The Midwest Media Educators Association (MMEA), formerly known as the Chicagoland Television Educators Council (CTEC), and the Chicagoland Media Educators Network (CMENT), grew out of a need for teachers of media at the high school level to network by sharing ideas, techniques, information and technical knowledge about television curricula and activities.
The organization was formed from some initial Illinois Vocational Television Program meetings held at two local high schools. In the early 1990’s, Lucas Palermo, representing the Columbia College Television Department, and some of the high school faculty who had attended the Vocational Programs, began meeting to form a new network of teachers of media who up to this point felt isolated in their schools or districts. Using Columbia College as an information station, getting together and sharing curricular ideas, textbooks, vendor recommendations, hosting repair workshops and providing insight into the teaching of television, became the cornerstones of the processes that were to follow. As teachers met more formally the organization adopted a set of by-laws, joined a national organization (The Illinois Association for Education Communication and Technology) and elected officials. Dr. Linda Profetto of Bremen High School was elected President with Vice-President Gary Prokes of Riverside-Brookfield High School and Treasurer Charlotte Titcomb from Deerfield High School.
After one year of growth the fledgling organization proposed a video festival for student work, designed to accommodate all television genres, all levels of student work, and all types of high school facilities throughout the Chicagoland area. The First Annual Chicagoland High School Video Festival was held on May 5, 1994.The first event drew 150 entries in seven categories. Attendance at the festival was over 200 students representing twenty-four Chicago area high schools and was held at Columbia College, with the Awards Ceremony held at the Harold Washington Library. Festival activities included the screening of all 150 entries in seven rooms simultaneously, lunch and the Awards Ceremony. In April of 2015, the 22nd Annual High School Video Festival was held, boasting 565 entries in 16 categories, representing nearly 40 schools, with attendance that day peeking at just over 800 students and faculty.
Today’s festival must be held at a venue large enough to provide screening space for all entries in separate rooms. Currently the festival is held at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, IL. Judging is coordinated by Jason Santo from Geneva High School. Judges consist of faculty from Columbia College, DePaul University, Harold Washington College, College of DuPage, and Southsuburban College, along with working professionals in the Chicago, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, and Portland Television Markets, and the NATAS organization. In 2015 over 70 judges viewed over 1800 minutes of programming.
In addition to the High School Video Festival, the Midwest Media Educators Association sponsors networking opportunities via two meetings each school year, held at various member schools, to meet, support and learn. MMEA offers scholarships in the name of one of the founding members, Mr. Luke Palermo. This year two scholarships will be offered to 2 senior students in the amount of $1000 each.
The organization is testimony to the fact that hard work, creative ideas, valuable partnerships and old-fashioned networking can lead to a very visible icon of success.