The Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) has named Ray Westbrook its 2021 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year. Ray serves as St. Mark's journalism instructor and publications advisor and holds the Gene and Alice Oltrogge Master Teaching Chair. Ray was selected by a panel of distinguished advisors from among 17 teachers who were national finalists.
“No one is a better fit for this award. I can only thank Mr. Westbrook for elevating our journalism program,” said Josh Mysore ’21, Editor-in-Chief of this year’s Marksmen yearbook. “I am the man I am today thanks to Mr. Westbrook’s steady guidance as a journalism teacher, publications adviser, and genuine confidant.”
Since arriving in 2001, Ray has transformed St. Mark’s journalism into a nationally renowned program. Under his leadership, The ReMarker
student newspaper, Focus
magazine, and Marksmen
yearbook have received dozens of national awards
and are among the most highly recognized high school publications. The ReMarker
holds the record for most consecutive Gold Crown awards, having received the CSPA's highest honor for the past 17 years. Ray’s unparalleled talent as a journalism educator is also evident in the numerous accolades earned by his students. The Journalism Education Association has named a Marksman the Texas High School Journalist of the Year for the past eight consecutive years, including a national winner in 2019
. Last November, Ray received the Pioneer Award
, the highest honor given to journalism educators by the National Scholastic Press Association.
“Mr. Westbrook’s passion and dedication have made St. Mark’s journalism into what it is today,” said Cristian Pereira ’21, Editor-in-Chief of Focus magazine. “He dedicates an absurd amount of time to ensure that every publication, every page, and every word is up to St. Mark’s standards. Mr. Westbrook is so deserving of this recognition. He has inspired me and countless other students to pursue excellence in journalism.”
In its press release announcing Teacher of the Year, the CSPA included accolades from members of its advisory panel, including Kathleen Zwiebel, Chair of Judging Standards: “Ray celebrates his students’ creativity while making sure they adhere to journalistic principles. He helps his writers to find their voice and to learn the duty of the craft. Ray’s lessons about commitment, teamwork, and self-motivation will follow them the rest of their lives.”
The National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year Awards program is managed by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and co-sponsored by the Dow Jones News Fund, with additional support from the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and The Wall Street Journal.