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Val Kibler: Happy 50th

26 Jan Val Kibler: Happy 50th

Val Kibler doesn’t like to have her picture taken. So that I was able to find 56 unique images from the last decade is actually kind of remarkable. But it’s really a testimony to how much Kibler has been out in front, leading the way in scholastic journalism for the last decade.

This January Kibler celebrates her 50th birthday.

Now, while some of her friends will, inevitably, be having fun in the mountains of Virginia, most of us won’t get the chance to personally say Happy Birthday this month.

But we can congratulate her.

Kibler, as Casey Nichols read when Kibler won the Journalism Education Association Medal of Merit in 2014, has taught English and advised journalism at Harrisonburg (Virginia) High School since 1998. Her students produce the national award-winning Newsstreak newspaper and website. In 2010, Kibler was named Dow Jones News Fund National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year and she received the Gold Key from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

“She has an undying dedication to improving scholastic journalism in every corner of the country,” wrote Chris Waugaman, MJE, of Prince George (Virginia) High School.

And Carol Lange, CJE, said, “Valerie sees the humor in situations, understands the changing presence of technology and is a role model for her students and young teacher-advisers.”

Val

Val Kibler at the Virginia summer workshop at James Madison University, July 14-17, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler at the Virginia summer workshop at James Madison University, July 14-17, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler talks at the Saturday luncheon in Kansas City. The Dow Jones News Fund named Kibler as the National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year. Photo by Bradley WIlson
Val Kibler talks at the Saturday luncheon in Kansas City. The Dow Jones News Fund named Kibler as the National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year. Photo by Bradley WIlson
Valerie Kibler. by Alyssa Stover
Valerie Kibler. by Alyssa Stover
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Valerie Kibler. By Alyssa Stover
Valerie Kibler. By Alyssa Stover
At Southern Kitchen in New Market, Virginia with Valerie Kibler, her husband, Steve Johnson and Casey Nichols
At Southern Kitchen in New Market, Virginia with Valerie Kibler, her husband, Steve Johnson and Casey Nichols
Chris Waugman, Bobby Hawthorne, Kelly Furnas, Val Kibler in Lexington, Va.
Chris Waugman, Bobby Hawthorne, Kelly Furnas, Val Kibler in Lexington, Va.
Val Kibler at the Lexington Coffee Shop. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler at the Lexington Coffee Shop. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler introduces Bobby Hawthorne at the Virginia Journalism Camp at Washington and Lee University, June 23, 2013. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler introduces Bobby Hawthorne at the Virginia Journalism Camp at Washington and Lee University, June 23, 2013. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler introduces Bobby Hawthorne at the Virginia Journalism Camp at Washington and Lee University, June 23, 2013. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler introduces Bobby Hawthorne at the Virginia Journalism Camp at Washington and Lee University, June 23, 2013. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler taks a photo on her smartphone at the Virginia Journalsim Camp June 23, 2013.
Val Kibler taks a photo on her smartphone at the Virginia Journalsim Camp June 23, 2013.
Val Kibler walks across campus Virginia Journalism Camp at Washington and Lee University, June 23, 2013. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler walks across campus Virginia Journalism Camp at Washington and Lee University, June 23, 2013. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Bradley Wilson, Val Kibler and other people talk at the workshop in where it is.
Bradley Wilson, Val Kibler and other people talk at the workshop in where it is.
Val Kibler talks with her class at the Virginia Journalism Camp at Washington and Lee University, June 23, 2013. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler talks with her class at the Virginia Journalism Camp at Washington and Lee University, June 23, 2013. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler talks with her class at the Virginia Journalism Camp at Washington and Lee University, June 23, 2013. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler talks with her class at the Virginia Journalism Camp at Washington and Lee University, June 23, 2013. Photo by Bradley Wilson
in Harrisonburg, Va.
in Harrisonburg, Va.
at the Virginia summer media workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson.
at the Virginia summer media workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson.
at the Virginia summer media workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson.
at the Virginia summer media workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson.
at the Virginia Journalism Camp at James Madison University, July 14, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
at the Virginia Journalism Camp at James Madison University, July 14, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
at the Virginia Journalism Camp at James Madison University, July 14, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
at the Virginia Journalism Camp at James Madison University, July 14, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
at the Virginia Journalism Camp at James Madison University, July 14, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
