Communications 101 is my latest column published in American School Board Journal. Given the turnover that school boards see each winter following an election cycle, it’s a a good time to look at the do’s and don’ts of communications. Consider this a how to help your board become educated about the norms and protocols of your governance team.
Last year, I wrote a freelance story on how schools on the Texas Gulf Coast were recovering following Hurricane Harvey. The same week, 12 months later, I returned to Galveston County to report on another disaster: the shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 people dead and 13 injured.
How the district is dealing with the aftermath of two large-scale traumatic events in a single school year is the focus of “After It All Falls Apart,” published in this month’s American School Board Journal. It is available to read in PDF form here and is also on the National School Boards Association website in text form here.
During a 10-day trip to Texas earlier this month, I was fortunate to catch Grammy and Academy Award-winning songwriter Ryan Bingham in an intimate acoustic show at the 299-seat One World Theatre outside Austin.
Here are photos from the last stop on Chris Stapleton's All-American Road Show Tour on Sunday at Baltimore's Royal Farms Arena. Stapleton's mix of hard country and soul was on full display during the show, which saw Marty Stuart & The Fabulous Superlatives as well as rising country singer Brent Cobb as opening acts. It was a show not to be missed.
Austin-based Reckless Kelly stopped at City Winery in Washington, D.C., as part of a short East Coast tour that runs through Nov. 8. Two decades into their career, the band remains a forceful stage presence deserving of a much wider audience.
A pleasant surprise was opener Jeff Crosby and the Refugees, who played a 40 minute set. During Reckless Kelly's encore, Crosby came out to play with the band on covers of Tom Petty's "Listen to Her Heart" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son."
Seven of my freelance articles focusing on a diverse range of topics have been published in four national magazines this fall.
Three of the articles look at trends in K-12 schools and higher education. Two look at staffing services that help companies deal with a tough hiring environment and operational challenges. One examines whether to make crucial capital investments to expand business opportunities, and another looks at the challenges of printing on recycled plastics.
Below are brief summaries of each story. Click on the link to read or download the pieces in PDF form:
American School Board Journal
Teachers in Turmoil: The nation’s K-12 teachers are not happy—and they’re making their frustrations known. This past spring, they walked out of classrooms in six states to protest years of low pay and poor working conditions. An unprecedented number ran for seats in their state legislatures and for Congress. Add to that a 23 percent decline in the number of people completing teacher preparation programs, and you have a crisis in the making. (October-November)
Old Schools Never Die: Closing a neighborhood school is one of the most difficult and controversial decisions boards and superintendents make, even if doing so makes educational and financial sense. Community emotions run high before, during, and after the process, and the blowback is often fierce. (October-November)
Deciding with Data: Higher education institutions—large and small, public and private—are increasingly tapping into data to make better informed decisions about their international recruitment efforts. Doing so, however, raises a number of questions, as this story for NAFSA: Association of International Educators notes: Among them: What types of data should be gathered? What customer relationship management (CRM) tools should be used to slice and dice the data? How can international enrollment managers take what is gleaned from their data and use it with internal and external audiences? (September-October)
Before You Make a Capital Investment: More and more small and midsize commercial graphics and printing companies are expanding, thanks to new, business-favorable tax laws and a steady economy, as this story in the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association magazine notes. With three out of four small businesses planning to invest in technology, equipment upgrades and hiring staff, here are some things to watch. (September-October)
The Green Evolution: Concerns over costs and quality control have prevented printing on recycled plastics from taking hold on a widespread basis. But it is likely coming, thanks to the rapid evolution of digital technologies and retailer demand. For now, companies need to know the issues associated with printing on recycled materials and start educating their clients about the drawbacks and long-term potential of doing so. (July-August)
Navigating a Candidate-Driven Market: A strong U.S. economy combined with a tough hiring environment has resulted in prolonged job vacancies—which can be very good news for staffing companies that have the right recruiting strategies in place. Written for the American Staffing Association’s magazine. (September-October)
Agility Supporting Growth: For small and mid-size staffing companies, focusing on generating revenue is critical to success. Some are finding that outsourcing their “back end” office operations is the way to go. (July-August)
Photos from an acoustic evening with Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen at The Birchmere last week. For a review of the show, go to my new Music: Live & Otherwise blog here.
