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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

MySpace Photo Wrecks Teaching Career

Judgment, Professionalism In Question

Pity Stacy Snyder. At 25, she was working to achieve her teaching credentials and a bachelors degree. And, having fun at a Halloween party. (See Gil Kaufman's MTV News story here.

At 27, just days before her graduation, anticipating the launch of her career in teaching, that Halloween party came back to haunt her. A picture of Stacy, labeled "Drunken Pirate", is at the center of the train-wreck. Stacy posted the picture on her MySpace page. Discovered by officials in the school where she was a student teacher, and forwarded to her college dean, this photo and caption was enough to render her final evaluation as "unsatisfactory" in the area of professionalism. The dean and provost of Millersville University's School of Education refused to issue her a Bachelor of Science degree in education and teaching certificate. No doubt, she failed to realize that MySpace is really "My Billboard"; and so the self-described "drunken pirate" comes face-to-face with a terrible reality:

What you put on MySpace says a lot about who you are and where your priorities lie. For good or ill, you are making yourself a public figure. And while the number of "interested public" may be small, they may in fact be VERY consequential to your future.

Personally, I think the photo is tame, the tag line is silly, and the reaction excessive. However, do we really want those who are willing to describe, promote, and expose their "drunken" behavior to be acting as role models for our kids?

It's just common sense, folks. It would be one thing if someone else had posted the photo. But to make the statement about oneself shows either
a) a lack of self-respect, or (more probably)
b) a lack of self-awareness.

Let's ask a simple, obvious question
(and before answering, try to remember what it was like for you back then -- when you were trying to be, act, and appear more adult than you were):

If Stacy were teaching your high-schooler, and your son or daughter found the photo and caption, would it have a positive, negative, or neutral impact on your child?

No, we don't have much privacy anymore. However, we all need to use a little bit of judgment in how we proclaim ourselves to the world. Ignorance, immaturity, and youthful indiscretions are thin armor against the sharp arrows of public opinion.

Stacy has made herself a public figure, and no matter what happens in her lawsuit, her teaching opportunities will be negatively affected by this incident.

Pity poor Stacy. And then make sure your children don't meet the same fate.