Students Disrupting's Teacher Fellowship
COVID-19 Update: As the situation with the novel Coronavirus evolves, we are closely monitoring the potential long-term impact on New York City schools and assessing our own capacity to fundraise, plan programming, and execute on the fellowship. As of now, our plan is to partner with approximately five fellows starting in the 2020-2021 school year. However, we want to be transparent that due to the virus, we may need to adjust the scale or design of our program. We encourage educators to complete the fellowship application if they are interested in joining our community and receiving support in starting a school newspaper, acknowledging that the support might be different from what is described below. At a minimum, we will be able to provide individualized coaching and ad hoc support to schools. In a best case scenario, we will also host monthly professional development workshops and provide stipends as originally planned. We will continue to post updates to this page regarding the structure of the fellowship, and please feel free to reach out with any questions in the meantime. We wish everyone health and safety in this difficult time.
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To bring more newspapers to more New York City public schools, Students Disrupting is piloting a year-long fellowship, which will develop a cohort of educators to start, lead, and sustain journalism programs at their schools. The fellowship will begin in August 2020 and end in June 2021. Fellows will receive training and support from Students Disrupting as they launch their newspaper programs during the 2020-2021 school year.
We believe in an educator-focused model because educators:
Know their students best and can adapt a newspaper to fit their school’s needs
Provide stability and continuity, serving as anchors for the newspaper program even as the students involved graduate
Fellows Will Receive:
Monthly workshops on student journalism, taught by professionals in the field
Guidance in designing and launching their newspaper programs
Continued check-ins from Students Disrupting for one year after the fellowship ends
A network of like-minded educators with whom to share ideas, provide feedback, and offer support
A participation stipend
Fellows Will Commit To:
Attending our monthly workshops
Starting a school newspaper program along the timeline specified by the fellowship
Ensuring the newspaper program continues for at least two years (including the fellowship year)
Schools Will Commit To:
Backing the fellow’s vision for the newspaper program or co-creating that vision alongside the fellow
Giving the newspaper staff (led by the fellow) full editorial autonomy
Funding newspaper expenses (such as printing costs) for the first two years (including the fellowship year)
We are looking to work with schools that are eager to host a newspaper program and are seeking support in kick-starting the process. Please see our FAQ section below for details about the school financial commitment and ways to minimize newspaper expenses.
You can access our application here. Applications are due April 6, and Students Disrupting will reach out to a pool of finalists by April 20. Finalists will be asked to provide school-based references and complete in-person interviews. Selected fellows will be notified by June 1.
Applicants must work at a public school (Department of Education or charter) in the New York City metropolitan area
Our program is geared toward high school teachers in NYC, but we will consider applications from middle school educators as well. We will also consider applications from teachers who work at public schools outside NYC but within the tri-state area, as long as they can travel to Manhattan for our workshops.
You can apply if you work at an eligible school in a non-instructional capacity (e.g. school counselor or administrator)
Applicants must plan on remaining at their schools for at least two years (including the fellowship year)
Frequently Asked Questions
What traits are you looking for in fellows? What makes a strong application?
We are looking for candidates/applications with the following characteristics:
Passion for journalism and a strong appreciation for the ways a school newspaper can positively impact a community
A firm belief in empowering students as leaders and writers
Experience within a school community and a commitment to remaining at that school for an extended period of time
A clear and well thought out vision for the school newspaper program and how it will be sustained over the years, considering costs, student engagement, and more. We expect (and encourage!) that fellows’ ideas will change throughout the fellowship, but we are looking for those who have put in the time to craft a detailed proposal as a starting point.
Experience teaching English Language Arts, journalism, or related subjects is a plus
Experience with project management, running school clubs, or starting new programs is also a plus
When and where will the workshops take place?
We are still finalizing our calendar and location, but the fellowship workshops will begin in August 2020 and will take place once a month through June 2021. Workshops will be held in NYC on weekends for about three hours. Selected fellows will know the final dates before they need to commit to the program.
I’m worried I might have a conflict with some of the workshop dates. Should I still apply?
We require participation in all fellowship activities, but in extenuating circumstances we can arrange for you to complete some work remotely. If you’re worried about your availability in one particular month, please still apply and describe the potential conflict at the end of your application. If you have ongoing conflicts (for instance, if you are enrolled in a graduate program that meets on weekends, or if you are often out of town on weekends), please reach out to us and we can discuss whether it makes sense for you to apply.
Do you have a preference for print versus online newspapers?
We are equally excited by both! We are looking for thoughtful proposals that make the case for why one format (or a combination) is the best fit for your specific school context. This rationale could be based on cost, audience, available resources, student interest, etc.
Do you have a preference for during-school or after-school newspaper production?
Again, we are open to any format (or combination of formats), including in-school elective classes, extracurricular clubs, or other time slots (e.g. during lunch or before school). Be creative! Please clearly explain why the format you chose works best for your school in terms of scheduling, student involvement, cost, etc.
Can I apply with another staff member at my school if we want to run the newspaper program together?