at the Virginia Journalism Camp at James Madison University, July 14, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
With Val Kibler and Chris Waugaman at the Harrisonburg Farmer's Market assignment, part of the Virginia summer workshop at James Madison University, July 14-17, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
With Val Kibler and Chris Waugaman at the Harrisonburg Farmer's Market assignment, part of the Virginia summer workshop at James Madison University, July 14-17, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler welcomes 6,200 students and instructors to the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler welcomes 6,200 students and instructors to the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler welcomes 6,200 students and instructors to the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler welcomes 6,200 students and instructors to the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler welcomes 6,200 students and instructors to the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler welcomes 6,200 students and instructors to the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Mark Newton and Val Kibler at the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Mark Newton and Val Kibler at the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Mark Newton and Val Kibler at the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Mark Newton and Val Kibler at the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val and Bobby Kibler at the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val and Bobby Kibler at the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
at the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
at the national convention of the National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association in Washington, D.C. Nov. 6-9, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Sarah Nichols and Val Kibler at the awards ceremony during the National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando, Nov. 14, 2015. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Sarah Nichols and Val Kibler at the awards ceremony during the National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando, Nov. 14, 2015. Photo by Bradley Wilson
(FRONT) Aaron Mercer, Val Kibler, Jim McGonnell, Linda Shockley, Brenda Gorsuch, John Cutsinger, John Bowen, Don Bott; (FRONT) Candace Perkins-Bowen, Mitch Ziegler, Linda Ballew. Past recipients of the Dow Jones News Fund National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year Award at the awards ceremony during the National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando, Nov. 14, 2015. Photo by Bradley Wilson
(FRONT) Aaron Mercer, Val Kibler, Jim McGonnell, Linda Shockley, Brenda Gorsuch, John Cutsinger, John Bowen, Don Bott; (FRONT) Candace Perkins-Bowen, Mitch Ziegler, Linda Ballew. Past recipients of the Dow Jones News Fund National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year Award at the awards ceremony during the National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando, Nov. 14, 2015. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Lori Keekley, Val Kibler, Sarah Nichols, and Candace Perkins Bowen at the awards ceremony during the National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando, Nov. 14, 2015. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Lori Keekley, Val Kibler, Sarah Nichols, and Candace Perkins Bowen at the awards ceremony during the National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando, Nov. 14, 2015. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler discusses journalism at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler discusses journalism at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler discusses journalism at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler discusses journalism at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler discusses journalism at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler discusses journalism at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler discusses journalism at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler discusses journalism at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler discusses journalism at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Val Kibler discusses journalism at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Valerie Kibler and Sarah Nichols at the National High School Journalism Convention in Indianapolis, Nov. 12, 2016. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Valerie Kibler and Sarah Nichols at the National High School Journalism Convention in Indianapolis, Nov. 12, 2016. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Nancy Smith and Val Kibler at the National High School Journalism Convention in Indianapolis, Nov. 12, 2016. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Nancy Smith and Val Kibler at the National High School Journalism Convention in Indianapolis, Nov. 12, 2016. Photo by Bradley Wilson
John Bowen, Mitch Eden, Jim McGonnell, Dow Tate, Lori Keekley, Karl Grubaugh, Valerie Kibler, Candace Bowen, Jim Streisel, Robin Sawyer, Aaron Manfull, Ellen Austin. Past and present recipients of the National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year Award at the National High School Journalism Convention in Indianapolis, Nov. 12, 2016. Photo by Bradley Wilson
John Bowen, Mitch Eden, Jim McGonnell, Dow Tate, Lori Keekley, Karl Grubaugh, Valerie Kibler, Candace Bowen, Jim Streisel, Robin Sawyer, Aaron Manfull, Ellen Austin. Past and present recipients of the National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year Award at the National High School Journalism Convention in Indianapolis, Nov. 12, 2016. Photo by Bradley Wilson

Not just me.

