Madison East High School teacher honored with prestigious education award

MADISON, Wis. — A Madison East High School teacher is one of three honorees in the country to receive a prestigious award for her work teaching students about journalism and media.

District officials said East High School business and media teacher April van Buren was picked as one of three recipients for this year’s Pioneer award, given out by the National Scholastic Press Association. The award, which recognizes educators who share their passion for journalism within and beyond the classroom, is the group’s highest honor given to journalism educators.

Throughout her time with MMSD, van Buren has mentored East High students in the school’s Newspaper and Photography Club and pushed for a journalism class sequence within the district. She said seeing how journalism helps kids grow is her favorite part about her lessons.

“I just really love being able to teach journalism in so many ways,” van Buren said. “Teaching kids how to communicate visually as well as verbally, asking open-ended questions, determining bias, just even things like capitalizing proper nouns. Active voice, sentence structure — basic stuff is really important and they’re more likely to learn it when they have a real-world audience.”

Van Buren’s love for journalism dates back to the first class she took in the field when she was 15. She later took a journalism course as part of her undergraduate studies; that professor is a previous recipient of the same award.

“To be on the same list with teachers who have been mentors to me for years, including my own journalism professor, is pretty awesome.”

In addition to her work with MMSD, van Buren serves as a board member for the Wisconsin Journalism Education Association and the Kettle Moraine Press Association.