Chalkbeat

Coming Monday: A fresh new way to see Chalkbeat stories — in context

Exciting news: Chalkbeat is about to get a new and improved homepage! And since we know many of you don’t feel your day has really begun until you visit Chalkbeat, we want to give you the very first heads up before the changes launch Monday.

A little about what to expect: We’re starting small and plan to roll out more improvements in the months to come. Your local homepage won’t change — you’ll still be able to get all of your Indiana education news right here. But now, for the first time ever, we’ll have a national homepage, too.

That new national page, Chalkbeat.org, is where you’ll be able to find the best stories from all our Chalkbeat locations (now including Detroit!). You can also follow Chalkbeat on Facebook and Twitter to find the most interesting developments in educational equity from across our locations.

The new national homepage is a direct response to requests from readers. Some readers are devoted Indiana community members who want an easier way to learn from other locations where Chalkbeat exists. Others live in places where Chalkbeat doesn’t exist (not yet at least!), but still want to follow our coverage from Colorado, Indiana, New York, Tennessee, and now Detroit. We hope we’re serving these needs better starting today.

Another change: You’ll be able to see — and search — Chalkbeat by topic more easily, to find the latest updates on, say, state testing, all across the country. You’ll also have more opportunities to connect local stories to the big national picture, thanks to better options we’re offering about which stories to read next.

We’re not stopping here. The new homepage is just one step in our ongoing evolution to better serve our readers and the story we cover. To do that we’ll need to continue learning from you. Please take this survey to let us know what you’d like to see us do next — and please come back on Monday to see our new homepage in action.

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nota bene

Meet Bene Cipolla, who’s inaugurating a new Chalkbeat chapter as our first-ever executive editor

Bene Cipolla joined Chalkbeat today as our new executive editor. Photo by Yan Ruan.

Today the Chalkbeat team expanded one more time: We welcomed our first-ever executive editor, Bene Cipolla.

Executive editor is a position we were once too small to need, but now find ourselves too big to live without. And we’ve found the perfect person for the role in Bene, an experienced reporter, editor, team builder, and digital leader who cares as much about education and great journalism as we do.

Bene will lead our amazing team of editors and reporters, now in five locations, not to mention our new national team.

Her charge is to make sure Chalkbeat remains sharp, smart, and connected to the realities in schools. We are also asking Bene to help us get better. We want to cover a wider territory, take on more ambitious projects, and share more stories that haven’t yet been told. 

With experience editing at major magazines, writing and reporting for the world’s best newspapers, and leading editorial teams at fast-growing digital startups, Bene is the perfect person to push Chalkbeat forward.

Mandatory moment of nostalgia: We started this Chalkbeat adventure in 2008 with a few dozen readers sprinkled between two cities. Today we are one of the country’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit news operations, providing public-interest coverage in local communities where the news outlets that used to do that job have been gutted.

We take our responsibility seriously, and we know we have much more to do to keep this kind of journalism strong. We also know we can only succeed if we have the best possible team — of readers, of supporters, and of staff.

Bene is just the newest member of an amazing community that leaves us in awe every day.

Get to know her through this recent piece in the New York Times, which is personal and fascinating; this authoritative curtain-raiser on the 2008 U.S. papal visit (she covered religion for many years); and this magazine piece on Iraq war veterans. Or just send her an email to welcome her to the Chalkbeat community. Her brand-new-today email address is [email protected].

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.