Narrative Journalism

Project Board

Will Fosnot
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Project Board

Hugo Fowler
1 / 1

Project Board

Cleo Podrasky
1 / 1

Poster

Siena Jekel
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in plain sight

Anara Magavi

It's art and option-eering     Ji picks up a salad bowl for lunch the day of her interview. She walks over to a table in the hallway with Luis, a co-worker at NuVu Innovation School and friend. She is wearing olive green velvety pants, and a white sweater with grey cross pattern stripes, over that she wears a slightly clay covered grey apron, and on her feet are colorful patterned socks under brown leather shoes. She sits down calmly and crosses her right leg over the left before starting to eat.

Jiyoo Jye, or Ji, grew up in Seoul with two other siblings, an older brother named Sunny and an older sister who is also called Ji. She graduated from Centennial High School in Maryland and went to Carnegie Mellon University for college, and later attended Harvard Graduate School of Design. She knew that she wanted to do art since she was a kid, because she always would be always drawing and painting.

“Art is something that captures the remnant of that time period so whoever is alive during that time has the capacity to capture what they experience as a human [...] and express it in a non verbal way.”

When Ji is doing art, she feels very liberated and in tune with herself. She does art both for herself and to share it with the world. People say successful artists are the ones who make the most money but Ji doesn't agree.

“A very successful artist, in my opinion, is someone who can still value that practice for their own needs and fulfillment without the pressure and anxiety of a price tag. Because, ultimately, when you create something meaningful and valuable or beautiful you should be able to share that with as many people as possible without building walls around your piece.”

After lunch, Ji walks into work through a panther pink arch, into a bright modern room with plants studded around on windowsills and tables. On her left is the shop where Jon, the shop teacher, is sitting at his computer and typing. To her right are people chattering about various topics. She walks further down the hallway into her studio. Inside, students are working meticulously on modeling softwares and sketching their ideas. She walks over to a whiteboard and starts erasing and rewriting names.

“No one on this list is here right now. Ethan, would you like to be the first desk crit?” She is standing with a confident air, her feet are shoulder length apart and her arms are crossed.

Ji says that one of the reasons she likes coaching at NuVu is because she can convince her students that there is still merit and value in striving to become a certain type of artist in today’s society without selling themselves short. She says that NuVu is all about life long learning and how you can teach yourself and train yourself to learn everyday. She thinks that there should always be a way to access art in the public realm without having to go to a gallery or museum.

Ji is an inspirational and skilled artist and coach.

“There are always creative upticks and creative pitfalls. Both are very crucial, because without those pitfalls, you don't have inspiration. The times when you're bored and you can't work are also important ‘cause that's when it propels you forward to that episode when you're creating just lots and lots of work.”

Ji smiles and looks back down at the blend of ceramic and plaster spread across the table. She takes a rag and starts wiping down the raw clay in front of her. 

Presentation

Cleo Podrasky
1 / 5

The hero behind the scenes

Karen Sutton and her contributions to NuVu


By Cleo Podrasky

A woman sits on the edge of her seat, typing in ebbs and flows as she writes an email. She stares, thinking, and then bursts into a flurry of words. Her desk is fairly organized with notes about her plans for the day strewn on the right side of it, while pencil-holders and knickknacks are to the left. The incessant clicking of the keyboard continues as she gathers her thoughts and explains the programs offered by her workplace. She smiles faintly and sends the email, moving on to the next.

Karen Sutton, the Director of Operations at an experimental school in Cambridge, MA, tends to have a busy day. She either spends her time at her desk, writing miscellaneous emails to faculty, or she paces around, listening to people on the other side of the phone. NuVu Studio is a busy place, too, with students ranging from 8th to 12th grade working on their projects, racing in and out of the workshop with safety glasses still on their heads. However, few of these students truly know what she actually does, and realize her contribution to their education.

First off, she has to communicate with people outside of NuVu to make sure that the employees are getting paid and to discover whether or not the organization is adhering to the budget. This can take up most of her day, as these communications are coming in constantly. Because of this, she works within a certain policy; she consistently answers all of her incoming messages within 24 hours, even if she doesn’t have the answer. “Maybe it’s outdated or old-fashioned,” she says, “but I can’t stand a full inbox, especially when it’s in the double-digits.”

