The Scripps Howard Foundation in partnership with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC) has named Howard University Associate Professor Jennifer Thomas as the 2019 Teacher of the Year. The award is scheduled to be presented at the 2020 AEJMC San Francisco Conference August 6-9, 2020.
“We are so pleased to hear of Jennifer Thomas’ recognition,” says Gracie Lawson-Borders, Ph.D., dean of the Cathy Hughes School of Communications. “She is one of the crown jewels of our school and we recognize and celebrate her accomplishment.”
Thomas teaches in the Department of Media, Journalism and Film and advises students within the Howard University Chapter of National Association of Black Journalists (HUNABJ). “I am extremely humbled by this honor and excited to represent the institution that molded me as a student and has allowed me the opportunity to do the same as an alumna and associate professor,” says Thomas, who teaches broadcast journalism.
Thomas has also served as producer and executive producer for 20 years and is a published author. Her research has dissected current practices and pedagogies in journalism, the transition from professional to professor, and the complex facets of women, media and images. Her research has led her to conferences in the U.S and Namibia, Africa as well as to South Africa as a featured guest with the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the U.S. Speaker Program.
The award announcement arrived during the rise of COVID-19, and Thomas utilized her years of experience to help broadcast students learn remotely and prepare to be in the field themselves. She understands that the more digitally-savvy each generation becomes, the more it may require unique strategies for teaching.
“My teaching is interdisciplinary, active and holistic while emphasizing responsible and ethical journalism. I utilize my industry experience to provide both practical and pedagogical fundamentals to my instruction, with the ultimate goal of having graduates successfully transition from classroom to newsroom, control room, and ultimately the board room,” says Thomas.
Thomas has converted the classroom into a newsroom, and “the studio and control room become ‘labs,’ complete with deadline management.”
“A challenge with college students is to maintain their attention,” she says. “I have several strategies that are part of my active pedagogy. These involve social media, field trips, guests, and interaction to include today’s converged media landscape into my teaching practices. Some of these practices include using cell-phones to research and produce broadcast-digital quality pieces.”