News Literacy Ambassador Program welcomes six new educators

The News Literacy Ambassador Program is a national initiative to mobilize educators in the fight against misinformation and is a key component of NLP’s NewsLitNation, a network of news literacy educators. Ambassadors are essential to NLP’s effort to build a more news-literate nation, and, in turn, a more robust, equitable democracy.

Ambassadors work at the grassroots level in their communities, organizing colleagues and allies to help advocate for news literacy education. Their work is critical to turning NLP’s mission into a movement with a transformative impact on young people around the nation.

“Educators around the country often feel like they are alone in this journey, so being able to connect with a fellow educator who can relate to their experiences, knows the local education landscape and has the expertise needed to help them succeed helps empower and expand their capacity,” said Miriam Romais, director, NewsLitNation. “The ability to recognize credible information is a critical life skill, and in many areas of the country teachers lack access to quality teaching resources that are free and nonpartisan. We aim to help fill that gap.”

NLP has expanded this program to 16 ambassadors, recently welcoming six educators in key states from Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas and Utah.

Meet our new ambassadors below and visit NewsLit Nation to learn more about the entire group.

Juan Alvarado, high school ELA Educator, Texas

Juan was born and raised in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and emigrated to South Texas with his parents in 1988. He teaches at Valley View High School in Pharr-Hidalgo, Texas, as an English, STEM and Pre-AP teacher. In 2017 Alvarado became the high school journalism and ready-writing coach, and one year later his students won the first-ever Academic District Championship title in journalism.

Juan Armijo, director of social studies, New Mexico

Juan teaches AP United States government, as well as politics and principles of democracy, at Mayfield High School in the Las Cruces Public Schools System. He has participated in the development of the new Social Studies Standards and Benchmarks (High School Civics) for the state of New Mexico and was part of the Materials Review Institute for the adoption of a new social studies textbook.

Jocelyn Burlew, learning experience designer, Ohio

Jocelyn uses culturally responsive practices to cultivate a classroom environment that places students at the heart of the learning process. She taught fifth grade English Language Arts and middle school social studies. She recently designed a middle school elective focused on digital, information and media literacy to help students become competent, literate, informed participants in society.

David Doerr, high school journalism and career and technology education teacher, Texas

David has taught journalism and career and technology classes in the Austin Independent School District since 2010, serving as a faculty adviser for student publications. He is the chair of the Texas Association of Journalism Educators’ Legislative Committee and Policy Committee. TAJE supports the efforts of scholastic journalism by providing conventions, contests and resources to teachers and students.

Lesli Morris, ELA teacher, Utah

Lesli is a high school ELA teacher and instructional system design specialist for Canyons School District in Sandy, Utah. She has taught high school in a variety of settings — from youth in custody to a National Blue Ribbon high school. One of her goals is to relentlessly promote diversity and pursue equity in education through access to quality curriculum and by supporting teachers with research-based instructional practices.

Sean Scanlon, director of curriculum, Illinois

Sean, who has a master’s in educational leadership, is the director of curriculum and instruction at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois. He created the Catholic EdTech Summit and hosted EdCamp Chicago. His passion is to help teachers integrate technology in ways that can engage students, while also helping them navigate the ever-shifting landscape of news literacy.

Mission to movement: Quarterly updates on NLP’s movement building work

September – December 2022

Each quarter, the Movement Building work updates will keep you in tune with the efforts of NLP and our educator network toward making media literacy education a priority across the U.S. and creating a future founded on facts.

Our community of invested supporters enables NLP’s work, both inside and outside of the classroom. This commitment and interest allow us to continue to influence the media literacy landscape and fuel an achievable national initiative that equips people of all backgrounds with knowledge and skills to be active, informed participants in civic life.

Jump to:

Movement Builders in the Field

Media Literacy Education Landscape.

Movement Builders in the Field

NLP’s NewsLitNation News Literacy Ambassadors and district partners defend democracy and promote news literacy in their classrooms and at the school district level.

District Fellowship program

NLP’s District Fellowship program brings together district leaders to build a sustainable and actionable plan for news literacy education implementation in their districts. During their two-year commitment to this program, fellows perform a needs-assessment and identify the grades and disciplines in their districts best suited for news/media literacy integration. They then work with NLP to create a scalable implementation plan.

