For the second year in a row, Stephanie Carey will work in the school that took away the job she loves.
Once the newspaper adviser for the Boonville Pirate Press, Carey was reassigned from all journalism-related teaching positions—including yearbook and a journalism 1 course—after a strung out controversy with the Boonville School District. Unable to find another journalism teaching position, Carey continues to teach English at Boonville High School.
Oct. 2, 2009, the Pirate Press distributed their first issue of the year, which included a story on homosexuality titled “Far From Straight.” Yet only hours after the issue was distributed to Boonville High School students, district superintendent Mark Ficken ordered the Pirate Press to recall every copy of the issue. Ficken believed “Far From Straight” along with two other articles on school lunches and bus safety “could be really disruptive to the educational process.”
Though Ficken quickly changed his mind and allowed the Pirate Press to redistribute the paper to students, the school district ordered the Pirate Press could no longer publish with local newspaper The Boonville Daily News (BDN), which had been sending copies of the Pirate Press as an insert to the community for over 30 years.
For the remainder of the school year, the censorship of the Pirate Press gained attention in the Boonnville community and was covered in a series of articles in the BDN. As the editors of the Pirate Press continued to voice their disagreement with the school’s new prior restraint policy, Carey, who has tenure, underwent constant observations by the BHS administration in what Carey believes was an attempt to fire her. After Boonville High School issued Carey 33 “personal deficiencies” in April of 2010, Carey was removed as newspaper and yearbook adviser–a job change that cost her about $300 dollars a month.
“It’s still surreal two years later,” Carey said.
This past school year, Carey taught communication arts and sports history while the Pirate Press readjusted to an adviser with no prior journalism experience.
“Watching someone else do my job is hard,” Carey said.
Current editor of the Pirate Press Samuel Paris, who worked as a first-year reporter during the 2009-2010 school year, still sees Carey as a role model and strong supporter of the Pirate Press. This summer, Carey worked with Paris at the Missouri Urban Journalism Workshop, for which she encouraged Paris to apply.
“She is still a very important figure for me,” Paris said. “Ms. Carey knows the ropes.”
Carey, who also serves as vice president of the Missouri Interscholastic Press Association, may have lost her job as an adviser, but her role in supporting scholastic journalism has stayed persistent. She is volunteering her time as an editor and coach in two camps at the University of Missouri this summer and plans to apply as a teacher at MU. During the school year, she acts as a mentor to the Pirate Press’ current adviser and past students such as Paris.
“This was a really hard lesson to learn about bureaucracy and where the community lies,” Carey said. “But it’s time to walk away and put this behind me.”