The Star of Texas Award is presented to an individual or organization for contributions to photographic education in Texas. It is designed to recognize people who have raised the standard of teaching and learning for both teachers and students. The Star of Texas applauds the recipient for making photography programs in Texas some of the best in the country.
The educational activities the conferences provided can be directly attributed to Bill’s hard work and support.
The award has been presented to eighteen outstanding individuals:
Bill Kennedy, professor of photocommunications at St. Edward’s University in Austin, was the first recipient. He was presented the Star of Texas at the Fall 1995 conference.
In presenting the award, Mark Murray, Executive Director of ATPI, recognized Kennedy for his work in setting up the very first student and teacher photography conference in Texas. “The first three years of our annual conference were crucial to our success as an organization,” Murray said. “The educational activities the conferences provided can be directly attributed to Bill’s hard work and support.”
During the 1996 Summer Workshop for Instructors Only, the board presented the second Star of Texas to John Knaur of Olympus Camera.
As Murray said during the presentation, “John has been with ATPI every step of the way. The very first year ATPI (or TAHSPI, as it was known then) held a Fall Conference in Austin, John was there representing Olympus as our only vendor. He has been a part of every conference since then.”
In addition, Knaur’s other contributions to ATPI have been numerous. He has aided in promoting the organization to teachers and other companies around the country. Through his encouragement, Olympus America has become a sponsor of ATPI’s top program award. As a sponsor, Olympus presented the winning school with a new camera for many years.
Eight years ago when we first decided to sponsor a fall conference, Ken, who worked for Kodak at the time, agreed to help sponsor the conference.The 1996 Fall Conference closed with the presentation of the award to Ken Lassiter.
“Ken has been extremely important to the development of ATPI as a viable organization,” Murray said. “Eight years ago when we first decided to sponsor a fall conference, Ken, who worked for Kodak at the time, agreed to help sponsor the conference. Since then he has been a vocal supporter of ATPI and our efforts to improve photography education.”
Not only does ATPI appreciate his support of photo education, but students and teachers around the world have benefited from his active involvement. Through his leadership and vision, Kodak began the Techniques of the Masters series of live satellite broadcasts that featured world-renowned photographers talking directly to students. His contributions to students and schools around the country is legendary.
In 1999, the award was presented to a very surprised Bradley Wilson.
“Bradley could not be a more deserving recipient,” said Craig Coyle, ATPI President. “As a former president of ATPI and in all the jobs he has held around the state he has continually pushed us to be better teachers, better students and better photographers.”
Wilson’s accomplishments in Texas are legendary. From his first teaching job in Wimberley, where he garnered Tops In Texas awards for the school publications, to his role as mastermind and coordinator for the One Day photo projects and the Best of Texas High School Photography book and posters sponsored by Taylor Publishing Company, he has helped promote photography. As a college student, he wrote the teaching manual “Camera Ready,” which is still used by many high school journalism programs as a reference manual for students.
During the PIEA Conference in Orlando in February 2001, the ATPI board, along with the help of Bradley Wilson and Stan Godwin, surprised Executive Director Mark Murray with his Star of Texas award, bringing the illustrious group to five members.
The support that Ilford has provided, not only to the conference, but to the summer teacher workshop has been invaluable.
The 2003 recipients of the Star of Texas all work for a company that has made a tremendous difference to photography students and teachers, not only in Texas but around the country. At the 2003 Winter Conference in Austin, ATPI presented Ilford Photo with the Star of Texas. Named on the award are Wendy Ericksen, Larry Burleson, Jack Caldwell, Kevin Graham and Dennis Sullivan.
“Ilford Photo has been a valuable part of the ATPI Conference since 1988,” Murray said as he presented the award to Howard Kimbrough, the new district sales manager for Texas. “In addition to always being present for the College and Vendor show, they have sponsored the on-site Black and White Speed Skills contest since the first year,” Murray added. “The support that Ilford has provided, not only to the conference, but to the summer teacher workshop has been invaluable.”
At the 2004 Winter Conference in Austin, Jeff Grimm, Trinity HS photo teacher and ATPI vice-president, was recognized as the eleventh Star of Texas.
While students at Trinity continuously win top awards in the state and nation, I truly believe Jeff imparts far more than photographic knowledge when he teaches.
“Jeff, who has taught at Trinity for 26 years and epitomizes the service that ATPI tries to provide to teachers,” said Craig Coyle, ATPI President. “He is always there to provide mentoring or suggestions for teachers or students.”
Deanne Brown, ATPI vice-president said, “Jeff Grimm not only cares deeply about his own students, he cares about mine and everyone else’s. While students at Trinity continuously win top awards in the state and nation, I truly believe Jeff imparts far more than photographic knowledge when he teaches. Jeff is all about the importance of being a good person. The way he lives his own life embodies this. He’s the first to congratulate others on a job well done. He finds positive and encouraging things to say. Not only has his program produced some of the finest photographers in Texas, but he has helped foster the potential of those kids to go out and do the best they can and be the best they can at whatever they do. You know he touches lives when students from other schools who have met him at conventions and workshops email him to get feedback on their photos or to chat with him about college choices. There is no way to express the admiration I have for this man. He certainly deserves the ATPI Star of Texas award.”
