Welcome aboard

Stacy-Marie Ishmael joins Chalkbeat’s Board of Directors

Chalkbeat is thrilled to announce the expansion of its Board of Directors with the appointment of Stacy-Marie Ishmael, a leader in digital media and the future of journalism. The addition strengthens a growing organization that is now reporting on education in five local communities, bolstering Chalkbeat’s ability to meet expanding need for local news about education.

Ishmael, a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University, joined the Chalkbeat board in September 2016.

“Our mission is to arm American communities with the information they need to build more equitable schools. We couldn’t have found a better leader to help us achieve our mission than Stacy-Marie,” said Chalkbeat board president and cofounder Sue Lehmann. “Her expertise in digital media, product, and news strategy will help Chalkbeat connect our award-winning, high-impact stories to broader audiences.”

Chalkbeat currently serves communities in four locations — New York, Colorado, Tennessee, and Indiana — and will launch in Detroit in January 2017. Chalkbeat’s reporting has spurred changes in education funding, legislation, policy, and practice and is regularly cited or republished in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Vox, the Commercial-Appeal, The Denver Post, The Detroit Free-Press, The Indianapolis Star, and more.

Ishmael joins a board that also includes Lehmann, cofounder and chief facilitator of the Student Success Network; Gideon Stein, the founder and CEO of LightSail Education; Jill Barkin, a vice president of board governance at Teach For America, and Kang-Xing Jin, a vice president of engineering at Facebook. Chalkbeat is led by cofounder, CEO, and editor-in-chief Elizabeth Green.

Ishmael, most recently managing editor for mobile at BuzzFeed News, is now researching mobile infrastructure for newsrooms at Stanford University as part of her JSK fellowship. At BuzzFeed News, Ishmael led the launch of and the editorial team for the BuzzFeed News apps on iOS and Android. She was also responsible for developing best practices for news on mobile across platforms.

Prior to BuzzFeed News, Ishmael worked at The Financial Times in various roles, including the first vice president for communities, where she created and led strategies to deepen meaningful relationships with global audiences.

Ishmael earned her undergraduate degree in international relations at the London School of Economics.

“At this pivotal moment in US history, strong schools and strong local journalism are more important than ever,” Ishmael said. “I’m proud to be able to join the board of an organization that is singularly focussed about a topic I care deeply about, and to help them build a sustainable path for journalism.”

“At Chalkbeat, we are determined to build a sustainable local news organization that can help steer the country toward stronger schools. We can’t do that without the strongest possible leaders,” said Elizabeth Green, Chalkbeat cofounder, CEO, and editor-in-chief. “Stacy-Marie brings us the vision and leadership we need to succeed.”

A previous addition to Chalkbeat’s board of directors was announced in December 2015.

About Chalkbeat:

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization committed to covering one of America’s most important stories: the effort to improve schools for all children, especially those who have historically lacked access to a quality education. Founded in 2013, Chalkbeat has bureaus in New York, Colorado, Tennessee, Indiana, and Detroit, with plans to expand to a number of new markets in the next five years. We believe that every child deserves an excellent education, and that a strong press is vital to making that happen. Our mission is to provide deep, unbiased, local coverage of education policy and practice to inform the decisions and actions that lead to better outcomes for children and families. Chalkbeat’s work has been written about by The Nieman Lab, USA Today, and The Columbia Journalism Review.

Story booth

A Detroit student speaks: ‘DPS has expanded my horizon for me to see a whole new world.’

KrisTia Maxwell is a student at Detroit's Marcus Garvey Academy

When KrisTia Maxwell started in the Detroit Public Schools as a 5-year-old kindergartener, she was nervous and shy and “didn’t know what was going to happen to me.”

Now, eight years later, she’s in middle school at Detroit’s Marcus Garvey Academy and says Detroit public schools (now called the Detroit Public Schools Community District) have helped make her the active, successful student she’s become.

“DPS has expanded my horizon for me to see a whole new world,” she said.

Her years at Marcus Garvey have included involvement in the National Junior Honor Society, the Girl Scouts, and the cheer team and basketball teams, among other activities.

The school “has improved me in all sorts of subjects and … given me opportunities to express myself and be who I am,” she said.

KrisTia told her Detroit schools story in a story booth outside the School Days storytelling event that was hosted in March by Chalkbeat and the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers at the Charles H. Wright Museum.

The event brought educators, parents and students together to tell their stories on stage at the Wright but it also invited other Detroiters to share their stories in a booth set up by Chalkbeat and the Skillman Foundation. (Skillman also supports Chalkbeat. Learn more about our funding here.)

In her story, KrisTia said her school “is half of me. It’s an important part and I’m going to attempt to do whatever I can to accomplish getting my 4.0 GPA and just doing great and … making my mom proud.”

If you have a story to tell — or know someone who does — please let us know.

Watch KrisTia’s full story below:

KrisTia Maxwell from Chalkbeat on Vimeo.

Story booth

A Detroit teacher speaks: The tragic reason why her students don’t always do their homework or come to class on time

Detroit teacher Janine Scott explains what people' don't understand about her students.

When Janine Scott tells people that she teaches in Detroit, she often gets looks of pity.

“You poor thing!” she said people tell her as they make negative comments about the children she works with.

But those people don’t understand her students, she said.

“I ask [my students] things like why are you late, or why didn’t you do your homework or what happened or why didn’t you even come to school?” Scott said.

“And then I’ll get something like well, Miss Scott, I had to get my little brothers and sisters up, and had to feed them and and comb their hair and get them ready for school, had to wait on their bus with them. And my kids will come in third hour. Or they’ll tell me about the drama that happened last night or they’ll tell me about their friend that died in their arms the night before.”

Scott told her story of teaching in the Detroit schools in a story booth outside the School Days storytelling event.

The event, cosponsored by Chalkbeat and the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers, was held at the Charles H. Wright Museum last month and featured Detroit parents, educators, and a student telling stories on stage about schools in Detroit.

But the stories on stage were just a start. Chalkbeat is looking to tell many more stories about Detroit parents, students and teachers. The story booth set up by Chalkbeat and the Skillman Foundation in the lobby of the Wright Museum ahead of our event was one way to do this. (Skillman also supports Chalkbeat. Learn more about our funding here.)

When Scott came into the booth, she talked about things her students must endure to get to school at all.  

“All of a sudden that little mediocre C that they get in my class becomes a great grade because in order for them to even navigate through that environment and get to school and learn something, that’s an amazing thing,” Scott said. “See a lot of people don’t even make it that far but my kids do.”

Watch Scott’s story below and if you have a story to tell about Detroit schools — or know someone who does — please let us know.