The Internet Parent
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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.


  • So every teacher on this planet has never got drunk before(off the job of course)?

    It does not indicate that her conduct on the job is going to be un-professional or that she is uncapable.

    I'm assuming this photo was taken at a college party or something similar, for those of us who have been to university, we know exactly what happens in student life.

    A criminal conviction,sure she should probably not be teaching but this is going a bit too far.

    Some of the most respected politicians have been pictured at functions a little tipsy and they lead and control a nation.

    Parents, I see that you want to look after the best interests of your children but I bet your teachers at least had a drink or two during their college days, as have mine (off the job). My teachers were quite good at there jobs, it didn't seem to affect their work.

    Your just getting a little over protective here, either way if a teacher were to turn up to work intoxicated I'd hope the school would handle the situation with the appropriate action.

    Come on parentals, Lighten up a little.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 09, 2007 10:26 PM  

  • Ahh, anonymous, indeed, it seems ridiculous.

    But the smoking gun is that the behavior is self-described and self-promoted. It seems strange at first, but whether the behavior is intrinsically foul, unprofessional, or depraved is not the question. The problem is that she chose to highlight this behavior about herself in a public way.

    Imagine this teacher introducing herself to the parents on back-to-school night, and to the kids on the first day of class: "And, oh, here's a picture of me drunk at a Halloween party..."

    THAT'S the error in judgment. Not that she did what she did, but that she (no doubt unconsciously) made a billboard out of it.

    Internet behavior is public behavior. Stacy's situation is one more example, and one more painful lesson.

    By Blogger John Carosella, at May 10, 2007 8:32 AM  

  • I think the most important part of this post is that it gives us something to point to and say, "There *are* consequences to your actions".

    Many (most?) teens think this is just fun and games and part of the social culture. While it is that, it is a lot more and can have a larger (and much further reaching) impact than initially considered.

    By Blogger Keith Richmond, at May 16, 2007 10:30 AM  

  • Well said, Keith. That's exactly what both kids and adults need to understand. Thanks for the comment.

    By Blogger John Carosella, at May 17, 2007 11:46 AM  

  • Please rush your MAC version of K9! We're waiting for it!

    By Anonymous Kerry Kearney, at May 21, 2007 7:45 PM  

  • Kerry - We hear you loud and clear!

    Hopefully we'll have it by the early part of the 2007-08 school year. Fingers crossed -- but we won't release until it's right, because you guys are counting on us to deliver something that works.

    We'll need some beta testers, by the way... pass the word, and let us know via the feedback form on the K9 web site that you'd be willing to be a Macintosh K9 beta tester.

    By Blogger John Carosella, at May 21, 2007 8:04 PM  

  • John, on another topic, does K9 either make (or if not, recommend) any software that monitors/filters chat session in MSN, Skype, etc? Also, are there any cell phone companies you know of that allows parents to set up notifications of text messages their teensd are sending and receiving?

    By Blogger Keith Richmond, at June 07, 2007 9:15 AM  

  • Chat/IM filtering/logging is on the development roadmap for K9, currently targeted for the end of this calendar year. MSN for sure. Skype is a bigger challenge, and will probably not be handled in that release. :-(

    By Blogger John Carosella, at June 07, 2007 10:15 AM  

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