By Kassie Parisi
CLIFTON PARK — At a time in which distrust of the media runs high, a teacher at Shenendehowa was recently recertified as a Master Journalism Educator.
Cindy Carey, who currently teaches ninth grade English and honors English, initially taught journalism at Shen.
She was a journalism major at Utica College, but left that school soon after to attend The College of St. Rose, where she studied English because the college didn’t offer a journalism major. In the ’80s, Carey began to write features for the now-defunct alternative weekly newspaper, Metroland. After that, Carey caught the writing bug.
“Then I was hooked,” she said. “I’m a story-teller. I like telling stories.”
Carey continued to write for Metroland, then for the Saratogian. Eventually, she became a teacher at Shen with the intention of legitimizing the journalism program in the district.
Carey was certified in 2012 as a Master Journalism Educator through the Journalism Education Association, an organization that focuses on training journalism teachers who are, in turn, teaching young students, and offers certification for teaching high school journalism. The master educator level, Carey explained, focuses on doing workshops and advising other educators.
MJE certified teachers also work on outreach. To get an MJE certification, applicants must take an exam, but also work on a major project. For her certification, Carey focused on creating a blogging unit for the journalism program at Shen at a time where blogging was brand new.
After awhile, Carey decided to make the switch to teaching English while specializing in news writing and non-fiction writing at the grade nine level, to give students a leg up in writing, she said. But, she wanted to leave behind a strong journalism program. To do that, Carey mentored the current journalism teacher, who is now also the advisor of the school newspaper. Carey’s journalism students worked on blogs, but now, she said, technology and journalism has evolved into a even more technology-driven sphere, with blogs becoming the norm, and podcasts growing in popularity.
“Some of the technology gets beyond you after awhile,” she said. “It’s been an interesting journey.”
But, even though she isn’t teaching high school journalism anymore, Carey still has advice for aspiring reporters. She stressed the importance of being vigilant in source and fact checking and that, if something seems fantastic, or unlikely, to take the extra step to confirm it. She also recommended that people look outside of social media sites such as Facebook for news.
Carey didn’t make her first deadline because she had calls that she wanted to follow up on, she said, and making sure she had all the information she needed for her story was more important to her than getting her story to an editor on time. She said it’s always better to face an angry editor, than it is to get something wrong.
“Even if you think you’re going to get in trouble, it’s better to field that backlash then suffer the public humiliation that comes with finding out you made something up,” she said. “You have the truth on your side.”