May 11, 2012— “Tell me a story.” That’s the encouragement Sue Blackmon offers to her aspiring journalism and communications students at Klein Forest High School. But according to her students, she gives them so much more.
“She’s the heart of the yearbook!” expressed KFHS seniors Cindy Orellana and Susan Benavente. Blackmon guided Benavente in her plans after graduation, which includes a degree in business and mass communications. “Ms. Blackmon is a very upbeat, understanding, and is constantly helping and encouraging us. She also helped me decide on a degree plan, which classes to take, and gave me direction on what specific areas are available in my career field.”
Blackmon decided in the third grade that she wanted to become a teacher. A native Houstonian, she attended college at Sam Houston State University and received her degree in speech communication and journalism in 1976. She began teaching nearly 32 years ago, 24 of which are at Klein Forest. Blackmon teaches journalism and oversees the Klein Forest yearbook, The Evergreeen, and the student newspaper, The Pinnacle.
“I’ve always been interested in journalism because I’ve always loved to read, write and design,” said Blackmon. “Like Susan, entering college I didn’t know about journalism careers either and I, too, had a great professor who was fun, upbeat and just a joy to learn from. That is the same spirit and feeling I try to give to my students.”
Blackmon is the second consecutive teacher from Klein Forest to garner the Klein ISD Secondary Teacher of the Year honor. She is a certified master educator by the Journalism Education Association, and is constantly finding ways to stay abreast of the latest trends and technology by attending workshops, professional development trainings, and conferences annually. But after more than 32 years, she said it’s the students that keep her young, up-to-date and going.
“Journalism was very different 40 years ago than where it is today,” she expressed. “Talking to these young people and staying abreast of the industry and society in general enables me to be able to offer them the guidance they need. I want my students to be successful and to produce quality publications they can really take ownership in and be proud of.”
Her classes are structurally different than most core subjects taught at the high school level. Blackmon offers students instruction in writing, desktop publishing, photography and research, but the majority of the year is dedicated to the student-run productions of the campus’ yearbook and electronic newsletters. On campus she is renowned for always having a camera in hand, taking pictures for the yearbook to assist her students.
One of the favorite parts of her job is the sense of accomplishment her students feel and the expressions on their faces when they see their names in print on the finished product at the end of the year. During her tenure she has had many students move on to be successful in a variety of careers, including former student and KISD Elementary Teacher of the Year Angela Wrigglesworth.
“I love and adore Sue. She has become a mentor and great friend over the years, and to think that I would be in the same caliber of teacher as her is such an honor,” said Wrigglesworth.
When asked about retirement, she simply states, “I’ll retire when I’m not having fun anymore.” And fortunately for Klein Forest, she doesn’t see that happening anytime soon.
“At the end of each year I ask myself, ‘Have I reached that child? Have I helped them learn something? Have they gained that insight they need to be successful when they graduate high school?’” shared Blackmon. “Several students and people at Klein Forest have blessed my life, and hopefully I’ve had a positive impact on them as well. This is a good place to be, and it feels like home.”