As I see it, a person’s life is a collection of experiences, big and small. What I love about this work are the types of experiences it brings to my daily life. Each job — whether it’s a photography assignment or a freelance story — provides new opportunities for learning. Each trip to another place represents another chance to be creative, and then share what I see with my eyes.
Chaotic juggling at times? Certainly.
Scary to be out on a creative and financial limb? Definitely.
I would not be able to do this work without the support of Jill, my wife and partner in this life, and my family, friends, and clients. I am eternally grateful to each and every one of you who takes the time to look at my work, show me what you like, and help me in the search for ways to improve.
I hope you enjoy my collections.
"When it rains, it really pours... "
Two weeks ago: Headshots for the MSA Academy, Nutcracker promo shoot, photography for Motion X Dance DC, corporate headshots and a two-plus day retreat on the Pennsylvania-Maryland border.
Last week: Washington-Indianapolis game, three-day trip to Texas for a magazine feature, day-long conference photography in DC, engagement party for Nick and Conner in NC.
This week: Writing, editing and catching up.
Oh my. Feeling blessed.
Photos of The Avett Brothers and Nicole Atkins performing during a sweltering August night at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. This was my first review for the website Americana Highways. To see my review, go to my Music: Live & Otherwise blog. To see more photos, go to my Concert Photography page.
This weekend marks 5 years since I started this website and my Facebook page to share my photos and writing. The goal — then and now — was to tell stories through words and images while building a business that focuses on creative expression. Thanks to all who have supported this journey. Tell your friends to join in, and enjoy the work!
Nine freelance articles published since April have been posted to the New/Recent Articles section of my website. This includes three pieces in which I also shot the photos. You can access them by clicking on the links below.
Working Vacation (August 2018): Despite what naysayers believe, the idea that summer is just a two-month vacation for educators could not be farther from the truth. While some take on second jobs to make ends meet, others dive into learning more about their profession so they can come back stronger in the fall. Written for American School Board Journal.
All About the Money (August 2018): It’s always a good thing for the public to know how tax dollars are being spent. And, given the struggles many districts have faced due to cuts that date back almost a decade, it is incumbent on school leaders to paint an accurate and ongoing picture of the financial challenges they face. Written for American School Board Journal.
Education Abroad (July-August 2018): Study abroad programs are going through a slow but steady evolution. Now in almost every college and university in the United States, the size and structure of these programs vary depending on student demand, faculty support, and the individual institution’s long-term goals. Written for International Educator.
Generation Why (June 2018): The Valentine’s Day shooting that killed 17 at Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School could represent a tipping point for student activism and civic engagement. No longer content to sit on the sidelines, these students — led by Parkland survivors — are marching and protesting at a rate not seen since the Vietnam War. Cover story and photographs for American School Board Journal; to see more, go to the Visual Storytelling section.
No More Game of Phones (June 2018): The measures schools have taken to enhance security have evolved greatly in the almost two decades since the Columbine High School shooting. However, internal communications when a situation erupts have always been a sticking point. Solutions that work well and easily often are overlooked and underrated, complicated in part by an ongoing unease about what technology can and should do in crisis situations. Written for American School Board Journal.
Working with Alumni (March-April 2018): As U.S. colleges and universities work to boost international recruitment efforts, alumni who have graduated and returned to their native countries are sought after resources. But working with alumni can present a series of challenges if you don’t have the proper elements—organization, resources, and understanding—in place. Written for International Educator.
