There’s a rising star among the new faculty members at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.
Adrienne Forgette has been honored with the Journalism Education Association’s Rising Star award, a national award given to 14 accomplished journalism educators in the first six years of their careers.
Mrs. Forgette, an 11th and 12th grade English teacher who arrived this school year, has five years’ experience in journalism education, an interest she developed in her former high school in Maryland.
At that school, Mrs. Forgette advised the Patriot Images Yearbook, which earned a prestigious silver crown from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in 2012.
She holds a master's degree and is working to obtain her certification as a master journalism educator.
For her qualifying project, she’s chosen to write a five-year strategic plan to build a media program at the high school that stands out nationwide.
“I have seen the best programs and want that for the school,” she said.
Her vision involves a more comprehensive newspaper, a more journalistic yearbook, a website that’s actively managed and updated, social media use, and even a broadcasting component, she said.
With MVTV just down the road from the high school, she said it would be ideal to involve that organization in a broadcasting education program.
“With all the resources we have on the Island, there are so many great models for students,” she said.
Perhaps the students would show interest in a sports-only publication at a school like the Island regional high school, where “sports is God,” she wondered.
Ultimately she would like to see the high school’s journalism offerings grow beyond extracurricular involvement to become true school day courses.
Media is the best kind of project-based learning, she said, as it teaches organizational and academic skills. She’s been pleased to see many former students pursue careers in the field, she said.
“I love to see students run the show,” she said. “In a way, I was teaching them to be leaders.”
In Maryland, she advised a yearbook with an annual budget of $120,000, which had a team dedicated to business matters. She’d like to see the mantra, “yearbook is journalism,” inform the approach at the high school, as it moves from the art department to the English department. Nationwide, award-winning yearbooks are glorified magazines that feature innovative design and articles to accompany the photography. Only 200 students buy the regional high school yearbook each year; well below half of the student body.
At the high school, journalism is offered every few years as a semester-long elective. Next year, however, Mrs. Forgette will teach a yearlong course called writing for publication.
She came to the Vineyard to pursue an opportunity for professional growth she said, and has settled in Edgartown with her husband and eight-year-old twin daughters.
She praised the English department for the amount of intellectual freedom it affords her in her teaching.
“[Department director Dan Sharkovitz] likes teachers to create curricula based on their strengths,” she said.