Our instructors are experienced teachers and business professionals skilled in their craft – dedicated to serving youth and their families!
Our teachers provide a combination of lecture – hands-on and personal one on one conferencing with all youth!
Each teacher has a proven successful track record – communicating with youth and is dedicated to making a difference in the life of youth, with a focus on military youth!
Our teams are mobile and travel to reach your youth and volunteers.
One key ingredient to each – is having a “servant’s heart” – that is so focused on giving!
A Backpack Journalist – Staff Biographies
David Knight - Lancaster, South Carolina – Headmaster – Lead instructor
- David Knight is a 30 plus year journalism educator who has traveled the US educating teachers, their students and now National Guard staff and youth. He’s the Public Information Director for the Lancaster School District. He, along with a former TV videographer, established a cable access channel for the school district with students producing the show. Every student in the class has a show that he/she produces. Each year, the station produces more than 200 editions of 50 different shows, and more than 900 members of the community visit the studios as guests on the shows. He spends his mornings at the station teaching journalism, followed by an adjunct journalism professor at the local college. For the past 20 years he’s taught journalism workshops in Texas, Kansas, and all across the nation, and as recent as this past October was a presenter at the Texas Journalism Educators annual fall conference and the lead instructor during a two-day session for Texas Military Forces – Youth, supported by the Texas National Guard Family Support Foundation, during the Volunteer Meeting. David has become a legend and beloved among military youth as he has taught them to “observate”, to “name the dog” and to “find the motif”, and to find their voice through simple writing skills.
Scott Winter – Lincoln, Nebraska – Writer
- Scott Winter is in his sixth year as an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He specializes in feature writing and page design, but has taught everything from social justice journalism to magazine editing. His teaching has also taken him on teaching gigs in Kosovo and Ethiopia. Winter taught high school journalism and English for 10 years in North Dakota, Minnesota and Colorado. His students won national awards, including national Best of Show rankings and Pacemakers. They won Hemingway Awards from the Kansas City Star and two Robert F. Kennedy Foundation Journalism Awards. He’s also taught at national high school journalism workshops and conventions for 15-plus years with David Knight. Scott’s also worked as a professional journalist for five years, working in sports writing, feature writing, graphic design and feature editing. He’s covered NFL football games and has seen the worst and best of the players and got sick while covering his first rodeo (his stomach couldn’t handle the calf-roping); however, today he has been found to enjoy the Texas skyline!
Bobby Hawthorne – Austin, Texas – writer
- Bobby Hawthorne is a writer, writing teacher and adjunct professor in the Michigan State University Department of Journalism. He is the author of The Radical Write, a textbook on reporting and writing for student publications. In 2005, he retired from the University of Texas Interscholastic League, where he served as director of academics and director of journalism. In 2007, he received Carl Towley Award from the Journalism Education Association, its highest honor, and the Charles R. O’Malley Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, based at Columbia University in New York City. Hawthorne is also the author of Longhorn Football: An Illustrated History, published in 2007 by the University of Texas Press. In 2009, he completed writing and designing a 240-page illustrated history of the UIL as part of the League’s 100th anniversary celebration, and wrote the text for a landscape photo book, Home Field, to be published by UT Press in August, 2010.
Teresa M. Nelson – Muncie, Indiana – Writing – Making a difference!
- Terry, with a B.A. and M.A. in Journalism and Theatre, has taught in the classroom for 30 plus years, and while in “retirement” she continues to work with youth making a difference. She has earned a “Lifetime Achievement Award from the Journalism Education Association”, and a known for her innovative outreach concepts for young people. A recipient of the Eli Lilly “Teacher Creativity Award, she lived in Sicily to write. At Ball State, she is in the Journalism Hall of Fame. And, the list continues. She has written curriculum and helped review standards, supervised student teachers and most important of all, she is committed to making a difference in the lives of youth!
Laura Noel – Atlanta, Georgia – Photographer and Installation Artist
- Laura Noel is an Atlanta-based photographer and installation artist. She received a BA in Public Policy Studies from Duke University and a MFA in Photography with Distinction from the University of Georgia. Her prints been featured in exhibitions at the Pingyao International Photography Festival in China, the Contemporary American Photography exhibition at the Internationale Fototage Festival in Mannheim, Germany, Gallery 24 in Berlin, The Rhode Island School of Design Museum, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia, Jackson Fine Art, Lumiere, Davis Orton Gallery, Gallery 1401 in Philadelphia, The Gregg Museum of Art and Design and many others.
