East Syracuse It’s hard not to be impressed by the quality of the nomination package for Michael Ferris, a business and technology teacher at East Syracuse Minoa High School who teaches the television production classes. The SUNY Cortland grad — he has both a bachelor and master’s degrees from there — received six letters of support, including four from former students who are working in the television industry.
The letter writers used phrases like “technology teacher extraordinaire,” “irreplaceable mentor” and “the best-kept secret in local television.” Former students, including CNY Central Sports Director Niko Tamurian, wrote about how Ferris inspired them to consider a career in television, something they had never considered a possibility before taking that class. “It’s possible that I had ‘it’ in me all along, but I surely didn’t know it until Mr. Ferris’ teaching,” Tamurian wrote. “Suddenly I went from a shy high school senior to an outgoing TV personality in high school! His leadership allowed me to become the TV personality that I am in the ‘real world’ today.”
Brian Keech, another former student who is editor of the reality TV program “Storage Wars,” noted in his letter that there are two types of people who take non-traditional classes at the high school level: those who are already captivated by the subject matter and those who are waiting to be captivated. “I fell into the latter category,” Keech continued. “I was simply looking for an easy elective to take. Within a month I was spending my free periods video editing, coming to school early for the televised morning announcements, and even using study halls to build a mobile control booth.”
Former student Anthony McCarthy, a freelance television producer who works on shows for CBS, Bravo, Food Network and TLC, noted that the program Ferris inherited in 2003 offered two TV/film based classes and handled high school morning announcements. “Mr. Ferris set out with his barebones budget and antiquated equipment to make the program great,” McCarthy wrote. “Over the years, Ferris used local resources and connections to build a top of the line studio to give students the ability to make top of the line programming. The current setup is technologically better than many professional studios.”