Educators across the country join News Literacy Project’s Ambassador Program
The News Literacy Project has selected 10 additional educators to join its News Literacy Ambassador Program, a national network of teachers, librarians, school leaders and others who help champion news literacy initiatives in their communities.
NLP ambassadors act as leaders and partners to support the needs of educators in their districts. In these grassroots roles, they give presentations, organize learning events, hold student competitions and more.
The 2023-2024 cohort represents the program’s greatest reach and impact to date. With 19 total ambassadors, NLP, a nonpartisan nonprofit, is supporting community news literacy efforts from New York to California, Michigan to New Mexico and states in between.
“We are so pleased to grow this program, as the ambassadors are at the heart of our NewsLitNation® educator community,” said Miriam Romais, NLP’s director of NewsLitNation. “They are active educators themselves, so they understand the needs of their fellow teachers and librarians. Ambassadors make themselves available to work with their local schools, districts and boards of education to help address specific news and media literacy needs within their regions.”
The new group of ambassadors includes educators who are also award-winning journalists, authors and podcasters, and sought-after speakers and experts in their fields.
Each ambassador brings to their role ample classroom and library experience — as well as a commitment to help develop better informed, engaged and empowered students. Meet our newest members, below, and read about all our ambassadors on the program web page.
California (Bay Area)
Merl Corpuz is an education specialist working in the San Francisco Bay area. She has worked in this capacity for the past 15 years. As an education specialist, she teaches core academic classes as well as world language to students with individualized education programs at various schools in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. It is her responsibility to differentiate learning material to the unique needs of each student on her caseload. In addition to core academics, she teaches financial literacy and is a Next Generation Personal Finance Distinguished Educator. Additionally, she has had the privilege of being an iCivics Teacher Facilitator fellow for Northern California this past year.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in Middle Eastern studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds moderate/severe and mild/moderate teaching credentials from the University of Massachusetts Global (formerly Brandman University). When not teaching, Merl enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with family.
California (Southern California)
Jason Hensley, Ph.D., teaches language, history, public speaking and news literacy at the Heritage School, a private school in Los Angeles. He is a fellow of the Michael LaPrade Holocaust Education Institute of the Anti-Defamation League, a member of Civic Spirit’s teacher education cohort and the award-winning author of 12 books, includingPart of the Family. His work has been featured in HuffPost as well as the BBC, and he has served as the historical advisor for a Holocaust documentary.
Social studies educator
Renatae Burton is a middle school social studies educator at Campus Community School in Dover, Delaware, and an instructor at the Delaware Center for Distance Adult Learning. With a career spanning 12 years, Renatae initially shared the beauty of literature and language as a high school English teacher, leaving an indelible mark on countless students. Now, she has embarked on a new journey, bringing her expertise to middle school social studies.
She has served as a board member for the Delaware State Education Association and on the National Education Association, where she was the Mid-Atlantic representative on the Standards and Practices Committee for two terms. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Delaware State University and her master’s degree in nonprofit organizational leadership from Wilmington University.
Library media specialist
Jessica Wetendorf works for school district U-46, the second-largest school district in Illinois. She’s currently building library programs for the district’s alternative secondary schools. Her involvement in program development has led to her role as the media specialist representative for her district’s committee on middle school transition, which affects thousands of students.
Jessica’s diverse educational background includes earning a bachelor of fine arts degree in 2005 from the world-renowned School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was honored by being the recipient of the Merit Grant. After graduation, she moved to California to work for a privately owned digital archivist company that supported artists’ work from across the country. While working as a digital archivist, Jessica earned a master’s degree in library and information science from San Jose State University in 2013. Since moving back to Illinois, she has earned a professional educator’s license from Dominican University and has worked as a library media specialist at several Illinois public schools.
Bilingual broadcast and journalism teacher
Alba Mendiola, a dedicated educator and experienced journalist, teaches Spanish-language arts and broadcast journalism to Spanish heritage speaker students at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago. Before transitioning to the classroom, Alba had an 18-year successful career as a Spanish television reporter at Telemundo Chicago and Televisión Azteca in Veracruz, Mexico. Her investigative work earned her the prestigious Chicago Regional Emmy Award seven times, showcasing her dedication and talent in journalism. In 2021, Alba received an American Association of University Women grant, further acknowledging her commitment to professional development and growth. Her passion for education also led to her being named the Alan C. Miller Educator of the Year in 2023 by the News Literacy Project.
Born and raised in Mexico, Alba takes pride in her immigrant background. She holds a bachelor of science degree in communications from the prestigious institution Tec de Monterrey. More recently, she graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a master’s degree in teaching, earning her professional educator’s license.