  • Check out the new District Fellowship program webpage! Here, you can explore more about how our fellows are affecting media literacy education at the district level.
  • We selected and met with the first fellowship cohort of 17 district leaders from five school districts in July, and since then each district has developed a working team of up to 10 people from within their districts. They have been determining which grade levels and discipline areas they want to target for their news literacy instruction implementation plan.
  • To date, we have held three all-cohort convenings and each district has met one-on-one with NLP staff (all meetings to date have been virtual). In August, the cohort met with CEO Chuck Salter and Peter Adams, our senior vice president of research and design, to learn more about NLP’s vision and mission and the design of NLP’s news literacy instruction resources.
  • The next all-cohort meeting was held in October, and NLP staff conducted a training on best practices for communicating within their districts and communities about the importance of news literacy instruction.

Ambassador Updates

The News Literacy Ambassador Program supports local community organizing efforts to fight misinformation and pursue a mutual objective of creating a more news-literate generation of news consumers. Connect with an ambassador near you for events, presentations and to discuss the unique needs of educators in your school district or region.

  • Six new ambassadors were added to the program, expanding it to a total of 16 news literacy ambassadors around the country! New ambassadors include:Juan Armijo (NM) Grade 9-12 – Civics, Govt, History, Social Studies
    Jocelyn Burlew (OH) Grade 6-8 – History, Digital/Media Literacy
    Lesli Morris (UT) Grade 9-12 – English/ELA
    Sean Scanlon (IL) Grade 9-12 – Administrator, Social Studies
    David Doerr (TX) Grade 9-12 – Journalism / Photojournalism, Digital Media, Graphic Design, Newspaper Production
    Juan Alvarado (TX) Grade 9-12 – English/ELA.

Read more about the six new ambassadors here.

  • TX ambassador David Doerr presented his first news literacy event in October at The Texas Association of Journalism Educators Fall Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
  • PA Ambassador Deborah Domingues-Murphy hosted a table at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit Social Studies Conference in October.
  • NLP’s news literacy ambassador and librarian media specialist K.C. Boyd was honored at the School Library Journal (SLJ) Leadership Summit as the school librarian of the year in November.
  • You can now find out more about PitchIt!, NLP’s student essay contest series, on our new landing page! Educators can use this resource for contest details, updates on contests cities, winners, insights from other educators, and more.
  • We are now hosting NewsLitNation Happy Hour engagement events at various conferences throughout the year to connect ambassadors with NLP staff in-person, and to recruit more educators to NewsLitNation.
    • Happy Hour events have been hosted at the SLJ Leadership Summit, the National Council for the Social Studies Conference, and more, with over 100 educators engaged.

Texas Educator, Celaina Huckeba

Ohio ambassador Jocelyn Burlew

Partnership Spotlight

  • NLP’s Senior Manager of Educator Professional Learning Alexa Volland and Senior Manager of Education Partnerships (East Coast) Brittney Smith held a virtual professional development training for about 70 principals and assistant principals from Community School District 10 in the Bronx, New York, which serves 57 schools K-12.
  • NLP partnered with Senior Planet from AARP and the National Institute for Civil Discourse to help the public survive Thanksgiving with the webinar, Productive conversations without confrontation. This virtual event had over 500 attendees!
  • In December, NLP held a NewsLitCamp®, our professional learning event where teachers, librarians and other educators across all subjects connect directly with journalists and hone their ability to teach students how to sort fact from fiction. The event in Philadelphia was co-hosted with WHYY and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • NLP’s Senior Manager of Community Learning DeMario Phipps-Smith traveled to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida for a full-day training for instructors at the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy.
  • DeMario is also cultivating NLP’s renewed relationship with Urban Rural Action.
  • We have new partnerships in the works! These developing relationships include Sacramento County Office of Education, Ohio Department of Education, Atlanta Public Schools, New Jersey Department of Education, Spencer School District (IA), Alabama Department of Education, Cleveland, and Ohio Catholic Schools.

Media Literacy Education Landscape: Updates and Movement Wins

Through a partnership with Media Literacy Now, NLP receives monthly reports that provide a status update for all bills and laws related to media literacy, news literacy and digital citizenship in each state and at the federal level.

Current Landscape Snapshot

States mandating some form of media literacy education prior to graduation (Tier 1): Illinois, Texas, New Jersey

States currently providing funding for media literacy education (Tier 2): Colorado, New Mexico, Hawaii, California, Pennsylvania, Utah, Iowa, Florida, Ohio, Washington, Connecticut, and Michigan

Other states with statutes encouraging media literacy: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington

Read more about the education landscape here.

Movement wins

New Jersey is now a Tier 1 focus among our priority educator engagement states!

This means that New Jersey schools will mandate some form of media literacy education prior to graduation.

New Jersey moved up in our ranks in late November when Governor Phil Murphy signed bill S588, making it the first state in the U.S. to mandate media literacy curriculums from kindergarten through grade 12.

