At the first day assembly, the freshman seem confused and nervous while the seniors are boisterous and confident. It's exactly the kind of first day stuff you'd expect at any school.
By early October, it's been pretty quiet at Harper, as far as gun violence goes. But on the day before the homecoming game, during a pep rally, a senior named Damoni who is both on the football team and nominated for Homecoming King, gets word that a good friend of his, James, has been shot.
Host Ira Glass visits Claremont Middle School in Oakland, CA — a school with two principals. Principals Reggie and Ronnie Richardson are also twins.
Producer Alex Blumberg tells the story of how Oklahoma, against huge odds,came to have the first and best publicly-funded pre-school system in thecountry, and how one businessman joined the fight because a cardboard boxfull of evidence convinced him that pre-school was the smartest businessdecision the state could make.
Sonari Glinton tells the story of how a Catholic nun teaches an entire school on Chicago's South Side that we are all truly made in God's image. Sonari is a reporter for NPR News.
Host Ira Glass talks about his experiences reporting on education and theunending question of how we can make schools better. He discusses theChicago Teachers strike and an essay by writer Alex Kotlowitz that talksabout how the strike raises questions about the severity of this challenge.
Our story picks back up with the question of how non-cognitive skills can be taught to older kids who have gone much longer without learning things like self-control, conscientiousness and resilience. Ira returns to the story of Kewauna, the Chicago teenager, who talks about the dramatic ways in which she changed her life.
Host Ira Glass interviews a 14-year old named Annie, who emailed us asking if we would do a show about middle school. She explains why exactly the middle school years can be so daunting.
In an effort to understand the physical and emotional changes middle school kids experience, Ira speaks with reporter Linda Perlstein, who wrote a book called Not Much Just Chillin' about a year she spent following five middle schoolers. Then we hear from producer Alex Blumberg, who was a middle school teacher in Chicago for four years before getting into radio.
When Domingo Martinez was growing up in a Mexican-American family in Texas, Domingo's two middle school aged sisters found a unique way of coping with feelings of inferiority. This story comes from Martinez's memoir The Boy Kings of Texas.
We realized that there are already reporters on the ground, embedded inside middle schools: The kids who report the daily announcements, sometimes on video with full newscast sets. Producer Jonathan Menjivar wondered what would happen if instead of announcing sports scores and the daily cafeteria menu, the kids reported what's really on their minds.
Producer Sarah Koenig reports on a kid we'll call Leo, whose family moved away from Rochester, NY, leaving behind all of Leo's friends andstranding him in a new — and in his opinion, much worse — middle school.
Ira speaks with Shannon Grande, a teacher at Rise Academy in Newark, about a seventh grader who had all sorts of problems with behavior and hygiene and schoolwork. In order to help turn him around, Grande had to harness the power of peer pressure for good.
Alix Spiegel revisits a story she reported in 2006 - which caused more listeners to email us than any other story we've broadcast. It was about a Muslim American girl named "Chloe," who was tormented at school after the students had a lesson on 9/11.
In Malawi, in southeast Africa, not gossiping can be worse than gossiping. Sarah interviews a young Malawian woman named Hazel Namandingo, who explains that because so many people have HIV and AIDS in Malawi, they often rely on gossip to figure out who's safe to date or marry.
Host Ira Glass tells the stories of two professors, each making a calculation that no one had made before. One gets acclaim.
Producer Sarah Koenig continues the story Terry Engelder and Dan Volz, their rival calculations about natural gas in Pennsylvania, and how each was treated by his university. She explains how Pennsylvania's universities, politicans and industry have united to develop natural gas.
Unemployment is 9 percent, but it's worst among high school dropouts andpeople with only a high school education. Adam went to a place that'strying to help them find jobs: an organization called Pathstone, inRochester, NY.
Ira plays a recorded example of American-style democracy, a school board meeting in Tucson, recorded by a high school teacher, Sarah Bromer.
Reporter Starlee Kine observes what would have happened if the U.S.-led invasion of Grenada in 1983 had been decided not by Ronald Reagan, but by a bunch of middle schoolers...and she remembers a class trip to the Nixon library, where Nixon aide HR Haldeman spoke.
As adults battle over how climate change should be taught in school, we try an experiment. We ask Dr Roberta Johnson, the Executive Director of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, who helps develop curricula on climate change, to present the best evidence there is to a high school skeptic, a freshman named Erin Gustafson.
Jyllian Gunther visits The Brooklyn Free School, where there are no courses, no tests and no homework, and where the kids decide everything about how the school is run, including discipline. Jyllian is a filmmaker, working on a documentary called Growing Small.
Sarah Koenig drives to Jeffersonville, a town of about 1200, and when she asks who is the most interesting person in town, she's led to Sonya Mallory.
In the world of engineers and investors, there's something called the "elevator pitch." It's what you'd say if you ran into a rich investor in an elevator, and had only 60 seconds to sell your product. The concept is so common that MIT actually hosts a contest for the best elevator pitch.