Hands on Scholastic Journalism for youth!

A Backpack Journalist

Our Instructors

Our instructors are experienced teachers and business professionals skilled in their craft,  dedicated to serving youth and their families!  Our focus is on “Scholastic Journalism!”, and we are committed to help each young person find their voice, and then to become a great storyteller!

Our teachers provide a combination of lecture – hands-on and personal one on one conferencing with all youth! Often we work late into the evening!

Each teacher has a proven successful track record – communicating with youth and is dedicated to making a difference in the life of youth! And if writing is not their chosen path of self-expression, then we offer the lyrics (for song), the camera for visual imaging and Cowboy Poetry and of course film making.

Our teams are mobile and travel to reach youth, and do so today, at educational venues!  (Check out our online store for our two new books!)

One key ingredient to each – is having a “servant’s heart” – that is so focused on giving

A Backpack Journalist – Staff Bio’s
Journalistic Writing
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.


 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.

 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.  

Film Making  – Storytelling – Documentaries


HDK Grafix – Hezikah Razor

Expert video editing/music design.

SIGNS OF CHARLESTON – video editor, and consultant to multimedia: “PEOPLE” projects.

Brandon Culliton – Ottawa, Canada – Film maker/boot camp instructor

  • 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.

Cowboy Poetry
 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

Editorial Cartooning
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.

Program Manager/Founder
Linda Dennis
– Austin, Texas & Atlanta, Georgia:
Program Manager/Journaling/Instructional Writing

  • Linda Dennis is a writer and  published author of instructional technology projects and educational activities for youth.  Her background is in product development, and in completing the process with expert instructions written for the average consumer.   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, traveling the United States, with a developed  series of projects and software to support military youth during the deployment cycle (Take your children to work day, Connect & Join, monthofthemilitarychild.com).  The “backpack program” served many National Guard Youth Symposiums and continued to provide writing and creative expression support.   When the drawdown came for our miltiary, Dennis returned to Charleston, SC, home for her, and immediately became involved in the after school programming for the Charleston Promise Neighborhood (at risk populations)  with a Scholastic Journalism curriculum she developed for 3rd to 5th grades. Following the first year, Team Backpack Journalists moved the program to the City of Charleston, City Parks, opening it’s doors to all the children of Charleston.  Dennis expanded,  as Program Manager,  COVER THE ASSIGNMENT – News Literacy  which provides a “real life experience” for all youth and the “What’s your story?” events. During these past two years, Dennis has managed also the Cars & Parts program, a stem based project in partnership with Hendrick Automotive of Charleston and North Charleston,  managed one on one interviews and experiences for the “team backpackers” with Pauletta Washington, Bakari Sellers, Pharrell, Ken Burns and Skip Gates, the Mayoral Candidates for City of Charleston, Mike Veeck & The RiverDogs, Mayor Joe Riley, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Mr. Rick Hendrick and Mayor John Tecklenburg, as well as a field trip the SC State House.  One of the outcomes Dennis supervises are the “books” that the “backpackers” write and contribute to.  To date:  Nature Storytelling (National Parks – Florissant Monument),  Baseball, The RiverDogs and the Life of Larry Doby, and Cars & Parts). 
  • Currently, Dennis is Creative Director and Producer of [email protected]  With over 90 Charleston County Students signed up for a Young Film Makers Academy, the goal is to bring a writing and film making curriculum and hands on experience to 4th to 8th grade students in the inner city and throughout the district.  The screening of these short films and documentaries completed by the students, are to be presented at THE JOE, along with the first – JACKIE ROBINSON – a Ken Burns’ Florentine Films, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, Directors/ Producers.

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:
[email protected] 

Hands on Scholastic Journalism for youth!
Our Instructors