Sammy Mack

Sammy Mack loves public radio and public policy.

Mack is the Miami-based education reporter for StateImpact Florida. She is a St. Petersburg native and a product of Florida public schools. She even took the first FCAT.

Mack previously was a digital editor and health care policy reporter for WLRN - Miami Herald News, where she covered the public health and health policy beat. For two years, her health reporting with WLRN was supported by the grant-funded HealthyState.org project. She was selected as a 2012 fellow with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Her stories have also appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, HealthNewsFlorida.org, Gambit Weekly, MAP Magazine, Gulfshore Life, Philadelphia Weekly, the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and other outlets.

Mack’s work has been honored with Florida AP Broadcaster and SPJ Sunshine State awards. She’s collaborated on projects that have won an Emmy, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, a Wilbur Award and a Dart Award. Mack was a writing fellow during the 2008 Poynter Summer Fellowship for Young Journalists.

She was recognized by her colleagues as the 2011 Herald Top Chef. She’s happy to share her recipe for garam masala macarons with lemongrass filling.

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StateImpact Florida
12:41 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Children's Authors On Education Policy: Sheila Keenan Talks Common Core And Graphic Novels

Sheila Keenan is author of the new graphic novel, Dogs of War.
Credit Scholastic.com

Sheila Keenan, author of a new graphic novel for kids, called Dogs of War, says she tries not to think too much about classroom policies when she writes.

Her latest work is about the relationships between soldiers and dogs during World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. It’s fiction, but she did a lot of research to make sure it was historically accurate.“Good storytelling is good storytelling,” says Keenan.

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DARPA
3:43 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Simple Tasks, Heavy Burdens: Robot Engineers Compete To 'Save Humanity'

THOR OP competes in the terrain task.
Credit Maria Murriel / WLRN

The Pentagon hosted a robotics competition at the Homestead Miami Speedway over the weekend. It’s being called the "Robot Olympics."

Teams from all over the world came to prove their robots’ agility at the Robotics Challenge trials. The teams whose robots earn the top scores would get a shot at winning $2 million in the finals next year.

But the games are about much more than the cash:

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Science
2:11 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Robots Are Invading Homestead

Yong Lin works on RoboSimian, the entry of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs, before the Robotics Challenge Trials begin at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Credit CAMMY CLARK / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

The qualifying trials for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Robotics Challenge start Friday. The robot races are sponsored by the Pentagon’s research unit.

Teams of engineers from all over the world are vying for a chance to compete for a $2 million prize. But sponsors hope much more will come of the event.

Here’s the challenge: Create a robot that can walk on rocky terrain, open doors, remove debris, close a valve. Basically, do all the things a first responder would do.

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StateImpact Florida
8:15 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Jacksonville School Board Rejects KKK-Affiliated School Name

Credit Wikimedia Commons and Sammy Mack

 

    

In 1959, Forrest High was named for Nathan Bedford Forrest — the Civil War general and early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

After more than a half century of controversy, Nathan B. Forrest High School in Jacksonville is looking for a new name.

But Monday night, on the recommendation of Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, the Duval County School Board voted unanimously to rename the high school.

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StateImpact Florida
9:54 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

After The KKK: The Future -- And History -- Of Jacksonville's Forrest High

Brothers Rodney Jones and Tremain McCreary attend the school that will no longer be named Nathan B. Forrest High School
Credit Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida

When Rodney Jones and Tremain McCreary walked to school on Tuesday morning, the brothers were headed to the same classrooms, to sit next to the same students, in a building with the same façade it had on Monday.

But it was not the same school they had gone to the day before.

“It’s a relief to me to know the school name had changed. I was thinking about it: How do we have a KKK leader’s name for our school?” Jones says.

“Things are changing around this school,” says McCreary.

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StateImpact Florida
10:26 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Studying Fine Arts Benefits Students, But Educators Want To Know Which Ones

Allison Rojas is a senior at Design and Architecture Senior High in Miami
Credit Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida

When Allison Rojas looks at a painting by Alice Neel, the high-school junior sees more than a seated woman in a purple sari.

“She uses very bold lines as you can see,” says Rojas. “Very fleshy paintings.”

Rojas has an eye that’s been trained in fine-arts classes at Miami’s Design and Architecture Senior High. DASH is an arts magnet — consistently ranked among the country’s top public schools — and every year, Rojas and her classmates take a field trip with the school to Art Basel, where she gets to see works like Neel’s "Woman."