Full STEAM Ahead (May 2018): In a small Tennessee community, three schools have been turned into the first K-12 STEAM cluster in the nation, systematically incorporating arts (A) into the traditional science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curriculum. Written for Techniques, the magazine of the Association for Career and Technical Education.
Rogue on Board (April 2018): A rogue board member who hogs the spotlight, constantly stirring things up, can derail even the best-run school districts. Time that can — and should — be devoted to more pressing matters is spent addressing issues raised by a member who has no individual power but uses the position as a bully pulpit. Written for American School Board Journal.
Preschool Push (April 2018): More than a half century after Head Start was initiated, questions persist about how to best serve young children, as policymakers, parents, and school leaders wrestle with the question, “When should a child’s formal education begin?” A growing research base shows that high-quality pre-k programs have both short- and long-term benefits for students, but bringing those programs to scale remains challenging due to long-standing questions over funding and teacher quality. Written for American School Board Journal.
A new communications/public advocacy column I wrote appears in the current issue of American School Board Journal. See it here.
My oldest son received his master’s degree on Thursday. Less than 24 hours later, a 17-year-old gunman killed eight of his classmates and two teachers in a high school only 16 miles from my childhood home.
The shooting at Santa Fe High School was and is disturbing for all the reasons you can imagine: Another senseless loss of lives. Another incident of gun violence in a country marred by decades of it. Another realization that, no matter how many steps local districts take, preventing someone determined to come into a classroom with a firearm is perhaps just … not … possible?
My four children are 25, 21, 20 and 20. Ben and Emma were 16 months old when Columbine occurred. Kate was 2 and Nicholas was in first grade. We count ourselves lucky that nothing like this happened to them when they were in school.
What does that say about our society?
This school shooting was the third in eight days and the 22nd since the start of the year in the U.S. It occurred just three months and four days after 17 were slain at Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School, which led to two student walkouts and the March for Our Lives events across the nation.
I was at the March in Washington, D.C., taking photos and working on a freelance story about youth who were galvanized by the movement started by Stoneman Douglas students. I didn’t write the headline for the story, which looked at whether the Florida shooting could lead to a new era of civic engagement, but believe it is perfect.
It reads: Generation Why.
That’s the burning question asked first and most often when something like this happens. We are on an endless search for motive, a trend that will be the path to answers. Camps form within minutes, if not seconds, on social media. The phrase “thoughts and prayers,” no matter how sincere in intent, now is considered a synonym for doing nothing.
At the March, I interviewed more than 20 students and adults for a series of portraits that would accompany the story. (Some are in the magazine article; you can find the portraits in expanded form here.) I was struck by the kids’ determination not to go through life afraid of going to school.
Despite our need to understand why something happens, we are stubbornly resistant to one-size-fits-all answers, which leads to an endless round robin of he-said, she-said rhetoric that does no one any good. It’s not guns; it’s people. It’s not people; it’s guns.
Grieving quickly turns to shouting. Nothing happens. And we wait, knowing that it likely — inevitably — will happen again.
Tennessee's Maury County Schools, located about 50 miles from Nashville, has embarked on an ambitious K-12 STEAM initiative in one of its communities. My story (with photos) about the resurrection of Mount Pleasant is the lead story in this issue of the Association of Career and Technical Education's magazine, Techniques. Read more about it here.
My four-page freelance story on the push for improved preschool programs is featured in the current issue of American School Board Journal. See the story, which includes six of my photos, here.
Photos from today’s March for Our Lives taken from the 6th floor of the Newseum. More to come soon from this moving event.
Best letter to a Congressman that I’ve seen in a long time.
Wrap your thoughts around the following paragraph. Say a prayer. And for God’s sake, DO SOMETHING.
"This is at least the third school shooting this year, and one of the deadliest on record. Beginning with Columbine 19 years ago, more than 150,000 students attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus, according to a Washington Post analysis of online archives, state and federal enrollment figures, and news stories. That doesn’t count dozens of suicides, accidents and after-school assaults that have also exposed children to gunfire."
