A journalist’s professional life can take many turns; however, Faran Fagen has followed two parallel paths for more than a decade. Outside the classroom he covers sports and news as a freelance writer and photojournalist, while inside Pembroke Pines Charter High School he’s a journalism and photography teacher, and an advisor to the school newspaper and yearbook.
The thrill of producing a good story stays with Faran in the classroom. “My favorite thing is when we’re working on a yearbook or the newspaper and find the photograph that goes with the headline and story.” He also relishes holding up examples of excellence. “I’m a big believer in modeling, whether from a professional or something a student does well, if students can have something tangible to examine, those are the most teachable moments.”
On March 10, nine students from Pembroke Pines will enjoy some “teachable moments” at the National Society of Arts and Letters (NSAL) Florida East Coast Chapter’s High School Photography Program Master Class and Exhibition. In its third year, the program is designed to showcase student photography and expose young artists to nationally acclaimed photographers.
The photography program is being held again at Florida Atlantic University’s Theatre Lab in Boca Raton and the high school students’ work is on display from March 3 – 23. Faran considers that exposure phenomenal. “I have a lot of aspiring photographers in my classes and this gives them an opportunity to see what it’s like to have your photography showcased.”
Pembroke Pines, located in Broward County, will compete against three high schools in Palm Beach County in NSAL’s juried exhibition. Students will compete for Overall Best in Show, Best in Show (at each school) and eight other monetary award categories. The other participating schools are Boca Raton Community High School, A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts and Jupiter Community High School. Faran views it as a rare opportunity for students. “The NSAL exhibit is so important because it raises creativity to a whole new level.”
The high school photos will be judged by a panel of award-winning photojournalists that includes Cathaleen Curtiss, director of photography for The Buffalo News and a former White House news photographer. Students will present a range of photography, including portraits, abstracts and landscapes. Faran is partial to action photos, which is not surprising, given his specialty in sports reporting. “In the classroom over the years, all types of photography blend together, but I like action shots best, they tell the most.”
A love of sports and writing led Faran to the University of Missouri, School of Journalism and while there he covered sports for The Kansas City Star. After graduating in 1997, he worked at The Palm Beach Post for two years, and spent most of his time in the sports department. He began teaching at Pembroke Pines 14 years ago and continued working for The Post as a freelance writer, sometimes shooting his own pictures. He has also worked as a freelancer for MLB.com.
One of the most important lessons he brings inside the classroom is about storytelling. “I tell them to look for emotion, to capture the moment, sometimes a picture all by itself tells more than a written story. In a perfect world, they balance each other.”
He is a journalist and teacher, who can truly appreciate the beauty of balance.
F – French fries or tater tots? French Fries
R – Right brained or left brained? Right Brained
E – Email or carrier pigeon? Email
S – Sunshine or moonlight? Sunshine
H – Homebody or party animal? Homebody