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Vote: Help Utica Journalism Teacher Win Media Educator of the Year

Help Utica High School journalism and yearbook teacher win 2012 Specs Howard's Media Educator of the year award.

Utica High School Yearbook and Journalism Teacher Stacy Smale is in the running for the Specs Howard's 2012 Media Educator of the Year award.

To win the title, Smale has to be the top vote-getter by May 10. To vote, click here. Judging by the comments on the Specs Howard website, Smale has plenty of student support.

So, what is it about Mrs. Smale that made a student nominate her for the prestigious award. Check out Patch's Q and A with Smale.

Patch Question: Stacy, you've been nominated as the 2012 Media Educator of the
Year. The community was asked to nominate a teacher who has guided
students toward a career in digital media, graphic design, or in
traditional broadcasting. Why do you think you were nominated for this
high award? 

Answer: Journalism classes used to be all about writing, but that's not the case anymore. While students certainly do a lot of writing in my classes, they also learn many graphic design skills along the way because we use InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. In fact, many students enter the class because they want to write, but leave with a love of designing. Our yearbook is now designed with a "magazine approach," incorporating many graphic elements, and my newspaper students are always going above and beyond to add a little something extra to every story to grab their readers' eye. Utica High's publications classes have helped many students decide that they want to pursue a career in journalism, whether it's writing, design, photography or broadcasting.

Patch Question: What do you repeatedly do to ensure your students continue to strive for greatness and achieve their goals?  

Answer: We regularly submit our publications for critiques, so that students can get feedback on what they're doing right, and what they need to improve on. We also attend workshops throughout the year, including the summer, to make sure we're up-to-date on what's going on in scholastic journalism. It's so important to keep up on the latest trends in graphic design, so that the students approach their projects with a fresh approach.

Patch Question: Do you use any out-of-the-box ideas to inspire students?  

Answer: I am so lucky that I get to work with many of my students for three years in a row. I really get to know them, and since we get to spend so much time together, we're kind of like our own little "family." We really love working on our publications together, and the kids take a lot of pride in what they're doing. Because we are producing "student" publications, I think it's important to give my students ownership, and my editors have a lot of responsibilities and really work to help new students feel comfortable as the year progresses. We have a lot of fun together, which is important when you're stressed out because of deadlines.  I have an interesting mix of kids enrolled in my publication classes. I know that some schools stick to an "application process" and only accept the best of the best for yearbook or newspaper classes, but I truly believe that there's something for everyone on a publications staff. While we certainly have a lot of high-achieving students enrolled, sometimes it's the student that is not doing so well in traditional classes that becomes my best graphic designer or photographer, for example. I love being able to see this motivated side of them, letting them realize that they have some amazing talents. 

Patch Question: Have you been in contact with any students who have gone on to successful careers in the media? Can you give Patch an example?

Answer: I've had many students go on to successful careers in the media ranging from TV, to graphic design, and it's so exciting when they come back to tell me about their lives.  While it's inspiring to know that many of my students have found their love for journalism in my classes, it's equally exciting to hear about how being a part of a publications class has helped my students in other areas. I have a former student who is now an aerospace engineer, for example, and while he was at U of M, he told me that the Newspaper was the most beneficial class he took in high school. He said it taught him valuable life skills, like how to work as part of a team, and he was also able to "wow" his professors with amazing presentations because of his graphic design skills.  

Patch Question: What's your educational background and how long have you been teaching at UCS?  

Answer: I've been in love with publications since high school, where I was a member of my school's yearbook and newspaper staffs. I was also editor-in-chief of the newspaper my senior year. At Central, I wrote for CM Life and was a photographer for our yearbook. After graduating from CMU with degrees in both English and Journalism, I began teaching in UCS in 1994. I started out at Bemis Junior High, where I taught English and Yearbook. When there was an opening at Utica High in 2003, I knew I had to take it, because I could spend most of my day teaching in my favorite area, journalism.

Patch Question: Which classes do you teach at Utica and what after school
activities are you involved in?

Answer: My schedule consists of Yearbook, Newspaper, Journalism, Desktop Publishing and English 10, and it's not unusual to find us working in the publications room until six or seven at night. I know it's a crazy schedule with so many classes to prep for, but it's worth it. Although the workload and deadlines are definitely stressful at times, I absolutely love my students; they make going to work every day fun.

Voting ends May 7, and users can only vote once a day.

Mike May 05, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Ok......I'll go vote. But there might be a day you may be asked for you and all your students to clap to keep me alive, ........I'll be counting on you! Tink ;)
Nancy Emery May 07, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Hello! Congratulations on your nomination! As a former UHS yearbook student (Junior and Senior years), I appreciate the modern technology that allows students to get the job done electronically. I also like the fact that students come in wanting to write, but also are educated on the graphic design aspect. Best wishes for great success! Nancy Maas Emery UHS Class of '72

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