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Ohio Teacher of the Year says honor is second to his students' national awards for journalism

Mark Lowrie

Mark Lowrie, the 2024 Ohio Teacher of the Year, teaches broadcast journalism at Gahanna Lincoln High School.

Lowrie says while the honor is “huge,” it is the second most outstanding event of his career. Last year, his students won three national student Emmy Awards for their work.

"It was the white whale I've been chasing my whole career, was the national student Emmy for newscast and for them to get that," Lowrie said. “That, to me, outranks even being the Ohio Teacher of the Year."

Lowrie studied journalism as an undergraduate student at Ohio University. He worked in television news for 12 years as a production assistant, news editor and sports producer. Then he decided to get a teaching license. He says his background helps him prepare students for the real world.

"Our whole TV program prepares kids from the very basics of how to hold a video camera to editing and interviewing and putting together news packages. And it all kind of builds from the intro class to the top level, which is our Lincoln Live show, which again is four days a week at 9:15, (and goes) live to the whole school."

About 130 students are enrolled in Lowrie’s journalism classes.

"We do a live 11-minute newscast, four days a week here at Gahanna Lincoln,” says Lowrie. “And so, it's live. No tape delay. Students see, when you do great work, the whole school watches when you make mistakes. So, the kids work under pressure. They get out and they cover school events. They do interviews."

Lowrie studied at the University of Akron to earn a Master’s degree in education. He says the technological advances in broadcast journalism since he started his career make every year of teaching different.

“My challenge every year is how do I stay two steps ahead of the kids? Because…they want the latest technology,” says Lowrie. “They want to use the latest social media apps. You know, and as a guy in my 50s, now I have to work year-round to stay ahead of them. But there also are times when the kids might learn something faster than I do, and I don't have so much pride that I'm offended by that. I want to learn from them.”

Lowrie says he wants students interested in journalism for all the right reasons. He says while the field is constantly changing, there are still many open opportunities.

"I tell them when they leave here, you've got to love it, because if you don't love it, this is a tough business,” says Lowrie. “You got to have thick skin. You're going to be criticized. You've got to really have that desire to be able to. A major in this. And if you think it's just for fun, you should probably do something else."

For the next year, Lowrie’s duties as the 2024 Ohio Teacher of the Year will include representing teachers across the state at various professional development conferences. He will also meet with other state winners from across the country and advocate for teachers’ issues.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.