— Source: The Washington Post, 2/15/18
So I watched the CNN Town Hall as part of research for a story I’m writing on school shootings. In many respects, it had the feel of a community wake and the start of a larger conversation that is 20+ years too late.
You can’t help but be moved by the raw words and visceral responses of a community traumatized by yet another horrific incident on one our nation’s campuses. Kudos to those who went into this knowing they would be roasted, such as Rubio.
Most of all, kudos to those who said the time for talk is over. Don’t say something; do something.
It’s worth noting those who were conspicuous by their absence. Why did the governor and the FBI not show? Why won’t state leaders engage these kids in public?
Why? That’s the lingering question no one seems to be able to answer. But the tide could be turning.
I’ve been giving the situation in Florida a great deal of thought over the past several days and have a few observations:
1. What makes this school shooting different than similarly horrific incidents is you have a community of teens who has had enough and is willing to do something about it. Say what you will about timing, grieving and place for these types of debates, but denying the power of these future leaders to galvanize and force change at a time when our government is stuck in its same-ole, same-ole battles is the equivalent of impersonating an ostrich. (An ostrich that, BTW, can’t decide whether to bury his/her head in the sand or a chosen part of his/her anatomy.)
2. Saying these kids are fake actors or are having their statements written for them is a either a blatant misunderstanding or utter lack of respect of their intelligence and values.
3. These digital natives are smart, pissed and have access to tools to bring their message to a worldwide audience in a nanosecond. They have no patience for platitudes, thoughts and prayers, no matter how sincere we are. Lip service is out; action is in. The fact that they are grieving openly while demanding change is not something that should be dismissed, but heralded.
4. We talk about the current generation’s lack of civic engagement. And yet, when kids become engaged about something that goes against society’s longstanding beliefs/mores, we try to dismiss or disparage them. You can’t have it both ways. A bedrock of engagement is the knowledge that people can and will disagree before reaching consensus, and being comfortable enough in ourselves to allow that to happen in a civil manner. If, sadly, the pain and suffering of others is what has to happen to bring change, then we should be applauding them for their courage instead of denigrating them or dismissing their opinions.
5. Note that I’m not making a blanket statement about gun control, espousing conspiracy theories, or disparaging the values and beliefs of others. There’s plenty of that going around already. My hope is that this level of engagement from our kids — the ones we claim are our future leaders — can be appreciated, respected and, ultimately, valued.
Two freelance articles — one a feature on the state of the student press — appear in the new issue of American School Board Journal. To read the pieces, click on the links below.
Student Press (February 2018): Student journalists in 13 states have press freedoms and protections, but administrators in the rest continue to review and censor school-sponsored publications under a 29-year-old U.S. Supreme Court decision. But officials say the tide appears to be turning, at least in some areas.
Public Comments (February 2018): The public comment portion of any school board meeting can turn quickly into a communications debacle for the board and district. Over time, however, courts have ruled consistently that the public has a right to raise and air complaints during an open meeting, even when individual employees are named.
Here’s a good Sunday read…
In September, three weeks after Hurricane Harvey, I went to Texas to write a story and take photos on how schools were recovering. The result is the cover story of month’s issue of American School Board Journal.
You can see the story and layout, which includes more than 30 of my photos, by clicking on this link. If you’d like to read just the narrative, go to this page on the National School Boards Association’s website.
I've also done a narrated slideshow that the accompanies the story. Take a look below:
Earlier this month, I spent a week taking photos and reporting a story on Hurricane Harvey for an upcoming issue of American School Board Journal, the National School Boards Association’s magazine. Having written on the aftermath of natural disasters before, I wanted to understand Harvey’s far-reaching impact on communities and schools in the wake of the late August storm.
Being there from Sept. 11 to Sept. 18 gave me the chance to follow Harvey along much of its 300-mile path from Rockport, near Corpus Christi, to the Louisiana border. At this point, cleanup was kicking into gear and schools were just resuming in many of the impacted communities, although it will be some time before those near the storm’s eye will be open again.