During the 2005 Winter Conference, Stan Godwin, Texas A&M University – Commerce professor, received the twelfth Star of Texas. And for once, Godwin was almost speechless with the surprise honor.
Stan has played an invaluable role for the past 29 years as he has led the photography degree program at Texas A&M University.
“Stan has played an invaluable role for the past 29 years as he has led the photography degree program at Texas A&M University,” Murray said during the presentation. “The annual Texas High School Shootout photo contest began under his guidance and he has been a strong supporter of ATPI, hosting the Summer Workshop for the past five years.”
“His students are consistently some of the best college photographers in the nation,” said Bradley Wilson, ATPI past president. “But they are not only good photographers, they are good teachers at the ATPI Winter Conference and Summer Workshop for Instructors. They’ve learned their craft and developed a passion for passing on that knowledge from one of the best.”
Bobby is not only an amazing photographer, a great
teacher but a tireless supporter of young photographers throughout the nation.
At the 2012 Winter Conference, two Star of Texas recipients were honored. For his work with students and teachers in Texas, and across the nation, Bob Malish, professional products advisor at Canon U.S.A., received the Star of Texas.
Sherri Taylor, a former high school instructor in Texas and now an instructor at Syracuse University, said, “For more than 20 years, he’s been a rock star in his contributions to high school photography and photographers, especially in Texas.” And Dallas-area photographer Mike McLean said, “Bobby is not only an amazing photographer, a great teacher but a tireless supporter of young photographers throughout the nation.”
According to Malish, “I had some incredible opportunities and encouragement as a beginning photographer, and I try to do the same thing for other youngsters now.”
Craig Coyle is just one of the best guys around. He can talk with anyone. He cares about kids and teachers.
Much to his surprise, ATPI Past President Craig Coyle, Martin HS (Arlington), also received the Star of Texas award. According to Mark Murray, ATPI Executive Director, “he’s been willing to serve as president of ATPI for many years because he believes in the organization. He would give you the shirt off his back if that’s what you needed.” Coyle served as president of ATPI for more than 10 years and contributes to students and teachers around the country thanks to the numerous workshops he teaches.
I see Deanne Brown and all I can think of is the Energizer Bunny. She is constantly on the move.
At the 2016 Winter Conference in Austin, ATPI’s next Star of Texas was recognized. Deanne Brown, Westlake HS (Austin), who serves as the current ATPI President, was surprised by family and friends with the honor. Bobby Hawthorne, retired UIL director of academics, said “her classroom was about as organized and coherent as a Sarah Palin speech, and yet, out of this creative chaos arises some of the nation’s finest student journalism.”
Sherri set the gold standard in Texas for building and maintaining outstanding photography and journalism programs.
In 2017 at the ATPI Winter Conference in Arlington, ATPI named Sherri Taylor, Syracuse University, as a Star of Texas. Taylor, who began her teaching career at Irving HS in Irving, TX, is nationally recognized for her commitment to photography and design education. She has impacted countless students and teachers during her teaching career and has served on the faculty of the Interscholastic League Press Conference Summer Workshop at the University of Texas at Austin since its inception. “Even though she has taught at Syracuse for more than 30 years, we still consider her a Texan at heart,” said Mark Murray, ATPI Executive Director, “and she has captured our heart as well because of her contributions to photography education.” Taylor passed away in October 2020 after a long illness.
Don’t let her size fool you. Inside that tiny frame is a powerhouse of energy, knowledge, creativity, kindness, and wisdom.
The 2019 Winter Conference in Arlington saw a new recipient recognized. Kenda North, professor of art and art history at the University of Texas at Arlington, became the 17th person to receive the Star of Texas. North, who has taught at UTA since 1989, has hosted the Winter Conference multiple times and has served as a judge for ATPI Fall and Spring contests. Steve Hamm, photography teacher at Arlington High School, said “Amidst a long list of quality disciplines and attributes, perhaps Kenda’s finest is her uncanny ability to educate and challenge her students before placing them in just the right light to shine and discover their potential. The impact she has made in a long career of sustained excellence will truly be immeasurable.”
Chad tore me down and kindly rebuilt me into a good photographer. And along the way he introduced me to ATPI.
In 2023, ATPI added the 14th Star of Texas to the list of honorees, naming Chad Smith from Texas A&M University – Commerce as the newest recipient. Smith, who taught at the University of Oklahoma and other schools before coming back to TAMU-C, has worked as Assistant Professor of Photography since 2003. As Mark Murray, ATPI Executive Director, said, Smith has been a constant supporter of ATPI and the teachers and students. “For many years he would show up with college students in tow and help out wherever was needed, whether teaching, judging, critiquing or just being a gopher for us.”
To nominate individuals or companies for this award, please contact Laura Spray, president of ATPI.