Martha Stewart Living Magazine and the McKinney School Make Headlines

Martha Stewart Living Magazine and the McKinney School Make Headlines


Michael Boodro of Martha Stewart Living Magazine works one-on-one with a student in creating the Dr. Susan S. McKinney School's new student magazine.  

The best-selling Martha Stewart Living Magazine may have a new competitor on the newsstands—and their own Editor-in-chief Michael Boodro is the one behind it.

Having partnered with the Dr. Susan S. McKinney Secondary School of the Arts in fall 2007, Boodro decided to focus their collaboration on what he knows best: the publishing industry.  Working with Principal Paula Holmes, he came up with the idea nearly a year ago to launch a new student magazine that would include a variety of student works—from short stories, to recipes, to original art.  Their ambitious project continued to develop throughout the school year, culminating with an official magazine unveiling celebration last spring. With that, McKinney Living was born.

The process leading up to the magazine's release was a true test of commitment for both partners.  Following their initial planning discussions, Holmes tapped faculty member Joanne Marciano to oversee the effort on the school's end.  Marciano gathered a small group of juniors and seniors to serve on McKinney Living's editorial board—and quickly put them to work soliciting submissions from the school. 

The editorial board of McKinney Living meets with Michael Boodro during a visit to the school last spring.

The student staff then spent several sessions learning about the publishing process from Boodro and his seasoned colleagues over the spring, providing them a basis for implementing their own publication.  During their visits to Martha Stewart Living Magazine, students had the opportunity to learn layout techniques using the company's software.  In addition, Boodro assembled representatives from various departments to visit the school with him and field questions related to the magazine project, as well as discuss their personal experiences in the industry.

"I was struck by how smart and eager they are," Boodro said.  "We got to see them blossom from shy and tentative to more confident with just a little encouragement."

Located in Brooklyn, the 6-12 school emphasizes the performing arts in its curriculum—an area outside of Boodro's expertise.  Although he was initially unsure of how he could help the school, Boodro soon realized that the partnership could compliment the school's academic focus.

Students join Michael Boordo (far left, 2nd row), PENCIL President Michael Haberman (2nd left, 2nd row) and Principal Paula Holmes (far right, 2nd row) at the magazine's launch party last spring.

"After meeting with Principal Holmes, I realized that what was most important was involving a lot of kids," Boodro said.  "A magazine seemed like a way to do it."

According to Holmes, the publication was effective in bringing students together in a positive venue, generating school-wide morale.  Even the middle school students were aware of the project, with several expressing early interest in joining the editorial board when they move on to high school.  The enthusiasm of the entire McKinney community has prompted Holmes and Boodro to expand the project in the coming school year.

"How often do we get to work side-by-side with someone at that level?" Holmes said.  "There's no way that our students could get that experience from a book."

For the second issue of McKinney Living, Boodro said they hope to involve even more students and provide them a longer timeframe to complete the planning, editing and production process.  In addition, the school will be offering a new writing class in the fall, which will be responsible for creating much of the magazine content.  Furthermore, the partners will be seeking a corporate underwriter to provide additional financial support for the costs of printing.

Students share a proposed page from the school's magazine with members of Martha Stewart Living's editorial staff.

"McKinney Living is a perfect example of a PENCIL partnership project  that has been integrated into the curriculum in a meaningful way to provide a real world application for student learning in a fun and exciting way," said Gayle Villani, PENCIL's Vice President of Programs.

"I'm really happy to be involved—and so is the rest of my staff," Boodro said.  "It helps remind us of how fun our own jobs are, which we see in the students' reactions."

Holmes also said she has been motivated by student feedback to continue prioritizing the partnership—and counts Boodro as a crucial resource in effectively leading the McKinney School.

"It's like we've adopted him," she commented.  "He's part of the McKinney extended family."





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