In the hardest hit areas, the loss was overwhelming. Contents of family life spilled out into yard after yard and neighborhood after neighborhood, mixed with swollen sheetrock and the growing presence of mold. “Strong” was the byword used in many communities as they demonstrated an unheard of level of resilience in the face of an economic and environmental tragedy. The generosity of others — some fellow community members, some total strangers — was constantly on display.
The story will appear in the November issue of the magazine, and I’ll be sure to share it here. For now, follow my camera on a day-by-day journey through a state that is injured, but not broken. And check out more photos on my Facebook photography page here.
As I work on this piece about schools and Hurricane Harvey, I can't help but think of those affected by Irma and the other natural disasters. But, having traveled along the path of a hurricane over nine days, I'm also convinced that Harvey was a one of a kind disaster. (I hope so, anyway.)
I'm also convinced that Texans are folks who pull themselves up by their bootstraps, murmur a "f-this" (or some other, more religious equivalent), and move on to the next thing.
Some of you may think that "(Fill in the blank) Strong" is nothing more than hackneyed phrase by now. I get it, because why is it necessary to say something that is so evident in every community affected along the Texas Gulf Coast?
You've got this, Texas. There are a host of other issues you need to address, but on this count, you've got this part down.
Art therapy is a fast-growing but still relatively new practice around the world, having started in the early 1970s in the U.S. and Britain. In a story for the magazine International Educator, I looked at how this type of therapy is moving beyond the visual arts to incorporate dance, music and other forms to promote healing around the world.
You can see this and other recent pieces I've written at http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance.
Two more recent freelance stories look at the effort to integrate the arts into STEM curriculums around the country. The stories, which are part of a Technology column I write for the National School Boards Association, can be found under the header “Building Up STEAM” at http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance
A freelance story I wrote on the “13 Reasons Why” phenomenon and the effect it is having on school districts is featured in the current issue of American School Board Journal. The story looks at how school districts were caught off guard by the Netflix show about the death by suicide of a teenage girl and the tapes she leaves behind, as well as the potential legal and ethical ramifications for school districts.
You can find the story at http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance.
Four years ago today, I formally started my business with this photo, which was taken during a Memorial Day trip to New York City. Clicking the shutter that day, in May 2013, I did not know I would be unemployed in a week.
After 30 years in journalism and communications, moving from job to job and seeing professional growth with each position, being laid off left me — and my family — adrift. I knew I had to do something, but prospects in an ever-changing publishing world were limited. Also, having worked for the same company for 12 years, I had seen a once vigorous operation slowly succumb to financial and organizational erosion, and I wasn't sure I wanted to face that prospect again.
Being on your own has its downsides. You rarely know what the next day will bring. Stability is elusive. You can work 24-7 without batting an eye. You have to rely on the faith of others (especially family and close friends) and word of mouth. And you have to hope that your work is not just good, but good enough, so clients will pass along your name.
Knowing these things, I formally launched this photography and freelance writing business five weeks after losing my job. Working on this website over the Fourth of July holiday, I launched my Facebook page on July 7, 2013.
And here we are, four years and more than 12,000 photos later, having slowly but steadily built a client base that I can only hope will continue to grow. Thankfully, I've had the opportunity to branch off into all sorts of things, meet a wide range of new (and usually fascinating) people, and have the types of experiences I dreamed about while sitting at an office desk all those years.
The creative malaise I dealt with for 2+ years in my previous position — an apt visual analogy is 1,000 small but painful paper cuts — has never returned. If anything, I feel more creative and engaged than ever.
As a storyteller, one who uses images and words to tell his tales, these last four years have been a lifeline. And I know, without question, I could not do this if it weren't for my wife, Jill, and my families (biological and otherwise).
