Three Dallas Observer staff writers have been honored by the Texas State Teachers Association for excellence in education reporting, and a fourth writer has been named as a finalist for one of the most prestigious national awards given to young reporters.
Rose Farley, 28, who joined the Observer staff last August, is a finalist in The Livingston Awards for Young Journalists. The Mollie Parnis Livingston Foundation bestows three $10,000 prizes each year for outstanding work by reporters under the age of 35.
Farley has been named a finalist in the local newspaper reporting category for her story "Down on Sherman Street," which was published in November 1996. Farley's story chronicled the life and tragic death of Joe Lee Calloway, who was gunned down by a Grand Prairie police officer last year.
Most Dallas media treated the story as a standard formula tale of a mentally disturbed black man brandishing a knife who is shot by a policeman. But Farley delved into Calloway's past and reconstructed the day of his death, offering telling insights into the man and the senselessness of his killing.
The Livingston Award winners will be announced in June.
The state's largest teachers association, meanwhile, has chosen three Observer staff writers to be honored at its April 25 convention in Austin.
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Kaylois Henry, Thomas Korosec, and Miriam Rozen will each receive Texas School Bell Awards for "journalism excellence in the field of education reporting."
Henry, 29, is receiving an award for her story "Academy of dreams," published in April 1996. Henry was the only Dallas reporter to uncover the shady past of Yileeh Amani Sha, who arrived in Dallas in 1996 and began soliciting money from parents to fund a proposed private academy for minority children. Henry discovered that "Mr. Sha" was really Fred Hampton, who had fled other states after engaging in similar schemes. Hampton was later arrested for fraud.
Korosec, 40, is receiving an award for his story "Last in the class," published in October 1996. Korosec's story offered the first comprehensive examination of troubles plaguing the Wilmer-Hutchins school district, delving into years of petty politics and inept administration.
Rozen, 38, is receiving an award for her story "The learning curve," published in August 1996. Her story examined the shaky beginnings of a bold educational experiment at Washington Elementary School in Sherman--the only school in Texas then participating in The Edison Project. The project, founded by former Yale University President Benno Schmidt Jr., contracts to run public schools for a profit. The idea is being tested nationwide to see if private companies can improve educational results and make money. Rozen is the only Dallas reporter to have explored the project's efforts in North Texas.