The Michigan Interscholastic Press Association has honored Grosse Pointe South High School teacher Kaitlin Edgerton with its 2022 Golden Pen Award.
Edgerton was recognized during an online ceremony on April 21.
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 they have had on current and past students.
The recipient is chosen by a committee of previous Golden Pen honorees.
Edgerton has advised Grosse Pointe South High School’s newspaper, The Tower, and its companion website, The Tower Pulse, since 2016. She starting her teaching career at Madison High School, where she advised the newspaper and yearbook.
South students Eleni Tecos and Meghan Wysocki, print editors-in-chief of The Tower, and Paige Evers, web editor-in-chief of The Tower Pulse, said in their nomination of Edgerton that she is a driving force of their program — even while letting students lead the way.
“I am so lucky to have someone like Edge in my corner,” Tecos wrote in a letter support of her teacher, who she referred to her by a nickname students commonly use. “It’s one thing to be a teacher that advises a school newspaper, but it’s another to be an unrelenting adviser and advocate for your students. Edge is that person. She is compassionate, kind, intelligent, and by far the most impactful teacher I have ever had.”
Edgerton has also been a leader in scholastic journalism. She is in the final months of a two-year term as MIPA president. She first joined the board in 2017 as second vice president. She’s a frequent judge for contests held by MIPA and other states, and has been an instructor at the MIPA Summer Journalism Workshop at Michigan State University.
This past year, Edgerton guided students as they converted the venerable print newspaper, which began as a weekly in 1928, to a biweekly publication — shrinking the page size to give it more of a newsmagazine feel.
Supervising Editor Anna Czech said Edgerton gives her students freedom to make make choices that help them grow as leaders.
“Although I will admit sometimes I’ve just wanted the immediate ‘right answer,’ I recognize that without her balance of mentoring and independence, I would not be as confident in my position and would not have had the same leadership opportunities,” Czech wrote in a letter of support.
Supervising Editor Grace Wininger said Edgerton stayed focused on her students during the period when the school moved to remote learning during the pandemic. She recounted a time during a class via Zoom when Edgerton noticed Wininger was having a hard time and pulled her into a separate online meeting room to talk.
“Any teacher can lead a class, but there are so, so few teachers who can offer a helping hand to a student who needs it,” Wininger wrote.
The Tower’s rich history has made it among the most prestigious advising jobs in the state, but that also makes it “a big-time job with huge pressure,” wrote C.E. Sikkenga, recipient of the Golden Pen in 2019 and adviser of The Bucs’ Blade newspaper at Grand Haven High School, in a letter of support of Edgerton’s nomination.
“Predictably, Kaitlin handled it like a champ, adding her own stamp to The Tower’s tradition,” Sikkenga said. “She helped shepherd the paper through a centennial anniversary, dealt with some very stressful administrative conflicts and, of course, the usual stresses that come with replacing a popular folk-hero of a predecessor and did so with flying colors.”
Edgerton has a bachelor’s degree in English and and master’s degree in English/language arts teacher education from Oakland University, as well as a teaching minor in journalism from Michigan State University. She lives in Macomb Township with her husband, Bill Edgerton, and their daughter, Virginia.
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.