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Journalism professor Temple honored with 2010-11 Caperton award

John TempleHe is a passionate storyteller, writer and teacher – someone who does not stop until he has given it his all.

West Virginia University professor and associate dean of the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism John Temple has given students the tools and inspiration they need to succeed in the journalism world for more than eight years.

This year he is being recognized for his extraordinary efforts with the Caperton Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Writing.

“While there are many excellent teachers of writing at WVU, it is hard for me to imagine anyone as deserving of the Caperton award as John Temple,” Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism Dean Maryanne Reed wrote in her recommendation letter.

“He has distinguished himself as a dedicated and skilled classroom teacher and as an innovator of cutting-edge curriculum and service outreach that advances the news writing discipline in the evolving digital age.”

The Caperton award seeks to improve student skills by recognizing tenured faculty members who are dedicated and proficient in teaching writing. It was first established at WVU in 2008, and is supported by former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton.

“I think it is really hard to quantify what good writing is and it is really hard to teach anyone to be a good writer, in part because it is a lifelong process,” Temple said. “I feel like if a student can come out of a class of mine having picked up on a couple of concepts that helped even in small ways, then that is what I am shooting for because that is how I learned to write.

“I feel very gratified to have received this award because learning how to write has been something I have focused on, and still focus on, for many years now. It is very meaningful to me.”

As part of the award, Temple will receive $5,000 to use as a salary supplement, savings bond or compensation for reimbursement of actual expenses, such as travel or equipment purchases.

In addition to teaching courses in reporting and writing, Temple has remained an active journalist.

“Throughout my time at the journalism school, I have honed theories I picked up as a journalist, and I’ve become better at conveying them,” he wrote in his application. “I’ve learned how to craft a varied and thought-provoking class session and how to deliver a compelling performance in the classroom. Along the way, I have easily learned as much as my students, especially about teaching.”

Temple has had two books published. His most recent book, “The Last Lawyer: The Fight to Save Death Row Inmates,” received the Scribes Book Award from the American Society of Legal Writers as the best law-related book of 2010. His other book, “Deadhouse: Life in a Coroner’s Office,” was published in 2005.

Temple founded the West Virginia Uncovered Project in the fall of 2008. With the project, WVU students and faculty are helping rural newspapers adapt to the demands of the digital age. The project has received nearly $400,000 in grant funding from the Claude Worthington Benedum, Ford and McCormick foundations.

In 2009, Temple was named a WVU Foundation Outstanding Teacher.