- Her photographs have appeared on-line and in print in Photography Now, Photography Quarterly, Hot Shoe International (United Kingdom), PHOTONEWS (Germany), Lens Culture, Planet, Art News Daily, The Humble Arts Foundation, F-Stop Magazine, One One Thousand, SouthXSoutheast, La Lettre de la Photographie, Consciencious, aCurator, Fraction Magazine and many others. Recently her work inaugurated Fall Line Press’ Free Fall series of quarterly magazines featuring the work of one photographer.
- Her artist books are in the collection of the International Center of Photography library in New York, The Houston Museum of Fine Art, The Cleveland Art Institute, The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas and many private collections.
Mike McLean – Dallas, Texas – Photo Journalist & Visual Story Teller
- Mike McLean is Texas-based freelance photojournalist and teaches photojournalism workshops throughout the nation. McLean got his start in photojournalism while in high school where he serviced as photo editor of his school publications which won National Scholastics awards. As a staff photographer for the Dallas Times Herald he served on a reporting team nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the crash of Delta flight 191 at the DFW airport. In 2003 he was inducted into the Journalism Hall of Fame. He is a co-author of Get The Picture, a photojournalism curriculum published by Jostens. Recently McLean developed a digital photography storytelling course that is part of a digital media degree program taught through a University online. He is a featured teacher/speaker throughout the year at Journalism and Photography workshops around the United States and has worked extensively with high school youth along with David Knight. His website shows his wide range of talent and portfolio from portraits to action and commercial photography. His clients include, Motorola, Sony Music, American Airlines and the Discovery Networks. His photography has appeared in publications such as Rolling Stone, Business Week, Outside Magazines, and Climbing Magazine.
Wade Kennedy – Richardson, Texas – Photojournalist
- Wade Kennedy is a high school journalism adviser and a professional freelance photographer. Kennedy has advised yearbook and newspaper classes at Richardson High School in Richardson Texas for three years. Kennedy is a former ILPC Tops in Texas award winner for photography. He has won numerous college and professional photography awards including CSPA, NSPA and TAPME honors. His students have also won numerous state and national yearbook and newspaper awards.
Eduardo Salas – Dallas, Texas – Photojournalist
- Eduardo Salas is Texas-based freelance photojournalist and teaches photojournalism workshops in the Dallas area. Salas has been in the photography industry for the last 15 years paying special attention to journalism, commercial photography, and sports photography. Salas has also worked extensively with Mike McLean in the teaching and developing of regional high school student’s photojournalism skills thru the Dallas County Schools System.
Bryan Stewart – Fayetteville, North Carolina – Photojournalist
- Bryan found his passion for photography while acting as Sports editor and photographer of his high school newspaper. In college he studied photography and has since covered a variety of assignments for several newspapers, magazines and corporations over his career. Bryan enjoys extreme sports and outdoor adventure photography. His images have been featured in documentaries of ice/rock climbing, auto racing and bull riding. He now makes his living as a freelance photographer shooting portraits, weddings, sports and events. Bryan has been a professional photographer for 14 years. He has taught photojournalism workshops for high school and college kids throughout the country for 10 years.
Ray Detwiler – Dallas, Texas – Photojournalist
- Ray initially pursued a career in marketing before venturing out on his own as a freelancer. Though he has only been shooting professionally for 3 years, he has been a passionate photographer since his later years in college. Ray has photographed everything from food to jewelry, from Sr. Portraits to John Madden. He has been involved in teaching workshops since 2009 and gets a big thrill out of the look in a student’s eyes when they start to grasp the kinds of images they can make with their camera. His website is www.radiantsquares.com
Daniel “Masterpiece” Jones – Jackson,Mississippi – Christian Rapper/Performer/Song-writer & Backpack Journalist Music Intern
- Daniel was raised in Europe, with parents in the US Army. Upon return to the United States, Daniel continued his education at college, and worked on his “rap” and writing. He is a regular performer of his original music/songs at Yellow Ribbon Events for the Army Reserve, and A Backpack Journalist. He writes and composes, and performs live. He has a “servant’s heart” and gives of himself to others as a supporting friend and colleague.
