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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 6, 2004

High School Journalism Teacher Honored At IHSPA Conferences

Deb Buttleman Malcolm, journalism teacher at Central High School, Davenport, was presented the Rod Vahl Teacher of the Year Award for excellence in teaching journalism.

Each year, IHSPA presents one of its most prestigious awards, the Vahl Award, to a journalism teacher in the state who has practiced excellence in teaching and the advising of school newspapers and/or yearbooks.

The award is named in honor of Rod Vahl, long-time high school journalism teacher and adviser from Davenport. Vahl was National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year and former IHSPA president and officer.

IHSPA noted it was gratifying to see Vahl's tradition of journalism excellence has continued on at Central High School with Malcolm.

Malcolm was presented the award Oct. 6 at the IHSPA Fall State Conference at the Iowa Memorial Union of the University of Iowa. The conference was attended by more than 400 high school journalism students and teachers, mainly from Eastern Iowa. She was also elected vice-president for special projects during elections held at the State Conference and the Regional Conference Oct. 18 at Drake University, Des Moines.

In his letter nominating Malcolm for the award, former student editor Brian Burton called her "selfless" and an "advocate for student rights and freedom of expression."

"She has had an impact on many students' lives, myself in particular," he continued. "When I was a struggling sophomore, she saw something that none of the other teachers did. She told me 'You know you can write.' All it took was positive encouragement to get me back on the right path."

Malcolm's compassion has led many students to success. She has a passion for leading troubled students on the right path, according to IHSPA Executive Director Vanessa Shelton of the Univeristy of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences School of Journalism and Mass Communication. "Her fiery determination to teach under the most difficult and challenging conditions, including substandard building conditions, such as leaking ceilings and failing technology. Yet, she has persevered and thrived, and expanded her reach to teach journalism in Brazil and to elementary and junior high school students in Davenport through an innovative summer journalism academy.

"I've worked with Deb Buttleman Malcolm the past six years conducting this academy, a partnership with the University of Iowa," Shelton added. "It has been nationally recognized by the association of journalism schools for its innovative approach to journalism education. Deb is a key component to its success."

Burton said that Malcolm provided a positive example of leadership to her students, particularly in the area of civic responsibility.

Said Malcom of receiving the reward, "Three years ago, I would have never imagined that I would be the 2004 Iowa High School Journalist of the Year."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Vanessa Shelton, 319-353-3318,