Diana Hadley · 2016
In a long, narrow office in the Pulliam School of Journalism at Franklin College, Diana Hadley answers a couple dozen phone calls in a typical year from high school journalism advisers seeking some type of help or mediation.
Though it is not part of her formal job description as executive director of the Indiana High School Press Association, Hadley, a 33-year veteran of high school classrooms and newsrooms and a 13-year vet of collegiate journalism, drives her car across Indiana to assist teachers and advisers as they struggle with freedom of press issues, hassles with administrators and rudiments of journalism.
Small in stature but large in heart and knowledge, Hadley a goes about mediating sticky situations with a calming smile, a kind word and a reassuring demeanor.
Her predecessor at Franklin College and IHSPA, Dennis Cripe, said, “I can tell you that it’s not uncommon for Hadley to meet individually with advisers from Fort Wayne to Evansville. Out of these countless hours of listening and meeting with advisers, she instituted the concept of regional workshops that would offer a day of technical and journalistic instruction for advisers in need of training or networking.”
Hadley’s first career, that of teaching high school English, speech and journalism, was an outstanding one at Mooresville High School. After earning her bachelor’s degree at Purdue in 1971, with no journalism courses or experience but with plenty of clarinet playing in the Purdue band, she was assigned by the Mooresville principal to teach a journalism class and advise the school newspaper. He told her, “The kids do all the work.” It turned out that journalism was the most challenging class that year.
Hadley said, “It was the best thing I did and it was a happy accident.” She discovered that the journalism students did better in their writing assignments than non-journalism students did in their English classes because the writing was so purposeful. It was product-oriented, and students learned many leadership qualities as a result.
Smitten by the values and techniques involved in teaching journalism, Hadley embarked on an eight-year quest to earn a master’s degree in journalism (1980) from Indiana University. Through the insistence of her adviser, Mary Benedict, the school offered special graduate courses after 4 p.m. so that Hadley and another teacher from the Indianapolis area could attend.
During her years at Mooresville, she advised the newspaper all 33 years, was yearbook adviser for 23 years and advised the television news outlet for 10 years. The latter began when Channel One brought TV equipment into the school in exchange for students viewing a 12-minute broadcast each day. What Hadley did was put the equipment to even better use by teaching a broadcast class that created the morning and end-of-day announcements. Hadley came to school at 6:30 a.m. daily to supervise the students.
In the early days of her newspaper advising, she sought the help of the local Mooresville newspaper editor, who opened the backshop for students to use on weekends for typesetting and layout. With the help of a colleague in the vocational program, they printed the paper at school.
In recognition of her excellence in the classroom and in media labs, the IHSPA awarded her the Ella Sengenberger Adviser of the Year Award in 1986; the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund named her a Distinguished Adviser of the Year in 1996; and she was a finalist in 2000 for the Indiana Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year.
After retiring from Mooresville, Hadley took a part-time job at Franklin College in 2004 as assistant director of the IHSPA and as a part-time instructor in the Pulliam School of Journalism. She organized annual conventions on the Franklin campus and started a First Amendment Day at the Statehouse each March in which up to 400 high school students observe the legislative process, particularly sessions pertaining to freedom of the press.
She also coordinated the evaluation of several hundred newspapers and yearbooks that served as the basis for statewide honors each year.
An advocate for student journalism and its sometimes-tenuous place in some schools’ curricula, Hadley made alliances with personnel in the State Department of Education. “She fought hard to rally support for new academic standards that would elevate journalism courses to Core 40 status,” Cripe said.
“Diana rallied people around the idea that journalism education ought to be a valid and necessary part of any high school curriculum. In doing so, she restored a sense of pride among advisers and confidence among students who simply wanted their journalism courses to count,” he added.
Hadley has taught for more than 30 summers at Indiana University’s High School Journalism Institute, where she also headed the newspaper curriculum. She has been a regular contributor to conferences and workshops at Ball State University. At Franklin College, she and a co-author wrote a book based on a class they developed called The Peace Class.
Hadley has been honored by the Indiana State Teachers Association, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the Indiana Department of Education, the Independent Colleges of Indiana and the Woman’s Press Club of Indiana/National Federation of Press Women
She has been on the Earlham College Board of Trustees, a steering committee member of two national conventions of the National Scholastic Press Association/Journalism Education Association (1990, 2016), the American Friends Service Committee Indianapolis Board and the Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation Board.
Underlying her many career achievements is the personality and value system that she brings to her work. Jim Lang, a journalism educator at Floyd Central High School, said, “What makes Diana special … is the genuine impact she has on people. I have never met a single person who knows her who does not love her. She has the remarkable ability to make people better simply by being herself. Her knowledge, compassion and empathy make both the journalism and education fields better.”
— by Jack Dvorak, journalism professor emeritus, Indiana University