September Showcase: Cherié Burgett


Journalism advisers Cherié Burgett and Janet Sobbe, Staley High School, Kansas City

Advises: Legacy yearbook and Talon newsmagazine 

Teaches: Journalism Lab, Journalism 1 and Journalism 1 Photography.

Bio: I started my career in broadcasting, and my first job was as a TV reporter. I found that TV news was not my calling, so luckily KMBC-TV in Kansas City, where I had been an intern, called to offer me a job launching their news website. I jumped at the chance, and I was a local, then regional, then national and international news editor for 85 TV stations around the country. I did that for about a decade before becoming a teacher.

This is the 12th school year for Staley High School, and I have been teaching journalism for that long, since the school opened. I started by teaching all journalism courses offered, including all of the broadcast courses. After about five years, the programs were so big that they hired another teacher who took the broadcasting classes off my hands.  We have built strong programs with great reputations. The journalists here do solid work, and they really care about what they do.

Current Focus: Our focus this year is teaching skills. I have been lucky in recent years to have several seasoned journalists on staff, but this year I have young staffs. Both my yearbook editors are juniors, and one of my newsmagazine editors is a junior. I also lost a lot of students to graduation and to AP classes, early college programs. But I am excited to have a new staff because of fresh ideas. The classroom has a completely different feel to it as well, and I see that as a good thing – a fresh start.

I believe this time of year is about building relationships and setting standards and routines. We get all of our processes and norms established so we don’t get sloppy. We celebrate, make goals and start working on them, and we hold one another accountable.

September Tip: One tip I have is to get your kids to camp! I have found that it is so important for them to have guidance from instructors who they don’t see in class every day. They get to meet other journalists and share ideas. Since I have started requiring journalism camp, the quality of our publications and the skill set on my staffs have increased tremendously. My kids have far stronger graphic design, layout and photography skills than I do! I help them tweak things, give feedback and guide them, but they are very self sufficient. I think that’s important in a program where you want it to truly be a student produced publication.