Columbia Scholastic Press Association
Phone: (212) 854-9400
CSPA is affiliated with the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in the City of New York.
Charles R. O'Malley Award
Wayne M. Brasler
Citation by CSPA Executive Director Edmund J. SullivanWayne Brasler for the Charles R. O’Malley Award for Excellence in Teaching
Proud son of the Midwest, he followed the example of a beloved high school teacher into a lifelong career as teacher and adviser to student newspapers and yearbooks. His example of patient dedication and the continuous pursuit of excellence have long ago transcended regional boundaries. He has become a national treasure to several generations of teachers and students in the nation’s schools.
For nearly half a century, he has inspired students at the Laboratory School of the University of Chicago into producing perhaps the most consistently award-winning student publications in the nation. In the words of one of his former student editors, “Mr. Brasler’s success was that he kept his hands on the writing, and his hands off the paper. “ More than 300 alumni of his program have pursued journalism as a career in one form or another.
A master storyteller, he could well be described as the modern-day Bard of Scholastic Journalism. He keeps the best of our traditions alive by both word and deed. But the story telling is not his only means of teaching beyond the four walls of his school. For nearly four decades, he was the guiding spirit behind the newspaper guidelines for the National Scholastic Press Association. He continued to fine tune those standards as student journalism grew and matured, affected by dramatic changes in technology and culture. Yet he never held himself exclusively to one organization or the other but enjoyed and assisted all of them.
In honor of his never-ending quest for journalistic excellence and his inspiring example as teacher, adviser and sage, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association is privileged to present Wayne Brasler with its Charles R. O’Malley Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Bio for Wayne M. BraslerGrowing up on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri, in the 1940s, Wayne Brasler edited his first newspaper for summer camp at the age of nine.
After his family moved to the suburb of Normandy, he encountered one of the most celebrated high school newspapers in the nation, the Normandy Courier, and under the mentorship of his journalism teacher, Mary Still, he knew by the age of 16 he wanted to be a journalist and a high school journalism adviser.
At Harris Junior College in St. Louis he became design editor of the campus newspaper, the Collegian, the first semester of his freshman year, and then managing editor, and the paper received the only Gold Medalist award in its history from CSPA.
At the University of Missouri School of Journalism he specialized in film coverage, a music column and editorials. After graduation he returned to St. Louis for his first job, editing a weekly suburban paper. At night he took education courses at Washington University in preparation for teaching.
Then heard from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, which he didn’t even know existed, which was seeking to start a journalism program in its high school. He arrived there in September, 1964, and has been there ever since.
Since his arrival the U-High paper, the Midway, has won 14 CSPA Gold Crowns, nine NSPA National Pacemakers, and dozens of best-in-nation story, photography and advertising awards, beginning with a 13-year-streak of American Newspaper Publishers Association awards, as many as three in one year.
A marathon judge for NSPA’s critical service, in 1968 he was asked to take over that organization’s newspaper judging guidelines booklet, which he continued to revise for almost four decades. Along the way he received CSPA’s Gold Key, NSPA’s Pioneer Award and the Dow-Jones News Fund’s National Journalism Teacher of the Year award. He has written dozens of magazine articles on high school journalism and contributed to many textbooks. He also served as vice president of CSPAA for several years.
“Every school I ever went to was built on the John Dewey model of learning by doing, and in fact I have now taught nearly 50 years in the school John Dewey founded. It’s the way I’ve always taught and it works.
CSPA is an international student press association, founded in 1925, whose goal is to unite student journalists and faculty advisers at schools and colleges through educational conferences, idea exchanges, textbooks, critiques and award programs.