She also has to answer questions posed by companies who are helping NuVU expand their space. “I have quite a bit of responsibility with the financial aspect of this company, so I need to make sure that the invoices are being sent out, bills are being paid, and budgets are being adhered to,” she tells me in an interview. “I communicate all of this and work very, very closely with Saeed on that end. I don’t really share much information regarding finances with anybody else except for Saba, and to make sure that we are financially solvent is the biggest thing.” This tends to leave her fully in charge of communicating with companies about finance and services.

As she types one of these emails, she discovers questions piling up in her inbox. She purses her lips in thought and leans forward slightly. Oftentimes, she spends her whole day responding to contractors and employees, but that doesn’t stop her. “I love a challenge, and I love to take things on and do them well,” she says to me while working tirelessly on a letter. “I love my job, and the reason why I love this job is that, at my age, I got a second opportunity to really work hard, and learn, and sort of relive my thirties.”

As she’s about to begin another email, Saeed walks over to her desk and explains something about the plants. She glides over to the hallway full of Elephant Ear plants and other tropical greenery and clears the plants of insects and other critters that might harm them. While doing so, she explains to me her relationship with Saeed. “The only person who knows that I make a mistake is usually Saeed. l I stress out when I make a mistake. I hate, more than anything, when I make a mistake, and when I make a mistake, it’s like I just stabbed somebody. It’s just awful.”

In addition to taking care of plants (and her mistakes), she does many other things around NuVu. From staff to scheduling, to letting students in the front door, Karen oversees it all. “I make sure that all of the staff has what they need to do their job and feels supported by NuVu, and that falls into the category of HR,” she explains emphatically. “Benefits, insurance, making sure that they have information, that their questions are answered, so that in everything, from health to travel to expenses to day-to-day operations, people are informed.”

Originally, though, Karen didn’t have the same job here at NuVu. She started out as the Vice President of an educational travel company at age 25, which required a lot of effort and dedication to perform well. She had two kids soon afterward, though, and she made a decision to due to the complications of being a full-time mother. After floating around several easier, part-time jobs, she wanted to have more of a challenge. She joined the NuVu team, but for the first six months, few people, including Karen herself, thought that it was going to work out, as it was hard for her to adjust to. However, after those three months, “Things clicked, and I think I had personal growth; I understood dynamics much, much better.”

Now, Karen is sitting at her desk again, typing into her schedule. As usual, it is fairly packed, and yet she always seems to make room for more; after all, NuVu can be unpredictable, and many things change on a day-to-day basis. NuVu is busy, and because of this, Karen is too. However, she always makes an effort to look on the bright side, despite her worries about events; “There’s always a value in responding, and you never, ever know if your positive response will lead to some amazing opportunity to NuVu. You just never know- It’s better to be positive and professional because that generates good vibes everywhere.”

Teaching Transformation Through Time

Uliana Dukach
1 / 5

Teaching transformation through time

As I walk through the pink doors into the NuVu Innovation School, a NuVu teacher, which is called a coach, is wandering around. Students are chattering away and yet through the thickness of the noise, the coach still hears their name being called. The coach comes over to the student pointing at their computer screen. The student was having issues with putting together a presentation, so the coach swiftly drags the images into their proper positions. The coach asks the student if they need any more help. The student shakes their head and says, “Thanks, Rosa.” Rosa walks away, her brown hair bouncing behind her, ready to help another student.

Believe it or not, Rosa Weinberg wasn’t always such an understanding coach. When she first started coaching, Rosa believes she was extremely forceful. She was out of an architecture master’s program and she was used to an environment of critics.`

“[My professors] wouldn’t necessarily tell you why they are giving you a particular kind of feedback.”

Because of this, Rosa would come up to students and give them the type of feedback that she was used to receiving. This left students confused because they didn’t really understand what they were doing and why they were doing it. On top of this, Rosa wanted to ensure her students were seen as successful by parents and NuVu administration.

“I felt a lot of pressure to have my students have good projects.” All of these expectations that Rosa was putting on her students created tension in their relationship.

