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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Digital Classrooms
8:49 am
Mon May 27, 2013

What Florida Schools Can Learn From One Laptop Per Child

First grader Adam Redding and his mother Lyndra Forbes research the parts of a plant on a classroom computer.
Credit Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida

It’s family literacy night at Holmes Elementary School in Liberty City, and first grader Adam Redding is reading a poem about plants while he absentmindedly tips dirt out of a plastic cup and onto a laptop.

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Education Policy
11:18 am
Fri May 24, 2013

What Did You Learn In School This Year? Tell Us Your Story

What did you learn in school this year? Tell us!
Credit photostock / freedigitalphotos.net

It was a big year for education policy in Florida.

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Common Core
4:04 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

The Resignation Letter That Has Common Core Critics Talking

Originally published on Mon April 15, 2013 8:00 am

As the spring semester winds down around the country, one teacher, Gerald Conti, is not going quietly.

Conti is retiring from Westhill High School in Syracuse, NY at the end of this school year and his resignation letter has become a manifesto for critics of the Common Core.

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Under the Sun
2:47 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Don Bailey Strikes Iconic Pose Again

The Don Bailey Carpets sign.
Jen Mertens
  • Donna Bailey tells Sammy Mack about the day she met her husband.

It had been 38 years since Don Bailey posed for his popular carpet ad – a spoof of a famous Burt Reynolds picture. In March 2010, Under the Sun reporter Sammy Mack convinced Bailey to pose again, wearing exactly the same … smile.

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What's The Story?
2:38 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

What's Up With The Naked Carpet Guy?

The Don Bailey Carpets sign.
Jen Mertens

This story is part of WLRN's new investigative blog, What's the Story? It originally ran as part of WLRN's Under the Sun What's Up With South Florida? series, in March of 2010.

Some time ago, journalist Nicholas Spangler wrote in The Miami Herald, “He calls to mind Michelangelo’s David, with a mission from a more swinging time.” He was referring to Don Bailey, the naked carpet guy you’ve noticed on the billboard driving down I-95.

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Venezuela's Future
9:00 am
Wed March 6, 2013

The Morning After Hugo Chavez's Death: What Happens Next For Venezuela And Its Allies?

Venezuelans in Doral celebrate the death of Hugo Chavez.
Credit Andrea Torres / Miami Herald

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is dead. Public reactions from South Florida's sizeable Venezuelan ex-pat community were jubilant on Tuesday night. In Venezuela, less so.

The big question this morning: what happens next for Venezuela and its allies?

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Medicaid Policy
9:00 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Why Florida Lawmakers Are Now Considering Medicaid Expansion

State Sen. René García is less opposed to Medicaid expansion than he used to be.
Credit Sammy Mack / WLRN

When Florida sued to overturn the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers targeted a piece of the law that would have forced Florida to make Medicaid available to more than a million uninsured Floridians.

The U. S. Supreme Court upheld most of the act but it made Medicaid expansion optional.

Now some Florida lawmakers who originally opposed Medicaid expansion are seriously considering that option.

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John Bailly And Richard Blanco
7:00 am
Tue January 22, 2013

SLIDESHOW: Painter John Bailly Makes Images With Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco

Cienfuegos: Bailly was inspired to paint this portrait of Blanco by the line 'There should be nothing here I don't remember'
John Bailly

When Richard Blanco read his inaugural poem, One Today, one of the friends cheering him from afar was South Florida painter John Bailly.

Bailly and Blanco met nearly 20 years ago and bonded over a shared interest in cultural identity. The conversations between friends led to Place of Mind, a collaboration of paintings and poems that has been on display in South Florida and is now on its way to New York.  

Bailly spoke to WLRN about culture, identity and working with Blanco to create the collection of images.

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One Today
1:01 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

AUDIO: Full Text Of Richard Blanco's Poem For The Inauguration

Richard Blanco's poem describes apples, 'arrayed like rainbows begging our praise.'
Credit rc! / Flickr

Richard Blanco's inaugural poem, One Today, may have addressed the whole nation, but the details were full of South Florida. 

A father's hands callused by cutting sugar cane, a mother who taught Blanco to speak Spanish--these are some of the personal details that worked their way into the poem.

Blanco is the son of Cuban exiles. He was born in Spain and came to Miami as a small child. His poetry draws on images of a childhood spent in a tight-knit South Florida Cuban community.

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Richard Blanco
12:34 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

VIDEO: Richard Blanco, Inaugural Poet, Speaks To WLRN

When Richard Blanco takes the stage Monday at President Barack Obama's second inauguration, the poetry community of South Florida will be paying especially close attention.

Blanco was born to Cuban parents in Spain. The family immigrated to the United States and settled in Miami when Blanco was a toddler. He trained to be a civil engineer but a class at Florida International University later launched his poetry career.

Blanco's poetry is full of images from a childhood in South Florida and a Cuban-American household. 

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Key West Literary Seminar
1:00 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Key West Literary Seminar: Real Portraits, Invented Biographies

All this week, we're bringing you stories from the Key West Literary Seminar which runs through this weekend. Shayne Benowitz originally posted this piece on the KWLS blog.

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The Art Of Politics
8:00 am
Wed January 16, 2013

How You Can Write A Poem For A President

This could be a long poem.
alextorrenegra flickr

Here at WLRN, we're big fans of interactive storytelling

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Twitter Story
12:00 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

Tweet Us A Story: You Can Co-Author A Story With Geoff Dyer

Geoff Dyer gave us the first line, now you get to finish it.
Marzena Pogorzaly geoffdyer.com

Welcome to the Key West Literary Seminar edition of Tweet Us A Story

Starting at 5:00, we'll be writing a story with KWLS author Geoff Dyer.

Dyer has graciously given us the first line of a tale. It's up to you to help us finish it.

You can join in on the storytelling in the space below. Check out the rules at the bottom of the page.

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Your Art Basel Art
1:00 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Photo Contest: Show Us The Most Miami Art Basel Scene

Sex Machine: The art frames the audience at Art Basel.
Alicia Zuckerman WLRN

Here at WLRN, we are acknowledging one of the secret, insider joys of Art Basel week: the people-watching.

Yes, the art is the core of Basel and the satellite fairs. But the real showcase happens when you inject a mix of international artists, collectors and dealers with our usual mélange of tourists, club kids and local aesthetes.

Only in Miami. Only this week.

Which is why we are asking you to help us document it. While you’re out looking at the people art, send us your favorite only-in-Miami-during-Basel images:

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Miami Book Fair International
12:00 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

The Story Doesn’t End Here: Remix A Story With Junot Díaz

This story was pregnant with unanswered questions.
Credit duron123 / freedigitalphotos.net

Earlier this week, we asked you to help us tell a story—140 characters at a time—in honor of Miami Book Fair International.

We tweeted out the first line, given to us by Pulitzer-winning author Junot Díaz: “The dogs hadn’t barked all week.”

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