“This bill ensures that 1.3 million public school students in New Jersey will be better prepared for life beyond school with key skills that help them with lifelong learning, civic participation, and work skills,” said Olga Polites, leader, New Jersey Chapter of Media Literacy Now and NLP partner.

Ebonee Rice, NLP’s senior vice president of educator engagement, applauded the development. “It is so important that students are equipped to confidently navigate today’s information landscape, and this is a great first step.”


June – August 2022

Each quarter, through these updates, we’ll keep you in tune with the work our network of educators is doing and how that work is shifting the media literacy education landscape across the U.S. to create a future founded on facts.

Our community of invested supporters makes NLP ’s work both inside and outside of the classroom possible. And our stakeholders’ commitment and interest allow us to continue to impact the emerging media literacy movement and fuel an achievable national initiative that equips people of all backgrounds for active civic life

Jump to:

Movement Builders in the Field

Media Literacy Education Landscape.

Movement Builders in the Field

NLP’s NewsLitNation News Literacy Ambassadors and district partners defend democracy and promote news literacy in their classrooms and at the school district level.

District Fellowship program

NLP’s District Fellowship program brings together district leaders to build a sustainable and actionable plan for news literacy education implementation in their districts. During their two-year commitment to this program, fellows perform a needs-assessment and identify the grades and disciplines in their districts best suited for news/media literacy integration. They then work with NLP to create a scalable implementation plan.

  • NLP launched the application process and selected five districts to make up cohort one of the District Fellowship program:
    • Canyons School District in Sandy, Utah.
    • Greater Albany Public Schools in Albany, Oregon.
    • Iowa City Community School District in Iowa City, Iowa.
    • Las Cruces Public Schools in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
    • North Salem Central School District in North Salem, New York.

Ambassador Updates

The News Literacy Ambassador Program supports local community organizing efforts to fight misinformation and pursue a mutual objective of creating a more news-literate generation of news consumers. Connect with an ambassador near you for events, presentations and to discuss the unique needs of educators in your school district or region.

  • In June, with the help of news literacy ambassador Amanda Escheman, NLP, the Colorado Education Association and the Colorado Sun wrapped up a cosponsored three-part web series designed to help teachers navigate news literacy curriculums. Watch all three webinars here!
  • For the 2021-22 school year, NLP’s ambassadors held 26 events — workshops, webinars, presentations, panel discussions, student contests and community meetings — reaching 3,828 educators and librarians. This represents more than four times the number of educators reached last year.

Partnership Spotlight

  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools and NLP hosted the PitchIt! essay writing contest to empower students to be civically informed and engaged. Essay topics covered some of the most important issues of our time and explored how students can help combat misinformation or work to protect freedom of the press. Over 100 students participated, with 15 finalists and eight winners.
  • In partnership with the New York City Department of Education, NLP held a PitchIt! contest with 100 student participants. Read more here.
  • NLP is a Flip Discovery Partner! Flip (formerly known as Flipgrid) by Microsoft is a social learning platform that allows educators to interactively explore lessons and resources and share them with students. NLP’s education team has developed 77 topics and 9 collections on Flip for educators, resulting in over 147 hours of video response engagement with members of the Flip community. Check it out here.
  • NLP’s research and design team collaborated with our partner, the New York Department of Education’s Civics for All team to create a Confirmation Bias & Motivated Reasoning infographic to be shared in schools and classrooms across the district. Check it out here.
  • We’re expanding! Our most recently secured partnerships include the Oregon Department of Education, Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Institution, Forward Learning of Puerto Rico and Hawaii Department of Education.

Media Literacy Education Landscape: Updates and Movement Wins

Through a partnership with Media Literacy Now, NLP receives monthly reports that provide a status update for all bills and laws related to media literacy, news literacy and digital citizenship in each state and at the federal level.

Current Landscape Snapshot

We’ll keep you up to date on the latest district, state and federal media literacy education standards changes.

States mandating some form of media literacy education prior to graduation: Illinois, Texas
States currently providing funding for media literacy education: Connecticut, Michigan, New Mexico, Utah, Washington
Other states with statutes encouraging media literacy: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Washington
Read more about the education landscape here.

Movement wins

Los Angeles Unified School District is a longtime partner of NLP and recently identified news and media literacy as an essential skill for all students, grades K-12, and as a graduation requirement as part of Critical Mass Media studies. The district has designated NLP’s Checkology® virtual classroom as a preferred curriculum to acquire these skills. Dharma Hernandez, coordinator of professional development design, Division of Instruction, meets monthly with NLP’s senior director of partnership strategy to determine next steps to ensure a successful district implementation of NLP resources and programs. She advocates for Checkology in the district and has begun conversations with the Science and STEM departments to include our new set of lessons.