At the beginning of her time at NuVu, Rosa wanted to teach full time. “I wanted to take on “One studio after another. Saeed [head of NuVu] told me it would be too difficult and only Andrew had enough energy to teach that much.”

Still, she tried her best and for a while, she was teaching studios left and right. At one point all of this coaching left Rosa exhausted, so she had to find a way to teach and relax.

 After six years, Rosa no longer teaches studios one after another. She has learned that taking breaks and rest time is important. She takes an art course outside of work for a few weeks each year to let her mind focus on something else. Rosa also leaves NuVu early on Tuesday and Thursday to let herself relax and get away from the students. Most importantly, she works on her own projects that are completely unrelated to NuVu. All of these rest and break times allow Rosa to focus on teaching more effectively during school.

On a cold Tuesday morning, Rosa walks around her studio, stopping at each table giving the students feedback. A few students look befuddled. When they ask “why” they need to iterate on their idea a step further, she explains that it will give the students more options. The students proceed to look at their prototype, twisting it around and talking to each other. When they decide what they are going to do, they start sketching out ideas.

After Rosa helps these students, she walks to the center of the room and starts working on her computer. She is coordinating with her co-coaches to decide what the next activity will be. It’s decided.

Rosa walks up to the front of the class and makes an announcement.

“Up next we will be doing our intro activity”.

When a student asks what the point of this activity is, Rosa smiles.

“This is to get your hands dirty and not have to think too much.”

She then tells students to break into groups and think about their ideas. While walking around Rosa hears her name and comes over to help the student. She leans over their desk and picks up their prototype. She looks at it and then sits down, takes out her notepad, and starts giving feedback. While talking with the student she writes down the feedback that she is giving them so that she can hand them the sheet when she is done.

She leaves her hunched over position at the student’s desk and she walks around proudly surveying the studio. Everyone is intensely working. Sketching, prototyping and socializing together. Sitting here, seeing Rosa now, walking around and joking with her students. Connecting with them, I could never imagine her being the coach she says she was in the past.


Inside the Mind of NuVu

Aveen Nagpal
1 / 4

Inside the mind of NuVu | and how it affects the administration

Through the glass pane of the fishbowl, I observe a member of the NuVu administration; She has to substitute in because a coach is sick, taking time out of her already replete workday. She’s happy to help, but she had to reschedule a call and push back some work she was planning on getting done. Every little complication adds delay. The NuVu machine runs very tightly, there is little room for error without causing congestion down the line. When one part of NuVu sneezes, sometimes literally, the whole school catches a cold.

 I can always feel the draft beneath me as I walk up the cold concrete flight of stairs corralling me to NuVu Innovation School. Glass panes framed by the metal handrails slightly tint what lies behind. Up and around the corner is the entrance, it’s neon pink cavern pulling me in.

For the students, NuVu is the most freeform school experience on the east coast. People climbing into the laser cutter, trying to clown-car as many people in it as possible. Shooting each other with staple guns trying to pop the balloons attached to their opponents (wearing safety glasses, of course).

For the administration of the 10-year-old education startup, however, NuVu is a fast-paced regimented workplace with very little room for error.

In 2010 NuVu was founded by 3 MIT graduates. Saba, a calculated decision maker, the rhyme and reason of NuVu; David, the first coach; and Saeed, the visionary.

“Between Saba, myself and Saeed, Saeed came up with the idea.” Late in the night - sitting in our respective desk chairs - I'm interviewing David Wang.

“ I certainly would say NuVu isn't in its infancy anymore.”

Early on, Saeed saw NuVu as his baby; but he enjoys watching it grow. Predominantly he likes facilitating the proliferation of creativity, through teaching its methods to the younger generation.

“It’s true that Saeed has a strong hand in how NuVu runs and he has a lot of opinions of how things should be done.”

Saeed has become more mellow over the years; He’s learned an understanding of what it is like to be a teen, how they view the world and take in information. Using all the information he’s amassed over his time running NuVu he, in parallel with Saba, has created a pedagogy of creativity.

