Full Circle: Student Journalist to Journalist to Journalism Educator
Written by Sarah Scott
Matt Schott has been teaching at Francis Howell Central High School for more than a decade, but he didn’t take a direct path to teaching. He shared his story with Behind the Byline hosts Evan Blackwell and Jenica Hallman. You can listen to their conversation at walsworthyearbooks.com/podcasts.
Schott began his journalism journey in his Chicago-area high school. He covered sports at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois.
“I had a really fantastic teacher there,” said Schott.
The scholastic journalism continued at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, where he started at the school paper his sophomore year. He became an assistant sports editor his sophomore year, and was sports editor his junior year. This is also where he began learning about design.
After graduation, Schott worked all over the country as a journalist.
He started in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he met Behind the Byline host Evan Blackwell. While in St. Joseph, he started writing but also developed his design skills. After a while, he was promoted to design editor.
“Those three years doing that job, I learned so much about every aspect of publishing there because design just touches everything,” he shared. From St. Joseph, Schott moved back to Chicago, then moved to Key West, Florida. Eventually, he came back to Chicago, where he worked for the highly respected Chicago Tribune. Eventually, he decided it was time for a change.
“I’m teaching journalism and only journalism. I would not be a good English teacher or anything like that.”
Schott decided to move from journalism to teaching journalism due in part to the stress and odd hours the jobs required. It didn’t hurt that his girlfriend (who is now his wife) lived in St. Louis, while he was based in Chicago.
His friend knew a fellow teacher in the Francis Howell district didn’t want to teach journalism anymore, so Schott applied and got the job. He is now in his 14th year at Francis Howell Central High School.
Schott oversees the school’s many publications and productions – including yearbook, the newspaper, podcasts and a new television series one of the students pushed to do. One of his students is even pushing to restart the school’s literary magazine.
“I’m able to take this in any direction, so long as the kids want to go along with it,” he said.
He had to learn to teach, rather than just doing a task for a student.
“It was difficult to go from working as a professional, and just recalibrating how you would teach something,” said Schott.
He learned to teach, and is doing a great job of it. His yearbook staffs have won numerous awards over his tenure.
“I just think that’s something the field has dictated,” Schott said in reference to ever-changing opportunities to learn. He keeps up with what’s happening in the field so he can teach his students skills they need to know.
“It’s a field that’s changed so much. You have to be willing to learn what’s coming or what people are using.”
You can hear Schott’s entire conversation with the Behind the Byline hosts at walsworthyearbooks.com/podcasts. You can also find their conversation wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.