Details submitted by david arbogast, Colleague, Loudoun County Public Schools
—Ms. Akers teaches Photojournalism I,II, and III. In addition, she is advisor for the yearbook at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, VA. She has been working at Loudoun Valley High School since 1980.
—For three summers she taught a summer class for beginning and inexperienced yearbook advisers at Virginia Commonwealth University. It was part of a partnership between VCU and the Virginia High School League. To this day, many of those advisers are still in the classroom and have strong programs.
—She co-edited the latest edition (2010) of the Jostens 1, 2, 3 Student Yearbook Guide. In a field where definitive curriculum materials are in short supply, she is proud to have worked on a publication that is available to ALL advisers in the country, not just the ones who work for Jostens.
—For the fifth consecutive year, she will be an instructor at Jostens Adviser University. Held in different locations throughout the country, this summer workshop provides instruction specific to advisers at all levels.
Susan A. Ross,Principal of Loudoun Valley High Schoolhad this to say about the award winner: I have known and worked closely with Martha Akers for eight years now and I am both pleased and honored to write a letter recommending Martha for the mentoring excellence advisor award.
As yearbook advisor and teacher, Ms. Akers’ long list of accolades and achievements speaks for itself. What is remarkable is that day in and day out; year in and year out, Martha is quick to attribute these achievements to the work of her students, as well she should. But beneath all the awards and honors lies a deep, masterful, and abiding commitment to kids, to learning and to leadership.
It is the transformation of kids from quiet, shy, hesitant students into strong, skilled, capable leaders and achievers that is the stuff of which Martha is made – this is her magic. And the fact that she has done this year in and year out not only at Loudoun Valley High School but both regionally and nationally puts her in the category of truly remarkable. She is an icon in photojournalism teacher and leader circles.
As one of her colleagues points out, because she is completely inclusive and invites any and all students to participate in her classes, she must cultivate and depend upon student leaders. Martha believes so strongly in her students, they end up believing and trusting in themselves. This is the kind of education I believe our founding fathers had in mind for citizens – the cultivation and refinement of passion, interests, and citizen leaders. This is what Martha does with every student every day of every year – and she does it with a steadfast commitment to high expectations in a way that makes all students desire and believe they can achieve great things. This is nothing short of extraordinary.
As a long time teacher and principal, I see that the attributes Martha displays both with students and with her colleagues are ones that any parent would only dream of having in a teacher for their children; that any teacher would only dream of having in a colleague; that any principal would only dream of having in a community member. The good news for kids is that Martha is very real – and not a dream - and deserves this award not because she has worked toward it but because she, day in and day out, embodies the true spirit of the award.
List of high school journalism activities including offices held, committes, honors, service, etc:
—Gold Circle Judge, Columbia Scholastic Press Association, 1995-1997
—Gold Crown Judge, Initial Round, Columbia Scholastic Press Association, 1996, 1997
—Chairperson of Columbia Scholastic Press Advisers’ Association’s Nominating Committee 1988, 1990 (chair)
—Member of the Newseum’s Teacher Adviser Board, 1996-2000
—Director of Virginia High School League’s Fall Publications Workshop, 1992-2000
—Virginia High School League’s Scholastic Publications Advisory Committee, 1986-present, (chaired yearbook strand, 1987-1990)
— Served on Virginia High School League’s Savedge Scholarship Committee, 1991,1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004.
— Served on a Virginia High School League committee that established the Charles E. Savedge Scholarship for Virginia student journalists and the Charles E. Savedge Award for Sustained Excellence in Journalism, 1991