The Michigan Interscholastic Press Association has honored Grand Blanc High School teacher Ava Butzu with its 2020 Golden Pen Award.
The Golden Pen is the highest award MIPA bestows on a student media adviser and has been given continuously since 1952. Teachers must be nominated by their students, who assemble an extensive portfolio showcasing the teacher’s involvement in scholastic journalism activities and the impact he or she has had on current and past students.
The recipient is chosen by a committee of previous Golden Pen honorees.
“She has mastered the formula to create journalists that allow our program to grow, year after year, and this is something that some advisers could only dream of having,” Julian McKenzie, co-editor-in-chief of the yearbook, wrote in his letter nominating Butzu. “Butzu lives, breathes and dreams yearbook.”
Butzu has advised Grand Blanc High School’s yearbook, Echo, since 2003. In that time, the program has earned a Spartan Award, MIPA’s top honor, 12 times and it was inducted into MIPA’s Student Media Hall of Fame in 2018. The Echo yearbook also was a finalist for the National Scholastic Press Association’s top Pacemaker award in 2018 and earned a Silver Crown from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association in 2016.
She’s also been a volunteer and leader within MIPA, currently serving as president. She is a frequent speaker at conferences throughout the country and an instructor at state and national workshops.
Butzu also teaches Advanced Placement Language and Composition at Grand Blanc High School and is a yoga instructor.
“Ava is one of those teachers who people speak about years and decades after graduating. The kind of amazing educator who has a lasting impact on one’s life, both at the time of those key developmental years in high school and later during college and eventually entering into the professional world,” wrote Jessica Eisenbeis, 2003-04 editor of the Echo. Eisenbeis now is program manager for the University of Chicago UIC Extended Campus Office.
“Butzu does have one flaw — she cares too much,” wrote Olivia Bradish, 2017-19 Echo editor-in-chief and now a senior copy editor at The Michigan Daily, the student newspaper at the University of Michigan. “It is because of this dedication that her program and students are as strong as they are.”
MIPA launched the Golden Pen Award in 1952 as one of several ways to memorialize Donal Hamilton Haines, a University of Michigan Department of Journalism professor who served as MIPA’s director from its early days until 1950. Haines also advised U-M’s student chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, now known as the Society of Professional Journalists, which was the key organizer of MIPA’s first conference on May 22, 1922. Sigma Delta Chi honored the first Golden Pen winners with a golden “key” or pin of a quill, a tradition MIPA continues.
ABOUT THE MICHIGAN INTERSCHOLASTIC PRESS ASSOCIATION
Founded in 1921 and housed in the Michigan State University School of Journalism, the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association is a nonprofit organization composed of scholastic journalism teachers and publications advisers and their students. MIPA is committed to promoting and recognizing excellence in scholastic journalism at all levels through education, training and support of student journalists and their advisers.