Skip to Main Content

Teach for Chicago Journalism

As part of Medill’s ongoing commitment to local journalism, Medill is developing programs to support area high school students and teachers. We offer several initiatives to do this.

Teach for Chicago Journalism 

Teach for Chicago Journalism is dedicated to supporting and expanding scholastic journalism in Chicago. Through teacher trainings, outreach, mentoring, and hosting the Scholastic Press Association of Chicago TFCJ supports advisors and students in their efforts to create a forum for free and responsible student media.

Teach for Chicago Journalism falls under the Metro Media Lab at Medill. The Metro Media Lab focuses on engaging with local news outlets through initiatives that help support the journalists and public they serve. The lab helps local news organizations:

  • Better engage with its readers.
  • Provide quality journalism.
  • Strengthen their sustainability through research and training. 

Teach for Chicago Journalism supports the mission of the Metro Media Lab through engaging strategic partnerships with educational organizations and schools in the Chicago area that support youth civic engagement and media literacy practices. The program sees these as means for engaging and training the next generation of news consumers as well as a pathway for emerging youth journalists.


Scholastic Press Association of Chicago 

The Scholastic Press Association of Chicago students and teachers

The Scholastic Press Association of Chicago (SPAC) is a place for Chicago advisors and students to work collaboratively in support of scholastic journalism. SPAC moved to its current home at Northwestern University in 2021. The organization serves Chicago public and private high school journalism teachers, advisors and students through the following actions.

  • Provides opportunities for collaboration among teachers.
  • Promotes collaboration between scholastic journalism, the news media, and local colleges and universities.
  • Promotes racial and ethnic diversity of student publications.
  • Emphasizes the importance of school journalism as a forum for free and responsible student expression, discussion and exchange.
  • Fosters a high sense of personal, school and civic responsibility among student journalists.

Annually, SPAC hosts the McCormick Foundation High School Media Competition, consisting of the online award contest and the write-off competition. The participating schools meet every spring for student workshops, a keynote speaker and an award ceremony.

In addition to the competitions and workshops, SPAC also awards the Chicago Journalist of the Year Scholarship, which includes $1500 for the recipient, a Principal of the Year award, one teacher fellowship and one student fellowship. The Principal of the Year award recognizes an administrator who has championed scholastic journalism in his or her school and awards $500 to their school’s journalism program. The fellowships award each recipient a scholarship to continue their journalism training. Since the mid-2000s, SPAC has been the beneficiary of a McCormick Foundation grant focused on enhancing high school journalism, which has sponsored the scholarships, awards and conferences.

All public, private, and parochial schools located in the City of Chicago are invited to join the Scholastic Press Association of Chicago. There are no membership dues or contest fees.

Members must complete this form each school year to ensure they are included in all communications.

The 2024 Conference will be held at Medill’s Chicago campus in late March of 2024.

SPAC Officers
President- David Strom, Lane Tech College Prep
Vice-President – Marria Rahim, Butler College Prep
Secretary – Tamara Robbins, Kennedy High School


Speakers Bureau 

Through the Speaker’s Bureau, Chicago area teachers can connect with over 60 volunteers from the media industry and invite them to speak to their students. The list of volunteers includes reporters, producers, editors, photographers, on-air talent and more. Speakers are available virtually or in-person to speak about their careers, current work, and much more.

To participate as a host or volunteer, please email Teach for Chicago Journalism.



In the 2023-2024 school year, Teach for Chicago Journalism is creating partnerships with several Chicago high schools to create student publications. Support ranges from curriculum development, teacher mentoring, consulting, and development of in-school and after-school programs for students.


Teach for Chicago Journalism Advisor Academy

Teachers and advisors participating in Teach for Chicago Journalism

Teach for Chicago Journalism provides free professional development to Chicago-area teachers and advisors. Training topics included how to create a podcast, media law and newsroom organization. Local teachers and advisors who attend the two-day training have the opportunity to work on curriculum development, learn from one another and interact with Medill faculty and staff.

The next training will be in June 2024.

Past projects

Medill Media Teens 

This direct service program provides intensive training for Chicago Public School students looking to enhance their journalism education beyond school-based learning. In 2021-22, Medill Media Teens received mentoring from Medill Masters students to produce high level journalism products. Here are a few pieces that came out of that session


Tim Franklin

Tim Franklin

Director, Metro Media Lab
Oversees TFCJ, the Media Management Program and the Midwest Solutions Journalism Hub
Mike Spikes

Michael Spikes

Director, Teach for Chicago Journalism
Katina paron.

Katina Paron

Manager, Teach for Chicago Journalism
katina.paron@northwestern.eduParon's Bio
Katie Fernandez.

Katie Fernandez

Senior Program Coordinator, Teach for Chicago Journalism