But it’s not just me that should be wishing Kibler happy birthday. There are a lot of people who have learned a lot and had a lot of fun — sometimes at Kibler’s expense or frustration.

Some of my favorites.

One of Val's students counts pennies in Kibler's classroom. Photo by Bradley Wilson

One of Val’s students counts pennies in Kibler’s classroom. Photo by Bradley Wilson

I was out at Harrisonburg High School teaching a little photo workshop which I did half a dozen or so times. If you haven’t been to the high school, you should visit. It’s huge. It’s across the street from a turkey farm. And Kibler’s room is home base. Not only home base for the newspaper staff, home base for, well, everyone in the school.

This particular day, the student government or some group was having a penny war. Every five minutes, someone would knock on the door — which I tried to shut — would come in and would drop a handful of pennies in a jar. So much for trying to get any teaching done.

On another trip to Harrisburg High School — in 2013, before the VAJTA Spring jDay — there was the tornado drill. It’s amazing teachers ever get to teach.

Justin Miller was the Bromander-in-Chief at one of the Virginia Tech summer workshops.

Justin Miller was the Bromander-in-Chief at the 2010  summer workshop held at Virginia Tech.

Then there was our year, 2010, at the summer VAJTA workshop at Virginia Tech. The students enjoyed chasing the skunks around campus — “Don’t catch the skunks,” we told them time after time. They played volleyball. But they had some fun too.

Led by Justin Miller — the Bromander-in-Chief. Miller was a quality journalist. Indeed, he’s now earned his master of science in publishing from New York University after graduating from William and Mary. But he also knew how to have fun. From rearranging dorm rooms to winning in camp games, he led a great group of folks. “JCamp makes me feel like I’m living in a teenage dream,” he said.

After the workshop, he posted on his Facebook page:

It’s an indescribable feeling to be around students who are so passionate about what they’re doing (whether photography, writing, design). They were all so young and in the middle of figuring out their lives. Where should I apply to school? What should I major in? How many years of a foreign language do I need? Though some of them have plans, which is impressive, each of them has no idea how truly their lives will be affected by college, and the people they meet. I honestly am still upset and teary eyed that it’s already over. Only four and a half days. And the majority of the time they were in class, and/or I was trying to make sure they were behaving. It’s a small amount of time to form such a powerful bond, but it did happen. I can do nothing but give thanks to God for sending me to jCamp, and allowing me to meet who I did; allowing me to come into their lives–even if for a brief amount of time–to offer them advice about college; and most importantly, allowing them to come into my own life, too.

Some of those kids I will probably never see again, which is depressing, and I hope that in some way, no matter how small, I positively influenced them.  But I managed to form bonds with certain kids that I know will grow into strong friendships.  Seeing the ambition, the dream, the hope, and the desire in their eyes is enough to brighten my day. I’ve exchanged contact information with every last one of them, and I plead for consistent communication.

One of the last things the group of guys said to me was, “Justin, why’re you so nice? You’ve had to deal with all of our sh– and yet you bought us all these T-shirts and stuff, and you don’t rat us out when we’re pulling pranks, and stuff.” They all agreed and just stared at me. I replied, “Life is too short to be mean, and we should all cherish every last person we meet.” They were all quiet, and knowing I hit a serious note, I changed the topic. But I knew they all took what I said to heart.

Oh, and along the way, as they’ve done for years, they learned a lot of journalism.

val_0066

Then there’s all the other people that have helped with Kibler and VAJTA workshops, people like Bobby Hawthorne, Sarah Nichols, Chris Waugaman, Kelly Furnas, Robin Sawyer, Lori Keekley, Mary Strickler, Sue Gill and Brad Jenkins. All leaders in scholastic journalism.

