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Yearbook Hero Joy Halverson: Keeping Positive During Changes

Joy Halverson

TreeRing Yearbook Heroes is a monthly feature focusing on yearbook adviser tips and tricks.

The understatement of the year: the pandemic has drastically changed things for many people, especially for teachers and their students. Teachers re-created their pedagogy. They worked to not only remain positive for their own mental health, but also as a example to their students. And then there were the ongoing uncertainties. One yearbook adviser modeled a semblance of normalcy through her yearbook program.

Meet Joy Halverson, a P.E. instructor at Aliso Viejo’s Journey School, a public charter school for grades K-8 in Orange County, California. Joy has been teaching at Journey School for 20 years, and her kids attended there too. The school has always been a unique, art-centered school that prides itself on its students’ contributions to creating a more sustainable world. With the pandemic, though, many students did schoolwork completely remote or only came in a few times a week.

Joy was eager to find a way to capture the year in an environmentally-friendly and memorable way and did so through a customizable yearbook via TreeRing. Below are tips about how Joy captured this non-traditional year in Journey School’s yearbook.

How did the pandemic affect the yearbook advising process for Journey School?

With so many students working from home, there were changes that needed to be made in order to truly capture their lives this past year. I’m a creative person at heart, so I wanted to ensure that the yearbook reflected the many ways our students pivoted, showed grit, learned, and still managed to have fun.

Fortunately with TreeRing, I was able to continue making the yearbook from home. The book captures each student’s memories from this past year so that years from now, they’ll look back and see all that they accomplished despite the obstacles thrown our way.

What advising tips do you have for getting creative in capturing student memories in the yearbook?

For starters, I took 1,600 screenshots of each student to build out their portrait pages. Needless to say, I really perfected the art of taking screenshots! Parents also submitted events from home that were taken throughout the year, such as their kids in Halloween costumes, knitting projects, and more.

As a P.E. teacher and the owner of Circus Joy, it’s in my nature to want to find ways to keep students moving, even if it’s through a screen. During my typical in-person P.E. classes, I would often teach juggling to my students. So when transitioning to teaching juggling through virtual learning, it created some pretty unique opportunities to capture fun screenshots for the yearbook.

While it’s not always easy to learn new P.E. skills through Zoom, it’s still possible if you have the right attitude. And my students truly persevered this year.

At the end of the day, the memories the students have of this past year deserve to be documented. And I find it so fulfilling to help make this yearbook possible for them.

What do you hope students have learned from this past year and how is that reflected in the yearbook?

This yearbook will be a true reflection of the school year. So many unique moments were captured, including students wearing “we’re on mute” and “oops, you’re frozen” printed t-shirts. From the circus classes we captured on Zoom to the many fun screenshots, I know that this book will hold so much value for years to come. The K-8 students will eventually grow older and have their own families. This book, although different from any other year, will showcase all they’ve done. And that makes the yearbook making process worth it.

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