Empowering Students to Find their Voice with Dennis Mihalsky

Episode Summary

Today, Maria talks with Dennis Mihalsky, a New York public school teacher and the president & executive director of Students Disrupting. Do you know that barely 1 out of 10 public schools in New York City, the media capital of the world, has a student newspaper? Dennis founded Students Disrupting to bring student-run newspapers to every high school in the city. Through training, advising, and supporting students, teachers, and administrators, he is helping them find their voice, deepen their thought, and seek the truth. Dennis talks about his school principal who considered the curriculum in every classroom with an open mind and empowered him to develop risk-taking approaches to his teaching. The three-step process to launch the newspaper in each school is a powerful approach for any change we seek to create. It’s based on community roundtables and pilot programs, followed by implementation. Tune in to hear Dennis’ inspiring commitment to education, community engagement and youth leadership development.

Episode Notes

Production team:

Host : Maria Xenidou

Producer: Julie-Roxane Krikorian

Introduction Voice: David Bourne


Contact us:


Music credits:

Like Lee performed by The Mini Vandals

Transition sounds: Swamp Walks performed by Jingle Punks


Where to find Dennis Mihalsky:


Students Disrupting - the website

Donate to Students Disrupting

Reach out to Dennis if you know anyone that might benefit or if you have any thoughts or feedback


Mentioned in this episode:

Pace University

Gale Brewer - Manhattan Borough President


Listen to this episode and explore:

Dennis’ childhood and high school years: being actively involved in the community (2:53)

Studying communication and media at Pace University, NYC (6:13)

Deciding to become a teacher (11:30)

From public relations to teaching: communication skills and outside the box thinking (13:03)

Students Disrupting: the origin story (17:02)

How to start a high school newspaper: from idea to the first issue (20:46)

The skills students are developing (24:42)

Integrating the newspaper into the English class curriculum (29:01)

Why Dennis’ students care more for their work than their grades (31:27)

Expanding the student newspapers initiative to other schools in NYC (34:02)

The resistance behind having a student-run newspaper (40:28)

How Students Disrupting guides and support schools to start their own newspaper (43:12)

What surprised Dennis the most on his journey so far (48:28)

How we can support Students Disrupting (55:37)

The impact Dennis wants to have during his lifetime (57:49)