or prior review, and our students feel comfortable letting him know if they are covering a topic that could be potentially controversial as a courtesy. It has been clear from the start that he supports what’s best for student learning and students’ First Amendment rights.”

Manfull also said of Fletcher, “While he’s only been at FHN for two years, his support for student journalists, the school’s journalism advisers and the First Amendment is evident. He’s had an open-door policy since the first day he started with students, inviting them in to talk and fielding numerous interviews each month on whatever topic the students are covering, from new school policies to student walkouts. He always works to make time to answer questions the best he can and has never told them there’s any topic that’s off limits for them to talk to him about. He’s even worked with the program’s editors each year not just to go over their detailed editorial policy, but to express his support of the contents within.” 

2024 Taft Award Winner

We are happy to announce that Dan Mueller of Varsity Yearbook (formerly Herff Jones) is the 2024 MIJA Taft Award winner.

Mueller was nominated by six members of the journalism community. 

In her nomination, adviser Carrie Rapp said, “Dan is passionate about providing feedback to students and programs regardless of level and is always willing to meet students and advisers where they are. Dan and his colleagues at Herff Jones organize several workshops and learning opportunities for their schools in the area and travel to spread their expertise as well. In addition to his support of journalism in the St. Louis community, Dan continues his involvement in the national journalism community by continuing to serve as a judge for National Scholastic Media Contests, something that he has done his entire career. The St. Louis journalism community is truly lucky to have such a resource at their disposal. My yearbook program is what it is because of his support and I can think of no one more deserving of this award.”

Former Taft Award winner and adviser Nancy Smith said, “Dan Mueller has served the St. Louis area as a representative for Herff Jones (now Varsity Yearbook) since 2004. But, his reach as a knowledgeable yearbook leader goes far beyond his role for the company he works for. In addition to his very large customer base, Dan is dedicated to the field of scholastic journalism in general and demonstrates that by working with students and advisers nationwide and especially in his home state of Missouri. He has become the go-to guy for literally thousands of students and advisers across the state and country. His enthusiasm and knowledge and willingness to share those with anyone who needs his help set him above the rest. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of your recognition.”

Adviser Debra Klevens said, “Dan is like an emergency room physician for the Yearbook world. He is available day or night to help ensure the success of our programs. He is more than a rep. He is an industry leader and the kind of person I feel blessed to call my friend. Although he is no longer my rep, he continues to inspire, encourage, inform, educate and motivate me to persevere. He is dedicated to the art of yearbook and storytelling. Dan Mueller is in the people business. He works to develop our strengths and weaknesses. He is a relationship builder, a connector, and the type of human being I strive to be.”

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