I'm eternally grateful for your help, support, comments and feedback along the way. Thank you, and I hope you'll keep coming back to visit/use my services.
Conference photography is a growing — and highly enjoyable — part of my business. Earlier this month, I shot the APMP Bid and Proposal Conference in New Orleans and the Graduate Management Admission Council’s annual conference in San Francisco. I already have three more conferences scheduled in November and December and am bidding on several others.
The best conference photos, in my opinion, tell stories using visuals rather than words. Nothing bothers me more than the photographer obstructing the views of both the speaker and audience, so I try to remain as unobtrusive as possible. Unless it is absolutely necessary, I do not use flash during sessions, because this has the same disrupting effect on the speakers and audience at a live performance or show.
APMP, which serves professionals dedicated to winning business through proposals, bids, tenders, and presentations, holds a three-day professional conference for its members. More than 900 attended this year’s June 13-15 event, the largest in the association’s history. Over three-plus days (including preconference sessions and portraits for the board of directors before the meeting started), I shot and edited more than 600 photos, completing the task before leaving New Orleans to visit family in Texas.
This marked the fourth time I’ve shot the GMAC annual conference, held June 21-23 in San Francisco. Each time, I cull through the edited photos to produce a 2- to 3-minute slideshow of highlights that is aired during the final general session.
An aspect of my journalism career — working on deadline — also has helped in my approach to conference photography. I carve out time during breaks and in between sessions to dump and edit what I’ve shot. Typically, you shoot three to five photos for every one you keep, so this approach gives me a running tally of what I’ve got, and allows time for more shooting if necessary.
This year, for the first time, the slideshow came as close to real time as possible. I had a backup from the first two days already completed, but wanted to see if I could push the envelope. I took photos from the final morning of presentations, went out, picked the best, and edited them. I then shot photos at the start of the 90-minute final general session, edited the best, and added those to the slideshow as well.
When the slideshow — see below — aired, audience members saw about 15 photos that had been taken that morning. In that respect, the photos told the whole story of the meeting.
Two new freelance articles and several of my photographs appear in the current issue of three national magazines. All have been uploaded to the website and are now available for viewing.
• Several photos from last fall’s trip to Zurich, Switzerland appear in the Association for Career and Technical Education's March 2017 issue of its flagship magazine, Techniques. The trip focused on how Colorado schools are adopting facets of the Swiss apprenticeship model, which ACTE delves into with a feature and Q&A with the Swiss ambassador to the United States.
• Simple Logic, which is in the current issue of American School Board Journal, is a technology column that focuses on the need for more computer science and coding classes in K-12 schools. Today, only 24 states allow students to count computer science classes as part of their high school science credits. While more than a half million computing jobs are unfilled in the U.S., just 42,969 computer science students graduated into the workforce in 2015-16.
• LMJ Scholarship — Atticus Lee: The sixth in a series of stories about recipients of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s LMJ Scholarship appears in the current issue of Diversity & The Bar.
For more stories and features I've written over the past year, go to http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance.
Apprentice Approach, a freelance story that looks at how schools in Colorado are adopting facets of the Swiss apprenticeship model, appears in the new issue of American School Board Journal. You can read the story the story I wrote here and see a slideshow of photos from my trip with the delegation in the Events section of my website.
“Aftershock,” a story I wrote that looks at the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election and its effect on K-12 schools, has been published by American School Board Journal a week before the inauguration. Read the story here.
Five recent articles published in three different magazines this fall have recently been uploaded to my "New/Recent Articles" section. You can check them out by clicking on the links below or by going here.
Act Globally (November-December 2016): Increasingly, higher education drama programs are offering international experiences for their students through academic exchanges and education abroad opportunities. This story, published in the November-December 2016 issue of International Educator, focuses on how these opportunities focus on skill development as well as social justice and global issues in the developing world.