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StateImpact Florida
11:19 pm
Sun December 1, 2013

In Immokalee, Parents Promise To Speak Spanish With Their Children

Immokalee Community School offers classes to help parents encourage bilingual children.
Credit Wilson Sayre / WLRN

To get into Florida colleges and universities you have to have studied — or be able to speak — a second language. But Florida students don’t have to take foreign language classes to graduate from high school.

So in a part of the state where most families already speak a second language, Immokalee Community School is leaning on parents to make sure their children stay bilingual. As a condition of their children attending the school, every parent has signed a contract to speak Spanish with their kids for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.

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Miami Book Fair International
8:12 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Sherman Alexie On Writing A Banned Book: “You’re Offending The Right Monsters”

Sherman Alexie returns to Miami Book Fair International on Tuesday night
Credit Chase Jarvis / Grove Atlantic

When Sherman Alexie comes to Miami Book Fair International, he enjoys the visuals.

“It’s like putting a bunch of geeky English professors in Bermuda shorts,” Alexie says. “I like the notion of all that energy surrounding books.”

Alexie is the author of award-winning novels, poetry and short-story collections about Indian characters living on and off modern-day reservations. His protagonists frequently share a deep, obsessive love of books and basketball.

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StateImpact Florida
7:28 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Broward Schools Recognized For LGBT Anti-Bullying Policies

Broward County Public Schools are being honored for their anti-bullying policies.
Credit ANANKKML / FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET

The Broward County Public School district has been honored for its anti-bullying policies.

Equality Florida recognized the school district at its annual gala this weekend. Broward was specifically recognized for its policies protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

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Elevation Zero
7:01 am
Wed November 13, 2013

How South Florida Kids Learn About Sea-Level Rise

Students with MAST at FIU collect mangrove propagules for a restoration project.
Credit Sammy Mack / WLRN

Standing at the water’s edge on Florida International University's Biscayne Bay campus, Nicholas Ogle shows a crowd of teenagers what looks like a giant, rotten green bean.

“We don’t want any mushiness anywhere, especially at the top,” he says, then chucks the specimen to the side.

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StateImpact Florida
7:33 am
Tue November 12, 2013

What Florida’s Graduation Rates Say About Opportunity In Our State

National trends: The Opportunity Index measures factors that contribute to quality of life, like graduation rates and access to early learning.
Credit Opportunity Nation / OpportunityNation.org

Florida doesn’t offer as much opportunity to its young people as other states do, according to new research from Opportunity Nation.

The bipartisan organization compiles an index of community characteristics to measure how people’s zip codes affect their quality of life.

The index includes measure such as access to early learning, violent crime rates and graduation rates.

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StateImpact Florida
6:45 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Speakers Defend Jacksonville School Named For KKK’s First Grand Wizard

Nathan Bedford Forrest was the Confederate general who oversaw the Fort Pillow Massacre.
Credit New York Public Library

A petition to change the name of Jacksonville’s Nathan B. Forrest High School—whose namesake was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan—has reached more than 160,000 names.

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StateImpact Florida
2:49 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

What’s In A Name? Florida Board Of Education Wrestles With What To Call “Common Core”

The Florida State Board of Education meeting took a turn for the theatrical on Tuesday.
Credit stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net

 In all the attention surrounding the Common Core hearings Florida is holding this week, it would have been easy to miss a curious exchange at Tuesday’s State Board of Education meeting.

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StateImpact Florida
2:44 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

To Thwack Or Not To Thwack; Corporal Punishment Is Not Just Florida’s Dilemma

Corporal punishment, like paddling, is allowed in schools in 19 states.
Credit Hin255 / freedigitalphotos.net

Florida is on a shrinking list of states that still allow corporal punishment in schools.

Education Week’s Alyssa Morones looked at how states are grappling with corporal punishment:

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StateImpact Florida
12:12 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Join Us Tonight For A Conversation About Common Core

Join the conversation tonight.
Credit Renjith Krishnan / freedigitalphotos.net

Tonight marks the second of three Common Core hearings Florida is holding in an effort to get feedback from parents and communities about the state’s new education standards.

Whether or not you can make it to Davie tonight, we want you to be part of the conversation.

StateImpact Florida is teaming up with our partners at WLRN-Miami Herald News and Florida International University’s journalism program to cover the event.

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