When Laura Schaub was a senior in high school she rode a bus from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Chicago for Thanksgiving weekend. Instead of spending the holiday with family feasting on food, she attended the NSPA conference where she fueled her passion for student journalism.
That passion grew her entire life and continues today.
“I’ve been [to JEA/NSPA] almost every year in the fall and spring since the late 1980s,” says Schaub. “I’ve presented at all the conferences I’ve attended.”
Over the years she’s built many friendships through the conference with others who are equally passionate about the world of scholastic journalism.
“I love meeting the students and teachers who come to the conference to learn more about writing, design, photography and all other aspects of producing top quality publications and projects,” she says.
As the National Education Director for Lifetouch, she sees firsthand the difference these conferences make for students and teachers. It not only gives them countless ideas they can implement immediately when they return, but also provides a space of kindness and kinship.
“Teaching journalism/yearbook is a lonely job in most schools,” Schaub says. “I think the teachers gravitate to JEA/NSPA because they find other advisers who share their interests. Oftentimes, they see those same teachers year after year, and it’s sort of like a reunion for them.”
Of course the conference isn’t just for educators. Students have ample opportunity to learn, create and bond.
“Students who attend come home with strong leadership skills, feeling empowered to produce the best publications their school has ever seen,” she says. “They see new ideas and grow their knowledge in all areas of journalism. They compete with students from other schools in a number of areas, such as writing, photography, videography and design. Winning national recognition at this conference is such an honor.”
As the conference nears, Schaub is getting excited about the three sessions she’ll be presenting:
Step-by-step design session
“It’s so important to learn how to plan the design first before you do anything else. It’s also important for designers, editors, writers and photographers to build the plan together,” says Schaub.
Armed with a plan, students know what they’re placing on a page before they even take pictures for it.
“They fully understand the story’s angle and how they will tell the story through primary and secondary modules,” she says. “I also emphasize design elements and their importance in building an excellent double-page spread. By planning their design first, their time-on-task is well-spent.”
Visual storytelling session
Visual storytelling shows students and advisers how to tell the story through the lens of a video or still camera.
“The stories show strong central characters through the eyes of others — their friends or others who know them well — and reveal the traits that allow the strong central character to overcome obstacles during their journey,” explains Schaub, who learned the formula when she was a professor at the University of Oklahoma.
“At that time, convergence between print and video was occurring. As a print media specialist, I knew that I needed to learn more about video and visual storytelling. I made friends with the video professors and began to study their craft,” she adds.
Typography is boring? No way, says Schaub, who proudly declares her adoration for typography.
“I taught typography and design at University of Oklahoma for 24 semesters and loved every minute of it,” she says. “To me, typefaces have personalities that help us convey thoughts, feelings and ideas.”
While type can make or break a design, choosing the wrong typeface for body copy, for example, can cause readers to avoid the content. Selecting the right typeface engages the reader and helps tell the story more effectively.
“In this session, we learn the rules of typography so we choose type that works well on the page,” she says. “We also learn how to break the rules sometimes, if we have reason to do so. Those who attend the session walk away with hundreds of ideas to design headlines and logos visually through clever and creative type choices.”
Will you be attending the conference in Chicago this year?
If so, Schaub wants you to know it’s a place where you can learn and feel proud of what you do.
“I want those who attend JEA/NSPA to understand that they can produce top-quality publications and projects. I want them to feel empowered to lead their staffs toward excellence. I also want them to be proud of what they do,” she says.
You can meet Schaub by attending one of her sessions. Chat with her and other Lifetouch experts at booths 107 and 207.