Carol Smith, Nashville, Tennessee – Songwriting/Instructor
- Carol Smith is Nashville-based writer and songwriter who have used music with youth in camps, workshops, retreats and classrooms. In 1999, she was voted best folk musician in her hometown of Charlotte, NC. In 2000, her teen novel, Stranger Online (Tommy Nelson), was #1 Children’s Best Seller in CBA Marketplace. She has authored curriculum for youth such as Snap Sessions and Junior Highs Only (Cook Communications), Honesty for Today (Shining Star Publications), and Ready for Life (Tyndale House). Recently, Smith was hired to create a song to represent the National Coalition of Healthcare for the Homeless, and that piece, “A Whole Lot Like Home” is now used in their online tutorial as a training tool. You can hear this song on YouTube.
Josh Bowers – Rock Hill, South Carolina – Songwriter/Instructor
- Born into a family surrounding itself with music, Joshua Matthew Bowers had no option but to get involved. Accompanying the breakfast song of pots and pans’ clang was always James Brown or Otis Redding on the radio. The South Carolina summer evening’s cicada hum was never not challenged by the crooning of his father’s best Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash. The music was the family member who demanded the most attention, and the family was more than happy to provide. At thirteen, Joshua received his first guitar and began writing immediately. The guitar was the vehicle for getting the songs from his head into others’. Once two chords were learned he was only interested in writing songs: The songs he wanted to hear. The songs he wanted to sing. Since, Joshua has played in numerous bands ranging in style from traditional folk to punk rock to hip hop. He has of recent focused on solo songwriting and performing to allow a greater control over his art. He is currently working on a concept album revolving around his family’s hometown, Heath Springs, SC, and the relationships that built and maintain the small Southern town’s sense of identity and worth along with many other projects.
Adam Crowell – Charleston, South Carolina – Songwriter/Instructor
- Adam Crowell grew up off the coast of Charleston, S.C., and studied theater at the Savannah College of Art and Design. After graduating college, he spent six years in Los Angeles acting in television series and movies and playing percussion in bands. In 2010 he returned to Charleston and founded his percussion company, Boxed Music, which blends rhythm and melody with fine art. When not building or playing drums, he enjoys fishing expeditions to far-flung corners of the world, including the Mongolia wilderness and remote stretches of the Amazon River.
- Brendon Culliton is a young aspiring Canadian film maker. His first full length documentary film about soldiers in Afghan War has received numerous awards and recognition including being specifically selected to be shown inside of the Canadian Parliament building to a select audience due. www.ifishouldfall.com.
- As a graduate of the Media Theory and Production: Television Broadcasting, he understands the real impact a piece of art can have on a persons life. He is always open to exploring new styles of production and telling stories in interesting and unique ways. His dedication to his vision is inspiring for those who get to know him and his work. He is also adamantly interested in the education of youth- empowering others to create and share their own stories with the world.
- His current project: Journey To Lucidity is a YOUTUBE hobby project to share on the Internet for free. The film is a look inside of the emerging culture arts and music of the Lucidity Festival 2013 in Santa Ynez, California, April 12-14. The film will take the viewer through the festival and provide numerous interviews along the way. The film is being created for the purpose to inspire people and also introduce alternative themes to promote healthy living, open-mindedness, and the evolution of consciousness. Additional themes include holistic living, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, environmentalism, creative expression, ecological awareness, and more.
Jerry Warren – Griffin, Georgia – Cowboy Poet
- Jerry Warren is a professional entertainer who recites original and classic cowboy poetry and a published author of hundreds of cowboy poetry. He is also a student of the classics dating back to the 1860’s where it had its beginnings. Jerry has been writing and reciting for over 50 years and is often found at poetry gatherings all over the United States, from Elko, Nevada to the heart of Florida’s cow country. Warren also assists in programs and seminars on the writing and recitation of cowboy poetry for the young people in Georgia and throughout the United States. In 2002, the Georgia legislature named him Georgia’s Official Cowboy Poet. In 2004, he was enshrined in the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame, the only cowboy poet ever honored as such. Jerry Warren hails from the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee where his family raised cattle and horses for five generations. Add this pedigree to life on the rodeo circuit as a calf roper and bronc’ buster and you uncover a real cowboy, a poet who has experienced what he writes about. Jerry owns and operates a horse ranch near Griffin, GA where he raised, trains and sells quarter horse and plies his trade as the foremost cowboy poet in Georgia
Daniel Deering – Norman, Oklahoma – Technology & Editorial Cartoonist
- Daniel was awarded Certificate of Merit from Columbia’s Scholastic Press Association for Editorial Cartoon portfolio. He is a former National Guardsman, having served two deployments (Iraq and Bosnia), during which he exhibited leadership and training skills. He has a broad knowledge of all multimedia applications, with a focus on website design and creative idea development. With his military experience and journalism education and knowledge of the “backpack tools”, Daniel’s talent supports our work with the youth, as well as he oversees the product development of the Yellow Ribbon Star, online newspaper. He is a journalism graduate of University of Oklahoma. Daniel also leads the teaching team with technology experience to include all networking applications and computer lab construction. www.danieldeering.com
Kathy Grant – O’Donnell, Texas – Facilitator
- Kathy actively worked with families as a volunteer with the Texas National Guard Family Readiness Group. She attended at two national workshops and has participated in the National Guard Family Action Planning for two years in Washington, DC. She has trained in Guard Family Team Building and has worked with Military One Source for the command of the 56th Brigade Combat Team and supported directly the Battalion leader for the deployment of the 56th BCT. Kathy has worked as an advisor to the other FRG groups, helping assist in planning, conducting and speaking at meetings. In her community she volunteers with Boy Scouts of America as den leader for the local troop, is active in many areas of her local church, worked with World Changers to help the disadvantaged with needed home repairs. Kathy is the wife of a 28 year veteran, Bill and mother of 3, Portia, Chambry and Patrick.