Leading the Leap (December 2016): Online assessments are here to stay, regardless of whether your state has embraced the Common Core Standards. In this column for American School Board Journal, I look at how a toolkit scheduled to be unveiled in December 2016 will help schools and districts assess their readiness and ability to effectively deliver these assessments.
Cracking the Literacy Code (October 2016): Cracking the code on literacy, especially in majority-minority school districts, is no easy task. As this story in American School Board Journal notes, large-scale initiatives are costly and time intensive, and the needle on achievement rarely moves quickly. Earning buy-in and support from community and business leaders is critical, as is the need to provide strong professional development to teachers and a rigorous evaluation system that can accurately determine whether a program is working.
Technology Evolution (October 2016): In today's device-filled world, the tools students and teachers use can be terrific, but they have proven time and again to be no replacement for quality instruction. As this column in American School Board Journal notes, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is taking on the conundrum with its second revision of its technology standards for students.
Finding the Class of 2009 (October 2016): The latest in a series of articles written for the Minority Corporate Counsel Association's Diversity & The Bar magazine focuses on Nila Bala, a public defender in Baltimore, Md.
CareerWise Colorado, a statewide initiative that aims to place 20,000 high school students in apprenticeships by 2027, led a delegation of educators, state government and nonprofit leaders, and workforce development officials on a five-day tour to Zurich, Switzerland, last week to study the country’s apprenticeship programs.
Led by officials from CEMETS, a division of the KOF Swiss Economic Institute, the tour included site visits to Libs, CYP, Zurich Business School, Swisscom, and EWH-Zurich, which provide a variety of training programs to Swiss students. In Switzerland, 70 percent of students choose to do apprenticeships in more than 200 occupations.
CareerWise, a nonprofit that formally launched in September with the support of the state’s governor and several large Colorado companies, is inspired by the Swiss model for connecting employers and educational institutions.
CareerWise Colorado’s goal is to serve about 10 percent of eligible high school students in the state within 10 years. Starting in 2017-18, businesses and corporations in the fields of information technology, financial and professional services, advanced manufacturing, and hospitality will offer high school juniors and seniors paid, on-the-job learning experiences in high-demand fields.
One highlight of the trip was a visit to the Bern home of U.S. Ambassador Suzi Levine, a leader in the initiative to implement Swiss-style apprenticeship programs in the U.S.
Ambassador Levine and her husband, Eric, were gracious hosts and described in detail their passion for bringing the model to K-12 schools and community colleges in the U.S.
A profile of Native American activist Carly Bad Heart Bull, the latest in a series of freelance stories I'm writing for the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, appears in the current issue of the magazine "Diversity & The Bar." To read more about this fascinating woman, go here.
For much of the past year, I have been profiling winners of the LMJ Scholarship for one of my clients, the Washington, D.C.-based Minority Corporate Counsel Association. My newest piece, “The Future of the Legal Profession,” focuses on the 2015-16 scholarship winners and is featured in the current issue of MCCA's magazine, "Diversity & The Bar."
You can access the feature by visiting the New/Recent Articles section of my website at http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance.
How do you make the regulatory process surrounding the nation’s largest education law interesting? Take a look at my story in the Summer 2016 issue of ASCD’s "Policy Priorities," which focuses on the development of regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act, the long-awaited successor to No Child Left Behind.
In addition to the main story, you can also read a sidebar that includes a step-by-step breakdown of the process. (And it really is interesting, too.)
For more recently published articles, visit http://glenncook.virb.com/freelance.
This spring, I served as one of two writers for the annual edition of enVision, the magazine of the University of South Florida’s College of Engineering. In all, I wrote 11 stories that were published in the magazine, which is available to students and alumni.
The assignments were a fascinating mix of alumni profiles and features on work currently underway by students and faculty at the Tampa-based college. You can read more about the individual stories or access a PDF of all of them by clicking on this link.
Lori McKenna started her “Wreck You” tour to promote her new CD a week before it was released, and was surprised to learn she could sell copies of “The Bird & The Rifle” before it becomes available to the general public.
