Colombo, Cavazos to join Chalkbeat

Chalkbeat is pleased to announce two new staff members who will be joining the Indiana bureau.

Hayleigh Colombo comes to Chalkbeat from the Lafayette Journal & Courier. As higher education reporter there, she covered former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ tumultuous foray into higher education as president of Purdue University.

Hayleigh Colombo
PHOTO: via Yes Prep
Hayleigh Colombo

Colombo’s stories about Daniels’ political activity as Purdue’s president prompted an apology from the former governor. She’s also covered business for the Journal & Courier.

She graduated cum laude with high honors in journalism from the Eugene S. Pulliam School of Journalism at Butler University in Indianapolis, where she double majored in political science. Colombo’s experience includes internships at The Hill in Washington, D.C., the Wisconsin State Journal, Indianapolis Business Journal and Indianapolis Monthly.

For Chalkbeat she will cover Indianapolis Public Schools and issues of educational change in Marion County and across the state. Her first day is Tuesday. Follow her on Twitter @hayleighcolombo. Her email address is [email protected]

In July, Shaina Cavazos will join Chalkbeat Indiana as a reporting intern.

Cavazos has just completed a master’s degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. She has worked as a K-12 education reporter for the Columbia Missourian and a business reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. At the Missourian, she wrote about Common Core and literacy, among other education topics.

Shaina Cavazos
Shaina Cavazos

Cavazos grew up in Schaumburg, Ill., a northwest suburb of Chicago. She graduated magna cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in economics and journalism from the University of Missouri. For Chalkbeat she will cover state standards and state and local issues. Follow her on Twitter @ShainaRC. Her email address is [email protected]

Chalkbeat Indiana launched in October as part of a national network of education sites offering daily, unbiased coverage of public education, focusing on K-12 schools and especially low-income communities. The network began with sites in New York and Colorado before expanding last year to Indiana and Tennessee.

Chalkbeat came to Indiana because of the state’s central role in several national efforts to make educational change.

As an organization, Chalkbeat believed that a strong, independent press is vital to helping schools improve. You can read more about our model and how it fits into the bigger picture of new journalism projects in this story by USA Today.

Chalkbeat Indiana’s founding bureau chief is Scott Elliott, the former education reform reporter at the Indianapolis Star and the current president of the national Education Writers Association.

For more information about Chalkbeat, its mission and its leadership, please visit our About Us page.

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.