After this summer’s 2011 journalism workshop, Cheryl Pell, executive director of the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association (MIPA), plans to retire from her position after 24 years on the job.
Pell, who also teaches journalism design at Michigan State University (MSU), said she feels it is time to let someone younger run the company. She added that, as far as she knows, 24 years is the longest anyone has served in this position since MIPA was founded in 1921.
“I love teaching; it’s been my life, but I do need to leave MIPA,” she said.
Pell first started with MIPA in 1987. In her 12th year of high school teaching, she said she decided to leave after the first semester due to an overwhelming and stressful year—her then 2-year-old son was diagnosed with asthma, she was teaching from seven new textbooks, her car was totaled and her own asthma put her in the hospital.
“It was really tough,” she said.
In June of that year, the then-executive director of MIPA, Tina Steger-Gratz, called Pell to offer her the position. Because it was only part time, Pell said she turned down the offer. Then, the director of the MSU School of Journalism, Stan Soffin, called and pleaded with her to take the job. It was then she said, that she accepted the position.
Pell said taking the job was the best choice she ever made. Between watching students get awards for their hard work—her favorite part of the position—and bonding with the faculty, Pell said she has loved her work wholly.
“It’s been the most amazing job anyone could ever have,” she said.
Pell said she hopes to continue her teaching career at MSU when she leaves but doesn’t know if the budget will allow for it. If unable to return, she said she wants to pursue something to do with old letterpresses and typography.
When it comes to leaving MIPA itself, though, Pell realizes the moment will be bittersweet.
“I know I’m going to be a mess,” she said. By Danielle Raykhinshteyn / Upstart Staff