We will gladly consider applications from pairs of educators at a single school, though groups larger than two are not allowed. In your application, please make the case for why you would be a strong team, including how you would share responsibilities and what experiences and perspectives you each bring to the table. Please note that our fellowship stipend is distributed per school, not per fellow, so you would need to split the funding if applying as a team of two.
Can I apply if my school already has a newspaper program, one that I would like to revamp or expand?
The goal of the fellowship is to support the creation of robust, thriving newspaper programs that have a deep and sustained impact on their school communities. If you believe your school’s existing newspaper is not meeting that goal and have a vision for how to improve the program’s current structure, you may apply to the fellowship. In your application, please explain why a dramatic redesign of the program is necessary and describe what these changes would look like in as much detail as possible.
Can I apply if I want to start a literary magazine or other type of publication?
Right now, our program is solely focused on school newspapers. However, your newspaper could include a creative section featuring students’ stories, personal essays, and artwork. Please feel free to pitch out-of-the-box ideas for what types of writing your newspaper might highlight, so long as it will be first and foremost a journalistic publication.
Do I need my school’s approval in order to apply?
Not necessarily, but you will need to collaborate with your administration (in terms of scheduling, funding, etc.) if selected. We view principals as dedicated partners in starting school journalism programs, providing the resources and support that will help a newspaper thrive. Therefore, we prefer that applicants discuss this fellowship with school administration in advance. In your application, please be sure to mention any partnerships you have already formed with your school.
How much funding will Students Disrupting provide me and/or the newspaper program, and what will this fellowship cost my school?
Students Disrupting will provide a participation stipend to fellows during their fellowship year. The stipend will likely be in the range of $500-$750, but the final amount will be determined by the level of funding we receive as an organization from donors and foundations. We highly value teachers’ work and are committed to providing as generous a stipend as possible.
In addition to the fellow stipend, we hope to provide a one-time sum (also in the range of $500-$750) to each school to purchase newspaper supplies such as office materials, cameras, and design software.
Beyond that, the school will be responsible for the ongoing costs of running a newspaper for the first two years of the program (including the fellowship year). These costs might include printing fees, website domain hosting, or a standard teacher stipend for running an after-school club.
At the same time, we are committed to helping reduce ongoing costs and making the newspaper financially sustainable. Some suggestions (which we encourage you to consider and incorporate as you craft your application) are:
Running the program during school hours (as an elective or study hall option) rather than after-school
Making the paper online-only, which will be far less expensive than a print publication
Forming a student-run business team to sell advertisements and/or solicit donations for the newspaper
As an organization, we will also try to negotiate bulk discounts for relevant services (e.g. printing) when applicable.
What if my school can’t commit to financially supporting the newspaper?
We don’t want a school’s inability to pay to affect its participation in the fellowship, but we cannot provide any funding beyond the amounts detailed above. We also want your school to demonstrate a real commitment to the newspaper program, and making a financial investment is an important way to do that. If you reach out to us, we would be glad to brainstorm ways to make a newspaper program financially feasible for your school (in addition to the ideas in the previous response).
How many fellows will be selected for the first cohort?
The final number of fellows will depend on the number of strong applications received and the resources we as an organization are able to access. We expect the fellowship to include approximately five teachers.
Why the two-year commitment (fellowship year + one additional year)?
Our goal is that in two years’ time the newspaper becomes ingrained in the school to the extent that the community feels invested in continuing it, even if teacher advisors or funding circumstances change. At that point, the paper will simply be an established feature of the school, like any other long-running club or program. Students Disrupting’s support will no longer be needed, and we can focus on starting new journalism programs in additional schools.
What do the check-ins from Students Disrupting look like after the fellowship year?
Check-ins and support from Students Disrupting after the fellowship year will vary with each school. Fellows can expect a phone call or school visit about once a month, depending on what the fellow finds helpful. Check-ins will involve resource sharing, troubleshooting, growth strategy, business planning, editorial advice, and more.
Can I apply if I work at an elementary school?
Unfortunately we are not yet offering programming for elementary school educators. If that changes, we will post an announcement on our website. We still encourage you to email us to express your interest!
Can I apply if I work at a private school?
Right now, our fellowship only serves public schools (Department of Education schools and charter schools). If we expand our programming, we will post an announcement on our website. In the meantime, contact us to let us know you’re interested!
Who will lead the workshops?
The workshops will be led by a variety of professionals in the education and journalism worlds along with Students Disrupting staff.
I would like to support the fellowship. What are my options?
First of all, thank you! We welcome both monetary and in-kind donations ranging from journalism supplies (reporters’ notebooks, office supplies, cameras, etc.) to space where we could host our workshops. (We are pending 501(c)(3) certification, at which point donations will be tax-deductible.) Please reach out if you would like to discuss ways to contribute to our work.
We would also appreciate your help in spreading the word about this opportunity—feel free to post about the fellowship (application linked here) on social media and in your networks. Lastly, you can complete our short newspaper data survey so we can gather information about the state of student journalism in New York City.
Who should I reach out to with additional questions about the fellowship or if I would like to get involved as a workshop leader?
Please contact Fellowship Director Jackie Schechter at firstname.lastname@example.org.