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NCPR News Staff: Sarah Harris

Reporter and Producer

Sarah Harris was a sophomore in college when the radio bug bit. She spent the year producing audio narratives of students' journeys to Middlebury (where she went to school) through the Middlebury Fellowship in Narrative Journalism. A long-time public radio listener, Sarah thought she might've found her niche. She spent the money she earned from the fellowship on equipment and promptly headed abroad to the Maldives and Nepal, where she did a ton of interviews and spent a month at Community Radio Madanpokhara, South Asia's first rural-based community radio station.

Upon returning to the United States, Sarah decided she needed to learn how to do radio for real. So she called NCPR on a Friday afternoon and proceeded to pester station manager Ellen Rocco until she agreed to give Sarah an internship. Sarah spent the following summer interning at the station and living on Ellen's DeKalb farm. She's been producing stories for NCPR ever since -- first covering the Champlain Valley in Vermont and New York, and now covering St. Lawrence County. 

Sarah's work has aired on Morning Edition and All Things Considered and has been published in The American Prospect and Slate. She reported on cement production in Chanute, Kansas through the Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism and contributed to the award-winning NPR/Center for Public Integrity collaborative series "Poisoned Places." Sarah assistant taught the first session of the Transom Story Workshop in fall 2011. She lives with her partner Joe, a cat named Louie, and soon, two llamas. E-mail

Stories filed by Sarah Harris

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Saved. The task force sold T-shirts to lead the effort to save jobs and services at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdenbsurg. Photo: David Sommerstein
Saved. The task force sold T-shirts to lead the effort to save jobs and services at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdenbsurg. Photo: David Sommerstein

St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center will become "center of excellence"

Big news for Ogdensburg, and the North Country's network of mental health services. The St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center will not close as planned earlier this year by the state Office of Mental Health.
Key services will be retained, as will hundreds of jobs.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered the news yesterday in a video conference. He said the old psychiatric hospital's focus will shift as it becomes a regional Center of Excellence.
Under the new plan, there will be a small reduction in the number of inpatient beds. But new programs will be added.  Go to full article
The finished product. Photo: Sarah Harris
The finished product. Photo: Sarah Harris

Inside school: making gingerbread houses

Canton first graders are having fun before the holidays making gingerbread houses. There's a trick: they use a milk carton for the base and plaster it with graham crackers, frosting, and candy. It's a classic holiday activity.  Go to full article
CenterState CEO presented their economic development plan at Clarkson last month. Photo: Sarah Harris
CenterState CEO presented their economic development plan at Clarkson last month. Photo: Sarah Harris

Is this really a biz plan for the North Country?

Last month Centerstate CEO, a Syracuse-based economic development group, released a plan for a region they call central New York. It stretches from the Finger Lakes to Massena and includes Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. It doesn't include the Adirondacks or the Champlain Valley.

The plan was prepared by the Brookings Institution and identifies ways in the region can compete on a global scale. But some critics argue that the plan doesn't represent the western half of what we call the North Country.  Go to full article
Common Core isn't working for everyone, including (according to her parents) six- year-old Maddie. Photo: courtesy of Jennifer Hansen
Common Core isn't working for everyone, including (according to her parents) six- year-old Maddie. Photo: courtesy of Jennifer Hansen

Common Core: looking for alternatives

Common Core is making its way into classrooms across New York state. The new standards and curriculum emphasize conceptual learning and critical thinking. But that approach doesn't work for all students.  Go to full article
5th grade math. Photo: Sarah Harris
5th grade math. Photo: Sarah Harris

Inside school: navigating Common Core

Common Core has become a lightning rod for dissatisfaction with educational policy. New York's Education Commissioner John King has been shouted down at public forums accompanying the roll out of the new federal standards in state schools this fall.

For teachers, Common Core isn't just a talking point. They have to find place for the new standards and recommended curriculum in their classrooms.
At Canton Central School, teachers are trying to figure out what Common Core means for them and their students.  Go to full article
Finding and repairing the leak. Photo: Sarah Harris.
Finding and repairing the leak. Photo: Sarah Harris.

Canton gas leak causes delays, evacuations

A gas leak was discovered on Route 11 and Pleasant Street in Canton around 4:20 in the afternoon yesterday.  Go to full article
NYSUT graph showing per-pupil spending ranges in New York State. Image: NYSUT press release
NYSUT graph showing per-pupil spending ranges in New York State. Image: NYSUT press release

Teachers' union says no to tax cap

The New York State United Teachers union released an analysis earlier this week that says the state's wealthiest school districts spent almost 80 percent more per pupil than the poorest ones.  Go to full article
F-35A fighters. Photo: USAF
F-35A fighters. Photo: USAF

Air Force: F-35 will come to Burlington

The F-35, the Air Force's new, expensive fighter jet, has a new home: Burlington, Vermont. In 2020, 18 planes will come to the Vermont Air National Guard base at the Burlington Airport and replace the existing F-16s.

The debate over whether to bring the F-35 to town has divided people in Chittenden County for years. Opponents say noise levels from the plane will adversely affect people who live near the airport, including children and minority populations. Supporters say the plan will keep the Air Guard in the area, provide jobs and spur economic growth.  Go to full article
The globe, made by craftsmen at Jeffords Steel in Potsdam. Photo: Sarah Harris
The globe, made by craftsmen at Jeffords Steel in Potsdam. Photo: Sarah Harris

Listen: front yard sculpture garden

Piece by piece, Greg Caron has transformed his Winthrop front yard into a park.

The wide, sprawling lawn is dotted with picnic tables, a big steel globe, a polar bear, the Virgin Mary, a soldier's monument, and more.

Caron says he welcomes visitors.  Go to full article
A zentangle. Photo: Sarah Harris.
A zentangle. Photo: Sarah Harris.

Inside school: Canton educators make do with less

On the surface, Canton Central School is really vibrant: happy kids talking in the hallway and laughing at lunch, teachers engaged in their work. But the school is also deep in a financial crisis. Administrators aren't sure how they'll keep providing a quality education for kids when funds are running dry. All this year, NCPR will report on how the school serves its two masters: the state and its students.  Go to full article

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