But there were also my college students — and college students from Virginia Tech and James Madison University — who got the opportunity to teach and to expand their skills thanks to Val. Tyler Dukes. Alex Sanchez. Matt Johnson. Kyle Ray O’Donnell. T.J. Maynes. Austin Coffey. Sean Cassidy. Many of these folks are still working in mass media in one form or another.

And there’s Steve Johnson. I’m just not sure where he fits in all this. But we had some good visits thanks to Val. And, as with all the others, the students sure learned a lot from him.

Val brought in some of the best to work with her students and other students in the area. She wanted to challenge her students as much as I — and others — wanted to challenge mine.

Val2

Alex Sanchez at the 2011 workshop at Virginia Tech. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Alex Sanchez at the 2011 workshop at Virginia Tech. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Chad Rummel teaches at the 2009 workshop at Virginia Tech.
Chad Rummel teaches at the 2009 workshop at Virginia Tech.
Sarah Nichols and her yearbook class participate in a team-building activity at the Virginia jCamp held at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Sarah Nichols and her yearbook class participate in a team-building activity at the Virginia jCamp held at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Justin Miller at the 2010 workshop at Virginia Tech.
Justin Miller at the 2010 workshop at Virginia Tech.
Mary Beth Tinker at the Virginia summer workshop at James Madison University, July 14-17, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Mary Beth Tinker at the Virginia summer workshop at James Madison University, July 14-17, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Robin Sawyer at the 2009 Virginia Tech workshop.
Robin Sawyer at the 2009 Virginia Tech workshop.
Tyler Dukes teaches at jCamp 2011 at Virgina Tech.
Tyler Dukes teaches at jCamp 2011 at Virgina Tech.
Steve Johnson takes pictures in Harrisonburg, Virginia in April of 2013.
Steve Johnson takes pictures in Harrisonburg, Virginia in April of 2013.
Sue Gill at the Southern Interscholastic League Press Association conference in Columbia, S.C., March 4-6, 2016. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Sue Gill at the Southern Interscholastic League Press Association conference in Columbia, S.C., March 4-6, 2016. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Brad Jenkins at the Virginia Journalism Camp at James Madison University, July 14, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Brad Jenkins at the Virginia Journalism Camp at James Madison University, July 14, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Lori Keekley discusses writing and reporting at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Lori Keekley discusses writing and reporting at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Kelly Furnas at the 2010 workshop at Virginia Tech.
Kelly Furnas at the 2010 workshop at Virginia Tech.
Brad Jenkins and the 2016 workshop group at James Madison University.
Brad Jenkins and the 2016 workshop group at James Madison University.
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Photo by Bradley Wilson
Chris Waugaman welcomes everyone at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Chris Waugaman welcomes everyone at the VAJTA and JMU summer journalism workshop at James Madison University. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Bobby Hawthorne at Lexington coffee shop. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Bobby Hawthorne at Lexington coffee shop. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Kyle Ray O'Donnell traveled to Harrinsburg in 2010 to help teach photography. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Kyle Ray O'Donnell traveled to Harrinsburg in 2010 to help teach photography. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Sean Cassidy at the Virginia Journalism Camp at James Madison University, July 14, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Sean Cassidy at the Virginia Journalism Camp at James Madison University, July 14, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Matt Johnson, camp counselor. Photo by Bradley Wilson.
Matt Johnson, camp counselor. Photo by Bradley Wilson.
Austin Coffey at the Virginia summer workshop at James Madison University, July 14-17, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson
Austin Coffey at the Virginia summer workshop at James Madison University, July 14-17, 2014. Photo by Bradley Wilson

So, happy birthday Val. The entire scholastic journalism profession is stronger because of you.

1Comment
  • Sue Gill
    Posted at 09:57h, 28 January

    What a wonderful tribute to an outstanding person who has touched so many lives! And thank you for including me as one of her friends!!
    Sue

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