Spotlight on Heather Jancoski, Class of 2009
By Rick Vacek
GCU Today Magazine
In just one year, Heather Jancoski has shown her students at South Mountain High in Phoenix that persistence can be glamorous in broadcast journalism.
The 2009 GCU graduate (M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Technology) had barely walked through the classroom door when she had a dozen disciples (“Our own little mini-family”) producing Jaguar News, a weekly television program about happenings on campus.
Not long after, Jancoski’s determination to make contact with the Public Broadcasting Service paid off in a collaboration on school safety with PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs. “The things you taught us — that’s what we’re doing!” her students told her.
“To see it on the national news was great for them, too,” she said. The learning process continued with Jancoski’s insistence that her class develop social media skills to apply the proper analytics to those communications. And that optimized a mash-up of story ideas.
For her efforts, Jancoski, 33, was honored in the Creative Media category in Cox Communications’ 2015 Connect2STEM Awards, and even that had a side benefit: An assisted-living home wants her students to do a video about the facility and mentor residents on producing their own stories.
But the Avondale resident mainly is focused on having her students ferret out stories on the culturally diverse South Mountain campus. “I just feel like these kids have so many stories to tell,” she said, adding, “People ask me, ‘You’ve been teaching only one year and you’ve done all this already — what are you going to do next year?’”
Sounds like a tease for the evening news. Only this teacher is all about much more than happy talk.