In 2014 there was a dilemma; how does NuVu grow? At the time, two options were present:

  1. Grow mothership as it is now, a physical school
  2. Create a program to spread the NuVu philosophy

The outcome: NuVux. A program where a NuVu studio is setup in other schools around the world in order to bring creativity education to students, not the other way around.

Notwithstanding their progress Saeed and NuVu still have a long way to go

 I sat in on a NuVuX / Mothership meeting on Monday. Similar to the Mothership only meetings on Wednesday, all the communication was very rushed. The administrators would almost fight to ask Saeed questions, like a White House press briefing. A short discussion followed the scuffle. “I don’t know” is his catchphrase, he uses it as a cue to share more information.

When a decision is made the administrators quickly move onto the next topic, wasting as little time as possible. If a decision is not reached, the topic will be pushed to the next meeting. They repeated this over and over in an almost methodical way; It’s clear its been this way for a while.

Commonly seen wearing bright, flashy clothing, Jenny Kinard is the administrative equivalent of Lesley Knope. She is the conduit between the administration and the parents, students, and coaches.

Jenny has 4 recurring meetings every week; the staff meeting, the NuVu mothership meeting, the NuVu mothership/NuVuX meeting, and the coaches’ meeting. During the mothership meeting is her chance to ask permission from Saeed for all things NuVu.

Jenny takes various questions and complaints from lower down and packages them for Saeed. She includes as much information as possible so he can be satisfied with the conclusion. If there is a troublemaker student or a big purchase that needs to be dealt with this is where it happens.

Naturally, given only an hour to get through a whole week’s affairs, the meeting becomes competitive in nature. Because of Saeed's grip on NuVu’s brain, staff don't have much freedom to act autonomously.

Jenny feels as this is not always enough time to process and receive feedback on all of her responsibilities. Despite growing pains and hiccups, Jenny, just like the rest of NuVu Cambridge staff, remains determined and presses on. She is dedicated to the students, her co-workers and NuVu’s mission. And so, she filters in and out of studios to substitute for coaches during a season of runny noses to ensure the school continues to run as smooth as it can. 

Presentation and Article

Cleo Podrasky
1 / 5

The hero behind the scenes

Karen Sutton and her contributions to NuVu


By Cleo Podrasky

A woman sits on the edge of her seat, typing in ebbs and flows as she writes an email. She stares, thinking, and then bursts into a flurry of words. Her desk is fairly organized with notes about her plans for the day strewn on the right side of it, while pencil-holders and knickknacks are to the left. The incessant clicking of the keyboard continues as she gathers her thoughts and explains the programs offered by her workplace. She smiles faintly and sends the email, moving on to the next.

Karen Sutton, the Director of Operations at an experimental school in Cambridge, MA, tends to have a busy day. She either spends her time at her desk, writing miscellaneous emails to faculty, or she paces around, listening to people on the other side of the phone. NuVu Studio is a busy place, too, with students ranging from 8th to 12th grade working on their projects, racing in and out of the workshop with safety glasses still on their heads. However, few of these students truly know what she actually does, and realize her contribution to their education.

First off, she has to communicate with people outside of NuVu to make sure that the employees are getting paid and to discover whether or not the organization is adhering to the budget. This can take up most of her day, as these communications are coming in constantly. Because of this, she works within a certain policy; she consistently answers all of her incoming messages within 24 hours, even if she doesn’t have the answer. “Maybe it’s outdated or old-fashioned,” she says, “but I can’t stand a full inbox, especially when it’s in the double-digits.”

She also has to answer questions posed by companies who are helping NuVU expand their space. “I have quite a bit of responsibility with the financial aspect of this company, so I need to make sure that the invoices are being sent out, bills are being paid, and budgets are being adhered to,” she tells me in an interview. “I communicate all of this and work very, very closely with Saeed on that end. I don’t really share much information regarding finances with anybody else except for Saba, and to make sure that we are financially solvent is the biggest thing.” This tends to leave her fully in charge of communicating with companies about finance and services.

