2022: The year in Chalkbeat photos

Our reporters and contributing photographers told the story of education in America amid a pandemic, increased legislation on curriculum, and emotional trauma from gun violence.

This year was supposed to be a triumphant return to normalcy for an education system rocked by two years of a global pandemic. Then reality set in: Educators, parents, and students are still dealing with COVID trauma and uncertainty. Teachers are adapting to students of all ages who are falling behind academically and, in some places, dealing with the added pressures of the politicization of their classrooms.

Chalkbeat reporters and contributing photographers have told these stories in school communities across the country. We’ve documented the effects of culture wars on students, the daily journey a family undertook to get to school from temporary housing, and gun violence’s devastating toll.

But we were also there to show the strength and resilience of our schools. We met seniors who navigated the challenges of the pandemic to graduate, activists who brought fresh food to their communities, and even a science teacher who rewrote history by climbing Mount Everest.

Here is a collection of photographs that help tell the vivid story of life in our school communities in 2022.

Through the stories of seniors Keshawn Arnold (pictured) and Gerlia Baker, we learned about a challenging return to school for Richards Career Academy in Chicago. We also were there for their triumphant graduations. (Youngrae Kim for Chalkbeat)
Aletha Darby and the students in her Great Start Readiness Program class motion to truck drivers to get a honk during a neighborhood walk near Growing Minds Learning Center in Detroit. GSRP is a state-funded preschool program for 4-year-olds from low income families. Darby is a teacher and the center’s founder. When the weather is good, she takes her class on a walk to connect with the community. (Erin Kirkland for Chalkbeat)
(From left) Starr Whiteside, Danisha Willaimson, and Tah’gee Van Dunk stand outside of The HUBB in Newark, New Jersey. Organizations like The HUBB are working to address gun violence in communities nationwide. (Gabriela Bhaskar for Chalkbeat)
Brittany Brunson stands outside of South Philadelphia High School with a cutout of her son, 16-year-old Kahlief Myric, who was killed on February 18, 2021. By telling Kahlief’s story, Chalkbeat examined the rippling effects that the trauma of losing a child to gun violence in a city where it’s the leading cause of death for people over the age of 15. (Kriston Jae Bethel)
Guests gather in the History Colorado Center for the opening of the Sand Creek Massacre exhibit, which brings awareness to the tragedy and spotlights the culture of the Cheyenne and Arapaho people. Colorado is developing curriculum to better teach the history of the Sand Creek Massacre in its schools. (Carl Glenn Payne II for Chalkbeat)
The Philadelphia School Board is updating the district’s African American history course curriculum, which is mandatory for graduation and taught by teachers like Northeast High School’s Stacy Hill (left) and Keziah Ridgeway. (Alexandre da Veiga for Chalkbeat)
For many teens in the LGBTQ+ community, discussing gender and sexuality can be difficult, and they often don’t see themselves represented in book and other media. Chalkbeat readers recommended a list of LGBTQ+ books to bring amplify stories from that community. (Dan Lyon / Chalkbeat)
We brought readers into the rural Fowler High School, where the school has fostered a culture that promotes college, bucking Colorado’s trend of lower college attendance rates for rural students. (Mark Reis for Chalkbeat)
We met Centaurus High School science teacher Eddie Taylor (center) of Colorado as he prepared to climb Mount Everest with Full Circle Everest. Later in the year, the team became the first all-Black climbing team to summit what is considered the ultimate goal for competitive climbers. (Carl Glenn Payne II for Chalkbeat)
Ahjhané Blackwell, who studied welding at Randolph Skills Center, is one of 11 graduating seniors from Philadelphia district schools hired straight out of high school for their skills through the Talent Pipeline Projects partnership. (Hannah Beier for Chalkbeat)
Our readers took a field trip with East High School Sustainability Club for a Tree-Plenish event in Denver, part of the student-led push to make the district more environmentally conscious. (Eli Imadali for Chalkbeat)
We went on a journey to Fishkill, New York, with students from Leaders High School. The trip upstate was part of the school’s annual camping trip — their first in two years — that aimed to build teamwork and address the trauma of COVID-19. (Gabby Jones for Chalkbeat)
Chalkbeat learned about Indiana’s Workforce Ready Grant through River Forest Schools parent liaison Noemi Lozano, who was a recipient of the program. (Christian K. Lee for Chalkbeat)
Crystal Shephard hugs her daughter Taliyah, 5, before the first day of kindergarten at Mark Twain School for Scholars in Detroit. There was optimism in the district as it reopened with plans to overcome the hardships of the last two pandemic school years. (Nic Antaya for Chalkbeat)
In a partnership with Bridge Michigan, we looked at tutoring programs in Michigan districts like Ecorse Public Schools as they worked to curb learning loss in their classrooms. (Sylvia Jarrus for Chalkbeat)
Chalkbeat traveled to a refuge for Black queer teens in Selma, Alabama, a state where legislation is targeting gender-affirming care and the way LGBTQ+ history is taught. (Andi Rice for Chalkbeat)
Community activists Power Malu and Lila Mejia work to combat food insecurity by placing refrigerators full of healthy, plant-based food in school communities across New York City. (José A. Alvarado Jr. for Chalkbeat)
We embarked on a journey across New York City with a mother and her two daughters as she took them to school. Their story illustrated how hard it can be for the nearly 30,000 public school students living in temporary housing to get to class each day. (Hilary Swift for Chalkbeat)
For principals like Glenmount Elementary/Middle School’s Benjamin Mosley in Colorado, federal dollars have been instrumental in addressing staffing issues and adding programming. What will happen to schools across the country when pandemic aid runs dry? (Shuran Huang for Chalkbeat)
Black girls like Crosstown High senior Winter Shields graduated from high school at a higher rate than their Memphis-Shelby County Schools peers. (Ariel Cobbert for Chalkbeat)
(Danny Wilcox Frazier / VII for Chalkbeat)
In Iowa, we saw the effects of CRT legislation on students like (clockwise from top left) Mariah Martinez, Volta Adovor, and Orlando Fuentes, who were supposed to speak at an education equity conference that was postponed indefinitely. (Danny Wilcox Frazier / VII for Chalkbeat)
We were at New York City’s P.S. 503 in Brooklyn for the first day of the 2022-23 school year, as the largest public school district in the United States welcomed back their students in full for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020. (Gabby Jones for Chalkbeat)
From students like Brooklyn Tech’s Kekeli Amekudzi, we learned about the future plans from a senior class that navigated two uncertain years of pandemic learning. (Thalia Juárez for Chalkbeat)