“I didn’t know you could do that,” she said during her show at Jammin’ Java just outside Washington, D.C.
Such is the state of the music business, where release dates have been moved from Tuesdays to Fridays and smaller labels (such as McKenna’s) operate much differently than the now shrunken behemoths. Today, however, you and anyone else with an iTunes account can purchase “The Bird & The Rifle,” the latest in a series of gems from this mother of five who lives with her husband of 28 years outside Boston.
In a just world, McKenna’s music would get the same level of promotion — and subsequent sales — as the increasing number of artists who cover her richly detailed songs. One of those songs, “Humble and Kind,” topped the charts when Tim McGraw — whose wife, Faith Hill, helped McKenna get her big break as a songwriter in 2005 — released it last year.
McGraw’s mainstream sincerity (and video with connections to Oprah Winfrey) made the song a hit, but McKenna reclaims it on her new album. At the Jammin’ Java concert, she talked about writing the song at her dining room table between dropping off and picking up her kids from school. When you hear it on the CD, you can almost see her writing in longhand.
Hold the door say please say thank you
Don't steal, don't cheat, and don't lie
I know you got mountains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind
When the dreams you're dreamin' come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind
Don’t expect a free ride from no one
Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why
Bitterness keeps you from flyin’
Always stay humble and kind
As a longtime fan — I have all 10 of McKenna’s albums — I’ve always appreciated her eye for life’s little details and ability to capture with grace and empathy the struggles of people just trying to get by. In concert, she almost apologizes for writing so many sad songs — the first single on the new CD is titled “Wreck You” — and while it’s true that none of her work qualifies as summer beach music, what she manages to capture is much more real instead.
“The Bird & The Rifle,” however, has a new wrinkle: Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb, who has worked wonders for Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton. Cobb and a host of Nashville’s top musicians compliment McKenna’s words in a way I haven’t heard before. It is, without question, the best sounding record she has made.
So, if you can, try to catch McKenna live sometime this summer. And stick around for the encore, where she performs “Girl Crush,” a song co-written with Liz Rose and Hillary Lindsey and recorded by Little Big Town. That one won McKenna a Grammy, and long overdue recognition that her words speak volumes.
One of my freelance jobs is serving as a technology columnist/contributing editor to American School Board Journal, the magazine where I worked for 13 years. The technology column, which started in January 2015 and appears six times a year, looks at trends and issues of relevance to school board members and top-level administrators.
Here are two of my latest efforts. Click on the link to read them:
Security Goes High-Tech: Technology and security are inextricably linked in K-12 schools. From dealing with crisis situations to safeguarding student and staff data, how you use the tools at your disposal is critical. (July-August 2016)
Online Learning 2.0: Educators nationwide continue to search for ways to meld traditional and digital learning for all students. It’s a combination that has proven full of promise, with more than a few lessons—and potholes—along the way for school boards, administrators, teachers, and communities. (May-June 2016)
"Comeback Season," a freelance story for American School Board Journal, received a Silver Award for Feature Writing in the Association Media & Publishing's 2016 EXCEL Awards competition last night. My friend and former co-worker, Kathleen Vail, also received a Silver for her piece, "Mission: Space."
The awards, handed out during a banquet at AM&P's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., were in the 20,000 to 50,000 category. To read the story, go here.
Profiles of David Lewis (left) and Will Nevin, part of an ongoing "Where Are They Now?" series I'm writing for the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, are featured in the magazine, Diversity & The Bar. Lewis, who overcame a difficult childhood to receive the 2006 LMJ Scholarship from MCCA, has started his own business in the Chicago area that acquires and builds companies in the transportation, distribution and logistics industry. Nevin, a 2007 LMJ award winner and Native American from Alabama, lost more than half of his body weight after a health scare in law school. He now teaches journalism at the University of West Alabama and writes for al.com.
You can download the stories from the links above or go to the New/Recent Articles section of my website.