Adviser of Note Susan Massy, Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Shawnee, Kansas
Susan Massy has been advising yearbooks for more than 30 years, and most of that has been at her current school. Yearbooks produced under her guidance have won many awards. In this interview with Jim Jordan, Massy discusses how much she struggled her first year, what made her come back to a second year, and the one big thing that made her yearbook experience better. In this interview, she recalled how she learned that yearbooks can be a true journalistic endeavor.
In the interview, she shares how inspiring her students can be, and how much she loves watching them be creative and problem-solve. Her big advice for fellow yearbook advisers is: “We need to learn to coach, not just manage.”
You can’t have an interview in 2020 without addressing what a crazy year it’s been. Massy and Jordan discuss the ways the impactful year has affected her yearbook. When they learned that spring sports were cancelled, they replaced it with COVID-19 coverage. Watching her students juggle all the changes helped Massy identify who would be her leaders for the 2021 school year.
As the staff prepares for the 2021 book, they’re having what Massy calls both “freakout moments” and “aha moments.” Massy says their biggest challenge at the moment is putting together a yearbook ladder. They’ve increased their summer coverage, and are crowdsourcing for both photos and story ideas. They’re using several different mediums to collect these from the student body.
Massy shared her predictions for the 2021 yearbook. “I think our yearbook will have more first-person stories than we’ve ever had. I think we’ll have more people writing for us or with us than we ever have. So much of the content is going to have to come from beyond the staff.”
They’ll be letting preconceived notions of what a yearbook “should be” fall away, and allowing this year’s book to take a new form that works with the current situation.