As she types one of these emails, she discovers questions piling up in her inbox. She purses her lips in thought and leans forward slightly. Oftentimes, she spends her whole day responding to contractors and employees, but that doesn’t stop her. “I love a challenge, and I love to take things on and do them well,” she says to me while working tirelessly on a letter. “I love my job, and the reason why I love this job is that, at my age, I got a second opportunity to really work hard, and learn, and sort of relive my thirties.”

As she’s about to begin another email, Saeed walks over to her desk and explains something about the plants. She glides over to the hallway full of Elephant Ear plants and other tropical greenery and clears the plants of insects and other critters that might harm them. While doing so, she explains to me her relationship with Saeed. “The only person who knows that I make a mistake is usually Saeed. l I stress out when I make a mistake. I hate, more than anything, when I make a mistake, and when I make a mistake, it’s like I just stabbed somebody. It’s just awful.”

In addition to taking care of plants (and her mistakes), she does many other things around NuVu. From staff to scheduling, to letting students in the front door, Karen oversees it all. “I make sure that all of the staff has what they need to do their job and feels supported by NuVu, and that falls into the category of HR,” she explains emphatically. “Benefits, insurance, making sure that they have information, that their questions are answered, so that in everything, from health to travel to expenses to day-to-day operations, people are informed.”

Originally, though, Karen didn’t have the same job here at NuVu. She started out as the Vice President of an educational travel company at age 25, which required a lot of effort and dedication to perform well. She had two kids soon afterward, though, and she made a decision to due to the complications of being a full-time mother. After floating around several easier, part-time jobs, she wanted to have more of a challenge. She joined the NuVu team, but for the first six months, few people, including Karen herself, thought that it was going to work out, as it was hard for her to adjust to. However, after those three months, “Things clicked, and I think I had personal growth; I understood dynamics much, much better.”

Now, Karen is sitting at her desk again, typing into her schedule. As usual, it is fairly packed, and yet she always seems to make room for more; after all, NuVu can be unpredictable, and many things change on a day-to-day basis. NuVu is busy, and because of this, Karen is too. However, she always makes an effort to look on the bright side, despite her worries about events; “There’s always a value in responding, and you never, ever know if your positive response will lead to some amazing opportunity to NuVu. You just never know- It’s better to be positive and professional because that generates good vibes everywhere.”

aligator man

Evan Johnston
1 / 3

Alligator man

The story of a man and his inflatable alligator

Dave had been with them his whole life. He had been born into the mafia. But he was seventeen when they got him really involved. He then discovered his love for crime, and business was good until the age of twenty-five when the government began their crackdown on a whole host of corruption scandals. He was tracked down and apprehended. He stayed there for two years before his daring escape.

I am pacing in my cell when I notice a small note on the wall.

"The back of your locker," it says. How did that get there? I guess I'll check, just to see what that's about. Not much better. I head over to the lockers and enter the code to open mine. Nothing. Weird. I look at the very back of the locker, still empty. Not sure what I expected. It's very small, not much of a "back" to it. Whoever sent the note wouldn't have my locker code anyway, not that that's going to stop anyone around here. Whatever, I need to get my jacket out anyway. Somehow my locker seems even smaller than normal... wait. And then I notice it: there is a small pull flap on the back. Ahhh, the back of my locker.

When I pull it I see the somewhat shiny folds of bright green plastic. It’s an inflatable alligator. I smuggle it back under my shirt.

It is 9:45 pm. "heading back for bed?” the guard asks as I walk past; I nod my head. As he locks the cell door, he does not notice the small shim I slide into the lock.

I open the door and close it again barely making a sound. (Something some students at an innovation school in Cambridge could use some help with). I'm not out yet. I still have to get over the fence and avoid detection. The alarm sounds. The gate has been left unlocked. I strip down so that when I land I will not be recognized by my prison jumpsuit.

The cold water numbs my back as I float away. Almost numb enough to mask the burn of the freezing water. I can hear the search party as they scan the island. They see the footprints leading down to the water. I can see the search boats heading north, towards the nearest land.

The most logical place for me to go. The first place that they would search. I am heading east. It’s a longer route, but also a boat free route. It takes hours to reach my destination, but when I get there I’m free. I just need to lay low for a little while and not draw unnecessary attention to myself.