Beyond her roles as an educator and journalist, Alba actively engages with various organizations and institutions. She has served as a speaker, panelist and moderator at conferences organized by nonprofit organizations, universities and schools in both the United States and Mexico.
Michigan (Traverse City)
Educational technology coach
Danelle Brostrom is a K-12 educational technology coach for Traverse City Area Public Schools in Traverse City, Michigan. She also has worked as an elementary teacher, reading specialist and principal intern. Danelle was named by the International Society for Technology in Education as one of “20 to Watch in 2023” and is currently serving on the board of directors for the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning. She is the co-creator of the WIREDTC EdTech Conference and co-host of the Traverse City Area Public Schools’ Loop Weekly Podcast.
She is a certified Google trainer and an expert in digital wellness, technology ethics and student privacy. She has extensive experience designing and leading engaging learning opportunities for staff, students and parents. She is well-versed in technology trends and applies a forward-thinking mindset so schools can best support all students.
New Jersey (Holmdel)
Steve Tetreault (TAY-tro) has been a teacher since 1998 and is currently a librarian at William R. Satz Middle School in Holmdel, New Jersey. After more than 20 years as an English language arts teacher for grades 7-12, Steve created and taught a required information literacy class for his seventh graders and made the transition into the library. Steve is a monthly contributor to the American Association of School Librarians’ Knowledge Quest site and was the host of the second season of School Library Connection’s One Lesson at a Time podcast.
Steve has written for School Library Connection, Knowledge Quest, Publisher’s Weekly, American Libraries and other publications. He created SchoolLibrarianLearningNetwork.org, a site that collects free learning opportunities and resources of interest to school librarians. He is the chair of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians’ Professional Development Committee, as well as an amateur guitarist whose passion outpaces his skills. He has a master’s of education degree (2006) and a doctor of education degree (2014) in educational administration and supervision, as well as a master’s degree in library and information science (2019).
New Jersey (Princeton)
Math, science and critical media literacy teacher
Aish is a former journalist turned Montessori teacher at Princeton Montessori School in New Jersey. She teaches math and science for upper elementary students and critical media literacy for middle school students. She holds an undergraduate degree in physics, a master’s in English literature and a post-graduate diploma in journalism from the prestigious Asian College of Journalism in India. She also holds a Montessori diploma for Elementary I and II. Prior to her teaching career, Aish spent six years as a senior journalist with The Hindu, a leading English-language daily in India. Her journalistic journey, marked by over 300 published articles ranging from news reports to book reviews and feature stories, focused on rural education and the realms of arts and culture.
This year, she was selected as one of 40 people in the United States to participate at the U40 Summit hosted by the American Montessori Society, where she collaborated on innovative approaches to shape the future of Montessori education. Aish is a regular contributor of education articles to AMS’s Montessori Life and its blog.
As a first-generation immigrant and a mother of two daughters, Aish is passionately dedicated to educating adolescents about information and misinformation in the digital age. She is committed to empowering her students to become change agents in society, arming them with the skills to navigate a complex world with discernment and wisdom.
Sara E. Gonzales
Journalism teacher and advisor
Sara E. Gonzales is a journalism advisor and teacher for Patricia E. Paetow High School in Katy, Texas. Her school’s publications have received national recognition and won the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s Crown award and Interscholastic League Press Conference’s Star award. She has been recognized as a Journalism Education Association Diversity Award nominee and as an American Society of News Editors emerging leader. She has recently been named a 2023 UNT Scripps Howard Fund teaching ambassador. Sara received her bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Texas State University-San Marcos. She had an area of emphasis in electronic media and a minor in photography. Prior to graduating from college, Sara was a photographer for former President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Currently, she serves as the Houston leader for the Online News Association and was the only teacher out of the country accepted into the American Society of News Editors Emerging Leaders Institute. Sara Gonzales was also the only high school journalism advisor in the world to present at the World Journalism Education Congress in Paris, France, on diversity in scholastic journalism.
TuesD Chambers serves as a teacher librarian at Ballard High School in Seattle Public Schools. She has been an educator for over 24 years and earned her master’s in education in professional development and leadership with a media library endorsement. She teaches digital leadership, literacy and 21st-century skills to students and was chosen as the Washington State Teacher Librarian of the Year for 2019.
She has presented at the International Society for Technology in Education, South by Southwest EDU, and Oculus Connect 6 about the intentional use of technology to impact the learning and culture of a school. She is a firm believer in the power of collaboration and works with teachers and librarians to create student-centered classrooms in her role as a content library specialist and adjunct professor for Antioch University. She loves to connect with other passionate educational leaders and welcomes the outreach.
About the News Literacy Project
The News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan national education nonprofit, provides programs and resources for educators and the public to teach, learn and share the abilities needed to be smart, active consumers of news and information and equal and engaged participants in a democracy.