2003 Charles R. O'Malley Award citation for Merle Dieleman
Our honoree spent 34 years advising student newspapers and yearbooks at three different Iowa high schools. He advised 34 yearbooks and 33 newspapers without ever having a journalism production class. He earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in English but never took a journalism class until after he started teaching.
Beginning his career in 1965 at his first school, Adair-Casey Community High School, he taught 7 classes and 6 preps while also advising the yearbook and speech programs. The next year he moved to Montezuma High School where he spent the next 19 years advising a school newspaper published as a page in the local community newspaper as well as the school’s yearbook. From 1984 to his retirement in 1999, he taught and advised both newspaper and yearbook at Pleasant Valley High School, also in Iowa.
From 1978 onward, he was involved with the Iowa High School Press Association where he has served as an officer of one type or another since 1980. A past president of the organization, he currently serves as its vice president. He was also an officer of the Columbia Scholastic Press Advisers Association from 1990 through 2001, serving as recording secretary, vice president, president and past president. His contributions to these organizations always included a strong support of First Amendment rights of students.
In 1996 the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund named him as its National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year. And 1997 he became the first American high school journalism teacher to teach at a student workshop in a formerly Eastern bloc country when he journeyed to Slovakia for the Independent Journalism Foundation. This became the first of six teaching stints over a 5 year period in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, where he participated in a teacher training workshop sponsored for advisers from 24 different countries in Eastern Europe and Asia as far east as Mongolia.
For a lifelong dedication to the highest qualities of student journalism both here and abroad, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association is honored to present Merle Dieleman with its Charles R. O’Malley Award for Excellence in Teaching for 2003.
Given at Columbia University in the City of New York, March 21, 2003.
This citation was written and presented by Edmund J. Sullivan, executive director of the Association.