Broadcast alum named Teacher of the Year, his students have won 79 Emmy Awards
Scripps alum Mark Lowrie (BSC ’89) was recently named Ohio Teacher of the Year. After working 12 years in television news, Lowrie switched to teaching broadcast journalism to high school students.
His students have won 79 regional and seven national student Emmy Awards including three national Emmy Awards in 2022, the most nationwide.
“My students are getting hands-on, authentic learning experiences while making their school (Gahanna Lincoln High School) a better place for all students. What could be better than that,” Lowrie said.
In this Q&A with Scripps alum Ken Klein, Lowrie explains his training at Ohio University and migration to teaching, and shares insights on the college-selection process.
Klein: Describe your training at Ohio University and your entry into news broadcasting.
Lowrie: I worked at ACRN Radio and eventually Athens Video Works which produced the TV coverage for some OHIO sports. There were a lot of us in the program, so we alternated games. I did play-by-play and color commentary for some OHIO football and men’s and women’s basketball games.
Six months after graduation, I landed a production assistant job at WSYX-TV (Channel 6) in Columbus and also worked a part time job to make ends meet. I ran teleprompters, chyron and studio cameras and eventually became a news assistant and then news editor. My real interest was sports; I volunteered in the sports department on my off days and weekends, so I was in prime position when a sports producer job opened. I worked in sports at WSYX for a few years and eventually moved down the street as a sports producer at WBNS-TV (Channel 10).
My next job, in Cleveland, highlights the ups and downs of the business. I was excited — speechless — to move home as sports producer at WOIO/WUAB-TV, to get paid to cover the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers. Two months later, the Browns announced their move to Baltimore . . . I was completely destroyed, as a sports fan and as a producer at a TV station.
Klein: What drew you to teaching?
Lowrie: I gradually became disenchanted working in sports. I was volunteering coaching football at my alma mater, Bay High School in Bay Village, and my old high school football coach, Tom Kaiser, said, “You know, some schools are adding TV programs. Maybe you could teach TV at a high school.”
That changed my life. I had NEVER considered being a teacher. I went back to school to get my teaching license and a master’s degree at the University of Akron. During my first field experience, I knew I was in the right place. I loved being in a school and working with the kids. I still had a passion for TV and teaching was a way to pass on that passion.
I worked 18 years at Marion L. Steele High School in Amherst (west of Cleveland) and now I’m in my fifth year at Gahanna Lincoln. I moved because I started dating someone from Columbus; two years later Celina and I got married.
Klein: Your students at Gahanna Lincoln won three national Emmy Awards in one year (National Student Production Awards from the Foundation of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences). How do they stand out in competition?
Lowrie: We produce a live, 11-minute daily show (approximately 120 shows per year).
I teach our main news class, Lincoln Live, that won a national award. I also teach Sports Broadcasting and we produce the Lincoln Sports Zone. That, too, won the National Student Emmy. Again, to win it once is a huge accomplishment, but to win it within 20 minutes of winning Best Newscast is still hard to wrap my head around. I’m so incredibly proud of my students. We also won the National Student Emmy for a video essay that was produced by Audrey Paquette, who is now a student at Ohio University.
(Paquette and colleagues at WOUB won the 2023 College Emmy Award for Sports Story/Segment for “Hardwood Heroes,” Season 13 Episode 6.)
I tell students and parents that TV broadcasting is a tough business. Everything takes more time than anybody can imagine and, in this day and age, they have to be able to handle instant criticism. That being said, they’ll learn technical skills, communication skills, and how to work in a pressure-filled deadline-driven atmosphere and that will benefit students regardless of their college major.
Klein: Can you share insights about the college-selection process?
Lowrie: There are a lot of great college broadcasting programs like Kent State and Ball State. I try not to go out of my way to push my students towards Ohio University, but they do know that I graduated from there and how much I love Athens and the Scripps College of Communication.
We’ve been sending four or five kids a year to Ohio University. I always tell them before they leave that they are definitely starting with a head-start in the race versus kids from other high schools, but if they don’t hit the ground running their lead will shrink quickly.
What makes Scripps special is the people, who are so accommodating. That includes the Dean (Scott Titsworth) who visited my high school, and he is very approachable. Ohio University’s combination of great facilities, incredible faculty and a friendly atmosphere is hard to beat.
Klein: You were a 2022 Scripps Communication Fellow. How did you use the grant money?
Lowrie: My Scripps grant purchased a license for Hootsuite which gives my students the ability to pre-schedule posts and post content to multiple social media platforms instantaneously.
We also used some of the grant to do professional development training with the construction of a new journalism department website that our print and broadcast programs will share.