Workshop founder Gloria Shields had a way of getting people to do exactly what she wanted. Those who knew her well reflect on the impact of the legendary Texas adviser.  

PULLIAM: “As a young adviser, it was a huge boost to my confidence that my mentor wanted me to be on her workshop faculty.”

In 1981, Gloria created a one-day fall seminar to provide local journalism students with quality instruction without the cost of travel. Local advisers Jim Davidson and Jack Harkrider helped Gloria plan the first event. She brought in nationally renowned advisers John Cutsinger and Bruce Watterson to teach along with several local advisers and staff members of The Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times Herald.  

The next year, Gloria invited an adviser from each local school district to serve on an advisory committee for the Dallas County Schools Publications Seminar. 

In 1984, the one-day seminar became a five-day summer workshop, the All-American High Schools Publications Workshop.

With the 2017 partnership with the National Scholastic Press Association, the workshop has gone full circle. In 1984, Gloria named her summer workshop after NSPA’s All-American award. Following Gloria’s death on August 16, 1988, the advisory committee added her name to the title. Since then, thousands of students have attended the Gloria Shields All-American Publications Workshop.

Gloria was a force of nature. She had a way of getting people to do exactly what she wanted done.

Prior to the 1984 seminar, Gloria told me I was going to teach “Editorial Pages Readers Will Read.” When I expressed concern that I didn’t have good examples to use, she handed me a box and said, “Here are the All-American publications. That’s all you need.” As a young adviser, it was a huge boost to my confidence that my mentor wanted me to be on her workshop faculty.

Gloria would be thrilled at the success of the workshop. Her dream has become one of the top scholastic journalism workshops in the nation.

By Mary Pulliam, Duncanville High School, retired


HAWTHORNE: “She challenged me to grow up and embrace the full responsibilities of my position.”

One simply did not say “No” to Gloria Shields, and it didn’t matter what the request involved and entailed. If Gloria asked you to do this or that, you answered, “Yes.”

I met her when I was a senior at White Oak High School (Texas). She taught at Red Oak. In the spring of 1971, her daughter, Karla, and I competed at the Kilgore regional meet together and qualified for the State Meet in multiple contests. For reasons I’ll never fully understand, Gloria kept tab of me all through my college years and my first two years as a daily newspaper reporter and editor.

After I joined the University Interscholastic League in 1977, we reacquainted in big way. She recruited me to work on various projects. I taught dozens of workshops and seminars for her, judged UIL meets, even created a comprehensive journalistic writing curriculum we called “Acorn Education Systems,” which she then marketed and sold, even though this posed for me something of a conflict of interest.

I did it anyway. I preferred to answer to a University of Texas vice president rather than to tell Gloria “No.”

I regularly stayed in her home and even vacationed with the Shields’ family at Beaver’s Bend National Park. She challenged me to grow up and embrace the full responsibilities of my position. After that, she whipped me at gin rummy and schooled me on the nuances of a Flannery O’Connor or Eudora Welty short story.

She never once raised her voice or lost her cool or forgot that her main job wasn’t to crank out Golden Foo-Foo yearbooks or newspapers. It was to help mold kids.

She found meaningful roles for every student who ever enrolled in one of her classes, and if the most a student had to offer was banging chalkboard erasers together or pulling staples out of exchange newspapers, then that’s what that student did, and none did it better.

She was as proud of them as she was her UIL state champions and her Pacemaker and Gold Crown editors.

This workshop is named in her honor because she envisioned it and pooled together the resources for it and found the original site and asked me and David Knight and Judi Coolidge and four or five others to teach while promising us little more than airfare and a good chicken fried steak, and we all said “Yes.”

We knew she’d make it work because she always did. For an itsy-bitsy woman who had the physique of a damp jellyroll, she knew how to throw her weight around. Someone once asked her, “How do you get your school to pay for your travel and everything else?” Without batting an eye, she answered, “I sleep with the superintendent.”

The superintendent just happened to be her husband, Don Shields. Later on, he was named Dallas County Schools superintendent, so when Gloria asked him for school buses and overhead projectors and God only knows what else, she didn’t have to ask twice.

Oh, to have been as admired and respected and loved as she was.

Gloria died in 1988 after a fierce battle with cancer. It was the only thing that ever turned her down.

By Bobby Hawthorne, University Interscholastic League, retired

TAYLOR: “Gloria was a tiny woman, but she was bigger than life. She was warm and funny.”

The workshop started in the early 1980s at Mountain View Junior College.

Mike McLean, then a student at Irving High School, attended the workshop.

“The guest speaker was Ed Hille, a photographer from Dallas Morning News McLean said. “At that workshop, I realized that I wanted to be a photographer.”

Four years after graduating from high school, workshop founder Gloria Shields asked McLean to assist Sherri Taylor and Bobby Malish in teaching the photography class.

Decades later, McLean still serves as a workshop instructor and a member of the workshop’s planning committee.

“Gloria had a passion for working with young journalists,” McLean said.

Because of that passion for journalism, Shields envisioned a workshop to help Texas high schoolers improve their publications and journalistic skills.

As a long-time adviser at Red Oak High School, Shields worked with her husband, Don, the superintendent of Dallas County Schools, to make this vision a reality.

Shields formed a committee to found the workshop, which was when she met Sherri Taylor, then the adviser at Irving High School.

“Gloria was an icon because her publications were the best in the state,” Taylor said. “She knew she wanted to help students of Texas.”

Shields not only created the workshop, but also put together tutorials and packets to help students prepare for journalism contests. She also produced a complete yearbook-class curriculum and a reporting lab recognized as a first of their kind.

“Gloria was a tiny woman, not bigger than 5 feet 5 inches,” Taylor said. “But she was bigger than life. She was warm, funny, and you were always welcome in her house if you were working on a project or needed a place to stay.”

Gloria Shields died of cancer in 1988, but her name still lives through the workshop and the spirit of high school journalism.

“I miss her,” Taylor said. “She was like a mother to me.”

By Sherri Taylor, Irving High School, Syracuse University
At the time of her death in 2020, Taylor was particularly proud of teaching at the Gloria Shields Workshop for 41 consecutive years.

Gloria Shields NSPA Media Workshop
National Scholastic Press Association
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