Dan Barkin

Learning as we go

Staff WriterJune 9, 2007 

We're more than a month into the changes we've made to this page, and we've learned some things. The "Local Hero" feature introduced us to Freda Jeffreys, 85, of Rolesville. She just became a published author with a book of poems and short stories. A nursing home resident, she prays with others and reads to the blind. There are a lot of Local Heroes in the Triangle, folks who do good, usually without recognition.

In the past month, we've learned that in Susan Hirsch's civics and economics class at East Wake High, the 10th-graders were reading three versions of "Little Red Hen" to come to grips with how economic choices are made. In all the econ classes I ever took, we mostly looked at graphs on the board. The "Little Red Hen" would have been less boring.

In all the coverage of reassignment lawsuits and budgets, it's easy to forget that the action is in the classroom. The feature "What's being taught in ..." provides a window to the most important place in education.

Matthew Eisley, one of our reporters, has been writing a "News for Newcomers" feature, and one thing newcomers need to know is our unpleasant history of hurricanes over the past decade or so. I was struck by his May 28 entry, which noted that since Hurricane Fran in 1996, there are 1.5 million more North Carolinians waiting for the next big one. That's a lot of people who didn't experience Fran chugging up I-40, teaching us how easily trees come down, or Hurricane Floyd flooding Eastern North Carolina in '99.

Reporters have been using 2B to ask for help on stories such as Raleigh's search for a new police chief. This page is a good place to check what we're working on -- and to see what's on the community's mind.

In addition to your opinions, we'd like your slice-of-life essays. This is the "post your own story" box asking people to talk about ... anything, really. For example: What's it like seeing your son or daughter graduate high school? All you need to do is go on the share.triangle.com site and click on the "News" link.

A new front door

We've put a new front door on the Forums section at share.triangle.com. The design is intended to give people a faster look at the forums that have had recent posts. It also gives a view of how many people are checking a particular forum. The winner is the comics forum with nearly 12,000 views and 262 posts with your views on comics we have been trying. I have it on good authority (my source: Thad Ogburn, features editor) that guest strip "Cafe Con Leche" is leaving soon. Judging by your comments, its departure will be wildly popular.

Deputy managing editor Dan Barkin can be reached at 829-4562 or dan.barkin@newsobserver.com.

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