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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StateImpact Florida
8:17 am
Thu October 10, 2013

Map: How Full-Time Support Staff Jobs Have Changed In Your County Schools

There are fewer custodians and support staff in Florida public schools than there were in 2007.
Credit Kitsu / Flickr.com

A StateImpact Florida analysis of jobs in Florida public schools shows that while full-time staffing is almost back to pre-recession levels, one group of employees hasn’t come back: the support staff.

Since the recession began, Florida’s public school budgets have been hit with more than $2 billion dollars in cuts from state and federal funding, decreased property tax revenue and sequestration.

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MacArthur Fellows
10:16 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Miami 'Genius' Draws Connections Between Shakespeare, Liberty City

Tarell Alvin McCraney is one of this year's MacArthur Fellows.
facebook.com/pages/Tarell-Alvin-McCraney/347920782621

Miami-raised playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney is one of this year’s MacArthur Fellows.

The fellowship, announced Wednesday, is better known as the “genius grant” and comes with a $625,000 prize. Past winners with Miami ties include writer Edwidge Danticat and poet Campbell McGrath.

McCraney’s award-winning plays draw on his experiences growing up in Liberty City. He’s an alumnus of the New World School of the Arts.

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Health Care
12:42 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Sebelius Visits Miami-Dade To Spread The Word On Health Care Reform

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visited Miami on Tuesday for a panel discussion on healthcare changes.
Credit C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff

Starting October first, Floridians will be able to buy health insurance through a government-run website—or “health insurance exchange”—where consumers can compare plans and prices.

Under the Affordable Care Act, most uninsured adults who don’t purchase insurance or aren’t covered by employers will have to pay a fine come tax time.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held a panel on the Affordable Care Act at Miami-Dade College on Tuesday but getting the word out hasn’t been easy in Florida.

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School Health
8:22 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Miami School Health Clinics Are Re-Imagining The Role Of The School Nurse

The school-based health clinic at North Miami Beach Senior High School is a full-service clinic.
Credit Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida

It’s a Wednesday morning and the waiting room is already starting to fill up at the North Miami Beach Senior High School clinic.

“Go ahead and have a seat.”

A 16-year-old girl with an enormous red bow pinned above her ear approaches the appointment window. A beveled glass pane slides open. The woman behind the desk doesn’t ask for insurance information; she asks to see a hall pass.

The teenager with the red bow takes her place in a waiting room chair next to classmates who, between hushed exchanges of gossip, occasionally erupt in giggles.

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Invasive Species
2:43 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Got Giant African Land Snails? Release The Hounds!

Will sniff snails for treats: Bear, a three-year-old black lab, is being trained to follow the scent of giant African land snails.
Credit Sammy Mack / WLRN

In the ongoing assault on invasive giant African land snails, Florida is ready to release the hounds.

Literally.

The state will be adding snail-sniffing dogs to its team of 50 full-time snail hunters.

RELATED: Dogs Prove To Be Key In Battle Against Giant African Snails

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Bus Stop Interviews
8:00 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Back-To-School Scenes From Across Florida

Keri Grigas started her junior year on Monday.
Credit Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida

After a long, humid summer, kids across the state are waking up and getting ready to go back to school this week.

One of those students, 16-year-old Keri Grigas, started her junior year at South Broward High School this morning. Listen to her bus-stop interview with us from Monday morning:

Keri later met up with us at the bus stop after school to tell us how the day went:

For your reading pleasure, we’ve also rounded up a few more of our favorite small moments from the big day back. Feel free to share your own in the comments.

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StateImpact Florida
10:46 am
Thu August 15, 2013

What A School Grade Means To Parents

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 11:45 am

Florida’s system of giving schools grades from A-to-F has been in the spotlight this summer.

First, state officials made last-minute changes to the A-to-F formula, preventing more than 150 schools from dropping to F grades.

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Politics
12:32 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett Resigns

Tony Bennett

Update 2:24 p.m.: Florida is looking for a new education commissioner. Tony Bennett resigned today – effective immediately – after just six months on the job.

Allegations surfaced this week that Bennett changed the school grading system in Indiana to benefit a campaign contributor while he served as that state's elected superintendent.

Bennett said the allegations were unfounded, but he decided to step down because they had become a distraction.

Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg says Bennett did the right thing.

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Aerospace
12:02 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

What Happens When Science Teachers Go To A Rocket Launch

Lockheed Martin-NSTA Teacher Fellows Mary Maddox and Steve Kirsche watch the MUOS-2 satellite launch.
Courtesy Lockheed Martin

Lauren Case already knows what she’s going to say on the first day of school when her students ask what she did over summer break:

“I saw a rocket launch; it was awesome. You want to go too? Maybe you should become an engineer,” says Case, a 10th grade science teacher at South Fork High School in Stuart, Fla.

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Education
6:30 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Not Your Typical Summer School: A Summer Camp Fights Learning Loss Using The Common Core

Campers at Sallye B. Mathis Elementary School will learn Common Core lessons this summer.
Credit Karelia Arauz

It’s summertime and Angela Maxey, principal of Sallye B. Mathis Elementary School, is observing a classroom of 9- and 10-year-olds draw and identify different kinds of triangles.

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Schools
12:17 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti On His First Year in Jacksonville, Race, And The Challenges To Florida

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 11:00 am

Nikolai Vitti knows how dissimilar Florida’s school districts can be — but as the new Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, he also recognizes common challenges.

Vitti arrived in North Florida last November, leaving behind a job as chief academic officer for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

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Digital Classrooms
7:00 am
Mon June 17, 2013

What We Mean When We Talk About The Digital Divide In Florida

Students at Park Vista Community High School refurbish computers for donation.
Credit Sammy Mack / StateImpact Florida

It’s finals week at Park Vista Community High School and a small group of students buzzes over an assembly line of used Dell computers that lie cracked open with all their electronic guts exposed.

Many of the donated computers that Stabio refurbishes in class will be given to families who don’t have computers at home. It’s part of a Palm Beach County program aimed at closing the digital divide.

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Sunrise In Party City
8:30 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Audio Postcard: Magic Hour On South Beach

Malika Everette, visiting from Atlanta, posted photos of sunrise on Miami Beach to Instagram.
Sammy Mack

Sunrise is a special time on South Beach, but on holiday weekends, it's a magic hour.

Right around dawn, there's a brief overlap as the night owls wind down and the early birds gear up for a new day.

"It's peaceful, it's quiet. All of the chaos kind of dies down," observed Malika Everette, who woke up early on Memorial Day to take photos of the sunrise over South Beach. Everette planned to post the landscapes to Instagram before heading back home to Atlanta.

The dawn hours are for locals, too.

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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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