By Julia Satterthwaite
2012-13 MIPA President


Julia SattherthwaiteI’m sitting here wondering how on God’s green earth I came to be president of MIPA. I blame Cheryl Pell.

She roped me in more than eight years ago with her charm and motherly instincts. She got me into summer adviser courses, which would prove to be much more useful than most of the college courses I took. She gave me a job in the MIPA office and introduced me to journalism advisers who would serve as mentors as I began the arduous task of figuring out how to run a newspaper. She wrote me a recommendation letter that helped secure my job as an English and journalism teacher at Rochester High School, where I am starting the seventh year of my teaching career.

In sum, any of the success that I’ve experienced has been mostly Cheryl’s fault.

Then there’s Betsy Rau.

I had the pleasure of taking two adviser courses with Betsy, goddess of the scholastic newsroom and MIPA’s long-time summer workshop director. In addition to teaching me how to run a newspaper, Betsy taught me about the importance of bonding with others. It was during a summer advising course with Betsy that a group of MIPA folks got to experience a memorable night of karaoke at Champps.

I also have fond memories of attending Think Tanks at Betsy’s cottage (minus the dead things on the wall — those things creeped me out), boat rides on Betsy’s pontoon and bonfires out on Betsy’s lake. She knows how to party.

In all seriousness, though, Betsy saw something in the punk college version of me that I didn’t know was there. She cultivated that. She gave me a job teaching at the summer workshop, where I could rub elbows with the best journalism educators from around the country. She pushed me to be the best.

Finally, I blame my husband, Rod Satterthwaite (who I got to know teaching at the summer journalism workshop — which was also Betsy’s and Cheryl’s fault). Anyone who knows Rod knows that he’s just plain awesome. He’s funny. He’s intelligent. He’s gentle. Rod has a way of inspiring students to do great things with his soft, yet commanding presence. It is amazing to witness.

For this, he’s earned numerous awards, including most recently the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Distinguished Adviser of the Year, which he’ll receive in San Antonio at the JEA/NSPA Fall Convention.

While many journalism teachers don’t get to collaborate with colleagues on a regular basis because they’re the only person in their building who does what they do, I get to learn from Rod every day at the dinner table. It was also Rod who talked me into running for first vice president of MIPA.

“It’s easy,” he said. “You’ll learn how to be president for two years, then take over. It’s mostly planning agendas and stuff. I’ll help you.”

Little did I know when I ran for first vice president back in 2010 that we’d be welcoming Micah Robert into the world on March 22, 2011. Little did I know that I’d be taking a one-year leave from my teaching position for the 2011-2012 school year and we’d be welcoming Jonah Elliott into the world on June 7, 2012. Little did I know that Cheryl Pell and Betsy Rau and Lynn Strause (MIPA’s yearbook chair) and Julie Price (MIPA’s newspaper chair) would all retire from MIPA in one fell swoop.

Um, OK. What do I do now? Well, here’s the plan. Some pretty cool folks will be filling the shoes of the amazing women who have retired: Jeremy Steele, Chad Sanders, C.E. Sikkenga, Pam Bunka and Erica Kincannon. Yeah, you all are now the “veterans” (read: old) the rest of us will be counting on. Also, there’s a great batch of young, spunky advisers who are stepping up to the plate: the Jeremy Whitings, Jesse McLeans and Sara-Beth Badalamentes of MIPA. I’m going to rely on these people to help get us through the next few years of transition. And I’m going to rely on you.

“Wait, me?” you’re probably thinking.

Yes, you.

If I can do this, you all have things to contribute too. Speak at the Fall Conference. Submit lessons to our Common Core wiki. Run for a position on the board. Help out on judging day. Attend a national convention. Come to adviser day at the summer workshop. Do something. You’ll be glad you did.

At one point in their lives, Cheryl, Betsy and Rod all wondered if they were good enough to step up and be leaders. But people believed in them, and they paid it forward by believing in me.

And here I am: adviser of a Spartan-winning publication, president of MIPA and mother to the most beautiful children in the universe (Jude and Dylan Wilson, Kate Whiting and Francis Badalamente can all be tied for second).

Julia Satterthwaite is the newspaper adviser at Rochester HS and is the president of MIPA.