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
7:28 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Broward Schools Recognized For LGBT Anti-Bullying Policies

Broward County Public Schools are being honored for their anti-bullying policies.
Credit ANANKKML / FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET

The Broward County Public School district has been honored for its anti-bullying policies.

Equality Florida recognized the school district at its annual gala this weekend. Broward was specifically recognized for its policies protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

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Elevation Zero
7:01 am
Wed November 13, 2013

How South Florida Kids Learn About Sea-Level Rise

Students with MAST at FIU collect mangrove propagules for a restoration project.
Credit Sammy Mack / WLRN

Standing at the water’s edge on Florida International University's Biscayne Bay campus, Nicholas Ogle shows a crowd of teenagers what looks like a giant, rotten green bean.

“We don’t want any mushiness anywhere, especially at the top,” he says, then chucks the specimen to the side.

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StateImpact Florida
7:33 am
Tue November 12, 2013

What Florida’s Graduation Rates Say About Opportunity In Our State

National trends: The Opportunity Index measures factors that contribute to quality of life, like graduation rates and access to early learning.
Credit Opportunity Nation / OpportunityNation.org

Florida doesn’t offer as much opportunity to its young people as other states do, according to new research from Opportunity Nation.

The bipartisan organization compiles an index of community characteristics to measure how people’s zip codes affect their quality of life.

The index includes measure such as access to early learning, violent crime rates and graduation rates.

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StateImpact Florida
6:45 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Speakers Defend Jacksonville School Named For KKK’s First Grand Wizard

Nathan Bedford Forrest was the Confederate general who oversaw the Fort Pillow Massacre.
Credit New York Public Library

A petition to change the name of Jacksonville’s Nathan B. Forrest High School—whose namesake was the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan—has reached more than 160,000 names.

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StateImpact Florida
2:49 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

What’s In A Name? Florida Board Of Education Wrestles With What To Call “Common Core”

The Florida State Board of Education meeting took a turn for the theatrical on Tuesday.
Credit stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net

 In all the attention surrounding the Common Core hearings Florida is holding this week, it would have been easy to miss a curious exchange at Tuesday’s State Board of Education meeting.

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StateImpact Florida
2:44 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

To Thwack Or Not To Thwack; Corporal Punishment Is Not Just Florida’s Dilemma

Corporal punishment, like paddling, is allowed in schools in 19 states.
Credit Hin255 / freedigitalphotos.net

Florida is on a shrinking list of states that still allow corporal punishment in schools.

Education Week’s Alyssa Morones looked at how states are grappling with corporal punishment:

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StateImpact Florida
12:12 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Join Us Tonight For A Conversation About Common Core

Join the conversation tonight.
Credit Renjith Krishnan / freedigitalphotos.net

Tonight marks the second of three Common Core hearings Florida is holding in an effort to get feedback from parents and communities about the state’s new education standards.

Whether or not you can make it to Davie tonight, we want you to be part of the conversation.

StateImpact Florida is teaming up with our partners at WLRN-Miami Herald News and Florida International University’s journalism program to cover the event.

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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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