IN HER OWN WORDS: Fulfilled by a Life of Education and Inspiration
BY DEBBIR STACK I | PHOTOS BY DAVID FULKERSON
As a child, my sisters and I couldn’t get enough of two things — paper and school. After school, during the summer, and any time in between, we “played school”. As the eldest, I was always the teacher, in charge of dispensing paper in varied colors and textures for writing and art projects. In junior high I became editor of the school newspaper I helped to found; in high school I was yearbook editor. So it came as no surprise that I chose journalism for my college major and career field, after considering and eventually rejecting teacher, archaeologist, librarian and genetics researcher!
While raising and playing school with my own children, I was a freelance writer until the day I walked through the door of the Erie Canal Museum as its public relations coordinator. But a fortuitous thing soon happened. My public relations job was restructured. I was now museum educator as well as PR person, promoting the education programs I created to help children and adults learn about the world’s most famous canal. Paper and public education perfectly partnered together. It’s a partnership that led me to teaching in Syracuse University’s museum studies graduate program; forming my own company teaching visitors about Syracuse through guided tours; and working as a writing coach, freelance editor and co-author of two non-fiction books.
Today in my role as director of interactive education at WCNY, I have the pleasure of being part of America’s largest educational institution — PBS — and engaging learners of all ages through the TV and radio programming. WCNY broadcasts special educational outreach programs, whether it’s Clifford the Big Red Dog literacy lessons for preschoolers; educational workshops and town hall meetings exploring issues such as falling high school graduation rates; or writing educational content for the WCNY website (an electronic form of paper!), that intertwining of interests is stronger than ever.
Soon WCNY will open its new Broadcast and Education Center. The entire 56,000-square-foot complex is actually a one-of-a-kind dynamic classroom. The TV and radio studios, the master control center where television programming for all nine NYS public television stations will be broadcast from and the green technology applied in the construction of our LEED platinum-certified building…it can all be utilized to spark curiosity and to educate children and adults.
We’ll offer Enterprise America, a hands-on learning experience for middle and high school students. Imagine a place where everything from restaurants, financial institutions, local government and even the media are run by young people. They are introduced to entrepreneurship, careers and work skills centered on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) where jobs of the future will be and for which they need to be prepared. There also will be story hours and summer day camp for children; teen drop-in programs and an entrepreneurship club; and student art exhibit space and performing arts opportunities. Through our Center of New Learning, adults will enjoy educational offerings rich and varied, often tied into our television and radio programming or to interests and needs in the 19-county area we serve.
It’s exciting, challenging and rewarding, it’s connecting to our community in meaningful ways, and it’s public education that feeds my passion for education and paper, especially red construction paper these days, for Clifford ears of course!