‘Glen’s Village’ wins EWA award

At national gathering of education writers, the U.S. secretary of education said he was moved by the series.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Glen’s Village, a series and documentary illustrating the struggles and success of Philadelphia student Glen Casey in coping with childhood trauma to succeed in school and college, won first prize in its category in the Education Writers Association annual awards contest.

The judges cited the work, written by Paul Jablow and directed by Dorian Geiger, as "a compelling view of the effect of adverse experiences and stress on a young person and a close look at the interventions and supports in place that allowed him to start turning around his life." Another judge called it a "powerful series [that] benefits from wonderful storytelling and the insightful Glen’s compelling personal journey."

The work won in the category of single-topic story or series for a small general news outlet – with a newsroom of 25 people or less. The two other finalists in the category were from the Hechinger Institute, an education journalism nonprofit based in New York, and The Marshall Project, a national organization that reports on the criminal justice system.

The award was announced during a banquet at EWA’s annual conference, held this year in Boston with the theme of "The Quest for Quality and Equity." It was accepted by former Notebook publisher Paul Socolar.

At a luncheon on Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education John King reiterated the importance of good reporting on education. He cited three works that spoke to him: Failure Factories, by the Tampa Bay Times on the resegregation and neglect of high-poverty, mostly Black schools in Pinellas County, Florida, that also won a Pulitzer Prize this year; The Problem We All Live With, Nicole Hannah-Jones’ radio piece about the inadvertent desegregation experiment involving the school district attended by Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; and Glen’s Village.

As a Black male who grew up in difficult family circumstances and relied on mentors and teachers to succeed, King said he related to Glen Casey. King specifically pointed out how the series demonstrated the importance of adequate funding for all schools. He noted that Glen relied heavily on the presence of counselors and others in his school for support.

Socolar, who was the Notebook‘s editor and publisher when the series was conceived and executed, said that Glen’s Village "was one of the most important stories we put together in my 16 years as editor. Understanding the impact of trauma on students and changing the culture of schools to be trauma-sensitive are big shifts, but Glen’s story really illustrates that the stakes and the potential benefits are huge."

Maria Archangelo, the Notebook‘s new publisher, called the award "recognition that the Notebook is doing important work that is being recognized on a national level."

The documentary has won several awards at regional film festivals.

Glen Casey is now a junior at the University of Pennsylvania.

Read and watch the three-part series and documentary:

Part 1: From a trauma-filled childhood to the Ivy League

Part 2: A mother reached out, and a son got needed services

Part 3: A student’s turnaround gets him to Penn, despite painful new challenges