Who are we?
Founded in the summer of 2015, The New Orleans Media Literacy Project was begun by two New Orleans middle and upper school counselors and educators, Mimi Ryan and Michael Y. Simon.
More important: We hope that the Media Literacy Project will include YOU. This Project is an invitation to create a community and partnership of educators, researchers, students, parents, and mental health professionals interested in advancing media literacy education in the greater New Orleans area. Please contact us if you'd like to become part of this partnership.
About Mimi and Michael
Mimi Ryan is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), longtime secondary school educator and currently a middle and upper school counselor at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans. Mimi has taught Human Development to 11-18 year-olds for many years, and has a keen understanding of the ways in which media use impacts family life. She helps families negotiate the opportunities and risks surrounding digital media use in the home and at school. An engaging speaker, Mimi presents to a wide variety of audiences and has provided workshops to organizations like the Play Therapy Association and the National Association of Independent Schools.
Michael Y. Simon has worked as a psychotherapist for close to two decades, and in the independent school counseling world as a counselor and consultant for many years. In 1998 he founded Practical Help for Parents, a resource community for parents, educators and mental health professionals who work daily in support of teens. In 2012 he published The Approximate Parent: Discovering the Strategies That Work with Your Teenager, in order to bring to parents and educators more powerful ways of supporting the teens in their lives. That work was heavily research-based and one of the first works to provide a view of adolescent development in America that was linked to an understanding of how digital media use is shaping adolescent identity development.
Mimi and Michael work daily with youth and families and over the last decade have come to understand how deeply the day-to-day lives of families are shaped by the digital world, at the very time that youth are utilizing digital tools and technologies to create and understand their own lives. Adolescents and pre-adolescents especially come to know themselves by connecting through the world of social media. But much of this world is given to them already in the form of television, film, radio, and websites that they access daily via cellphone, tablet and laptop computers. In order not to simply be "subject" to these messages, they need to learn to analyze and decode the constant stream of messages and then to create and disseminate their own, based upon their own and their family's ethics and values. This is what Media Literacy is all about.
We believe that youth and families must have the means to understand more about the bi-directional influence and impact of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies). ICT (information and communications technology - or technologies) is "...an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning."