Sammy Mack

Reporter

Public radio. Public health. Public policy.

Most days, Mack covers health care policy for WLRN – Miami Herald News. Her health care journalism is supported by a fellowship with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Like most folks who've worked at a member station, she's worn a lot of hats: interim digital editor during the re-launch of WLRN.org, assistant producer for The Florida Roundup, morning news producer, intern coordinator, party planner. She was one half of the StateImpact Florida education reporting team. 

Her stories have appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, Health News Florida, 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 A Green Eyeshade Award for Investigative Journalism, and Florida AP Broadcaster and SPJ Sunshine State awards. She’s collaborated on projects that have won a Third Coast International Audio Festival bronze award, 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.

Ways to Connect

Chase Jarvis / Grove Atlantic

When Sherman Alexie comes to Miami Book Fair International, he enjoys the visuals.

“It’s like putting a bunch of geeky English professors in Bermuda shorts,” Alexie says. “I like the notion of all that energy surrounding books.”

Alexie is the author of award-winning novels, poetry and short-story collections about Indian characters living on and off modern-day reservations. His protagonists frequently share a deep, obsessive love of books and basketball.

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.

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.

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.

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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 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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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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