Dr. Frederic J. Medway - Columbia, South Carolina – ADVISOR/Curriculum.
- Dr. Medway is a Professor Emeritus: University of South Carolina, PhD in Social Psychology, University of Connecticut. Adjunct Professor: Department of Pediatrics, University of South Carolina Medical School; Affiliated faculty member: Institute for Families in Society. CREDENTIALS AND CERTIFICATES: Certified School Psychologist, Level III, South Carolina, Nationally Certified School Psychologist, Licensed School Psychologist, South Carolina, and Academy for Leadership Development, 1999 New Dean’s Institute. He is the published author in hundreds of articles, books and newsprint. He has appeared on CNN and FOX News when the subject matter relates to military families and the effects of deployment on families.
Linda Dennis – Austin, Texas & Atlanta, Georgia:
Program Manager/Journaling/Instructional Writing
- Linda Dennis is a published author of instructional technology projects and educational activities for youth. As editor, then publisher working with Primedia Special Interest Group, she developed the first computer based arts activities for consumers, then computer based lesson plans and training for teachers. As a result of her community service, she became known as the “magazine lady” for inner city at-risk and military youth at sumer camps. Following this service, she began working with OSD COMREL and supporting America Supports You and developed a series of projects and software to support military youth during the deployment cycle (Take your children to work day, Connect & Join, Military Forces Connect.com, monthofthemilitarychild.com). In 2006, seeing a need to help military youth communicate with their deployed parents, she developed the concept: A Backpack Journalist. Following two years of market research and a pilot test funded by a foundation, Dennis partnered with David Knight, a 30-year writing and broadcast journalism teacher. Today, A Backpack Journalist provides curriculum for the student and staff and presented in workshops includes: Narrative writing, Journalistic writing, Photojournalism, Songwriting, Broadcast Journalism, Cowboy Poetry, Little Backpackers and Digital Storytelling/Film making and 36 instructors and trained interns to help military youth find their voice. Building resilience through creative expression.Currently, Dennis runs the COVER THE ASSIGNMENT – News Literacy program for A Backpack Journalist which provides a “real life experience” for the military youth. It is the “news gathering” part of A Backpack Journalist!
Colonel James L. “Scotty” Scott, II, Logistics
- Colonel (retired) Scott is the past Executive Director of the Yellow Ribbon Program and Director, Individual and Family Support Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs (Manpower and Personnel) at the Pentagon, Washington DC. He is a past member of the Missouri Army National Guard. Scotty received Bachelor of Arts (1971) and Master of Arts (1972) degrees from Pittsburg State University majoring in Speech with specialties in Theater Arts, Technical Theater and Junior College Education. In 1987 he was selected to serve as an Assistant Professor of Military Science at the University of Missouri Columbia. In 1990 he was transferred to Washington, DC, to work for the Army National Guard Directorate in a number of manpower and personnel support positions. In 1997 he was selected to work for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs where he served until his retirement. Scotty completed the World Laughter Tour Certified Laughter Leader (CLL) class in September 2002 and the Advanced Class in November of the same year. Shortly after, he was asked to join the CLL Faculty known as the “Poobahs.” He enjoys sharing the joys and benefits of laughter with anyone who will listen, but especially military members, their families and their supporters. Scotty is employed on a limited basis with A Back Pack Journalist program assisting military youth to find their voice to express their feelings about having a deployed family member.
For further information on how to bring in A Backpack Journalist to your state/unit:
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