2020 IJEA Administrator of the Year Award: Principal Eric Hurelbrink’s award ceremony


photo by Robert Le Cates

Principal Eric Hurelbrink holds his award in his office. Hurelbrink was awarded the IJEA (Illinois Journalism Education Association) Administrator of the Year for 2020 and only 12 people in the past 25 years have received this award.

The District 15 News staff, virtually joined by Linda Jones (IJEA Executive Director) and IJEA intern and Roosevelt University student, Jessica Hernandez, awarded Hurelbrink the IJEA Administrator of the Year Award for 2020 during class on Feb. 8. 

“The journalism program we have, I’ve had the chance to witness its growth from the beginning to now,” Hurelbrink said. “So the nice thing for me is to have gotten to play a part in it.”

Sheila Moore, the publications advisor of 15 years, nominated Hurelbrink for his involvement with the program.

“He may not always agree with our decisions, but he works to find common ground. That is ultimately why I nominated him,” Journalism Moore said. “He is able to give our journalism program room to grow, and he trusts us to know how to follow the best journalistic practices.”

Over the past 25 years, the IJEA has held the Administrator of the Year Award but only 12 administrators have received the honor.

“We also do awards to other people who have been highly supportive of student journalism,” Jones said. “One of those awards is the Administrator of the Year Award where we recognize administrators, mostly principals, who have done things and made a huge difference in student journalism programs.”

One thing that secured his award was his in-depth involvement in the student journalism program. 

“Actions like these allow students to function as real journalists and that’s what we’re after,” Jones said.

Other factors that helped him receive his award:

  • Scheduling the journalism class period at the end of the day so students could have time to interview others during study hall.
  • Allowing students to leave the building to interview members of the community.
  • Holding press conferences with student journalists.

“I’ve always thought it was important to lend support to that program and have the kids have the opportunity to do through journalism,” Hurelbrink said. “It’s not that core math or that core science, it’s given them a chance to be expressive and given them a chance to really do something in our curriculum that I think they can enjoy.”

Hurelbrink shook hands with Moore then expressed gratitude.

“Thank you very much. I am very appreciative of this award,” Hurelbrink said.