Today is Mary Turck’s last day as editor of the Twin Cities Daily Planet. I can’t believe it.
I can’t believe I had the good fortune to cross paths with Mary last year, at the Parents United Summit in St. Paul, where she asked if I’d like to do some education writing for the Daily Planet. I am so glad I said yes, even though I had just one news article under my belt.
The first education story I covered for the Daily Planet was a “scoop” about a possible University of Minnesota/Teach for America partnership. Nothing like trial by fire, I guess. I was born into a family of journalists but had no formal training in it; I needed the straightforward guidance and the push to seek clear information over enflamed opinion that Mary gave to me. She does not suffer fools gladly, and that’s just what I needed to help me learn to be a more disciplined writer.
In the year since, I have covered stories that I think are incredibly important, from profiles of families who send their kids to the Minneapolis Public Schools (which the district loved) to an examination of MPS’ use of “Focused Instruction” (which the district hated). I have gained the confidence of many and the fear and dislike of some, including officials within the Minneapolis Public Schools. Along the way, I’ve learned from Mary that walking forward, with my eyes open, is the best way to keep moving, even when writing honestly feels like a very uncomfortable line of work.
I still have a lot to learn, but working with Mary has given me enough lessons in persistence, clarity, and audience awareness to push me forward. She has helped me see just how important independent, investigative education writing is, and I hope to do my part to keep it going.
Best of luck and many thanks, Mary.