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Archive for March, 2010

KIPP Charlotte

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

You all know I’m a huge fan of KIPP Charlotte, right?  It’s a public charter school that’s part of a network of 82 KIPP schools across the country.  The goal: to close the achievement gap that exists in our underserved communities, to send these students to college, and for the students to then change the world.  It’s no small feat but it’s the attitude, that this is totally do-able, that is revolutionary!

I’m a volunteer and board member of KIPP Charlotte.  And today we had our first big community fundraiser.  We only get 75% of our funding from state and federal aid; the rest we have to raise.  The money goes towards a higher salary for our teachers, because they teach from 7:30 until 5 and every other Saturday.  It funds field trips for our students to visit college campuses.  It pays for books and supplies.  And it helps to cover our infrastructure costs.

Today’s breakfast was a big deal.  We have a $600,000 fundraising goal needed just to finish the year.

This morning we heard from Mike Feinberg, co-founder of KIPP, a KIPP Gaston graduate who’s in college now, and Kahari, a current student of KIPP Charlotte.  They were all so inspiring.  But the big surprise came from Larry Polsky, from the Levine Foundation, when he announced the gift of $300,000.  That money is critical for our small school that has enormous dreams for our students.

I met Larry when he came to KIPP Charlotte for a recent site visit.  I’m such a fan of the school I must have talked his ear off that day.  I told him about many of the school’s attributes, including that at KIPP Charlotte, it’s cool to be smart.  To my surprise, during his speech about why the Levine Foundation was giving such a generous donation, he made, “it’s cool to be smart” his theme.

Friends, visit a KIPP school!  It’ll be a wise move on your part because, like me, the experience will forever change what you know to be possible in education.

The Move

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

In the middle of my sabbatical my agent called.  I crossed my fingers, hoping his voice would connect me to some great gig, in an awesome city, with some serious pay and perks.

As it turns out, one out of four isn’t all that bad, right, especially “in this economy” (which happen to be three words I now loathe).

Apparently, the NBC affiliate in Boston needed some maternity relief.  I used to work for the Fox affiliate in Boston.  The news director at the new station thought I’d be an easy person to just plug in and cover for three months.  My agent thought it would be a great way for me to stay current and it would give him a few more months to find me that “dream” gig.  For me, my concerns were endless.  Where would I stay?  What would hubby do?  What about my girl, Cricket?  What about my friends?  How will I maintain my volunteer commitments in Charlotte?  Parking?  Car? Packing?  Clothes?  Climate?

You know how this ends because as I’m writing this, I’m at Boston’s Logan Airport getting ready to fly back for two events in Charlotte I need  (and am so excited!!) to attend.

As with everything, things ended up falling into place.  I’m staying with two old friends (I’m calling them “My Two Dads”) and the only things missing from the Boston equation were a futon and clothes rack, both of which were rectified at IKEA.

kid party

Monday, March 29th, 2010

I love a good party!  Who doesn’t?  But when I got an invite to go to a kid’s birthday party, fear came over me.  As a childless adult, I’m a novice to the scene.

For more than a decade now, the word ‘party’ has meant some sweet food, cold beer, fine wine, hot tunes and an interesting mix of guests.  But a kid party instantly conjured up images of sticky hands, frenetic energy, and high-pitched squeals.

Just Out of College

What to do, what to do?!  My college girlfriend, Christina, invited me.  My other college friends would be there with their children.  I haven’t seen them in years.  I wanted to hang out, see their adorable offspring.  I wanted to be a trooper.  But the idea of being surrounded by 2 dozen children in varying ages between infant to 13, needed careful consideration.

I bought a gift, card, and gift bag.  I looked up directions on Google Maps.  And at the last minute, I hesitated.  Twitter to the rescue.

@susantran Getting ready to go to a ‘kid party.’ I’m a kid party novice. Is it ok to show up late and leave early?!

ReidBennett @susantran as long as you bring your own boxed wine you’ll be just fine.

(I didn’t!)

staceysimms @susantran hah! I think Miss Manners would frown on that.

(Really?! You can’t be fashionably late?)

mjsolender @susantran as long as you bring a cake and ooh and ahh

(Present – Check!  Cake – Love it!  Enthusiasm – Got it!)

It was very overwhelming to walk into a room full of screaming children.  I wore a stupefied look for a good 20 minutes.  I had to adjust to the scene the way our eyes have to recalibrate when we enter a room after a bright sunny day.

I was amazed as just how many activities were going on around me.  A jump castle, beanbag toss, cha-cha slide, balance beam, piñata, a rainbow parachute, balls, jump ropes, little stilts, cake, ice cream, balloons, face painting, presents … I got dizzy!  But I had fun though not as much as the kids.  Here’s my attempt at capturing their ENDLESS energy!

Fabulous Birthday

Friday, March 26th, 2010

There’s nothing like a Facebook birthday.  This is my second one I’ve had and I have to say, it’s pretty awesome (what’s not to like, you get dozens of birthday wishes)!

Hubby calls March, the birthday season.  Anything he does, buys or presents to me is part of the celebrations!  I love it!

This year my birthday started with my favorite mint chip ice cream cake made especially for me by my best friend, Carrie.

I’m a bit more sentimental this year because I’m away from my Charlotte home, family and friends.

Lucky for me, my friends here in Boston, especially Helen and Alfonso, made sure I didn’t spend the day alone!

Thanks for the love!

A News Christmas

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

In TV news, you (as a reporter/photographer team) have to accept that on most days, stars just don’t align.  Someone doesn’t, won’t or isn’t home to talk to you.  Police can’t give you information.  There will be technical glitches, operator errors, and machines that just refuse to work.  Producers will want you to fill more time, less time or need you to move to a new story when you’re 90% done with your current story.  You get my drift?

The thing is… for day 2 of my on-air work at 7News… Christmas came early.  My photographer Brian (we call them photogs but they shoot video… don’t ask… I have no idea why) and I went to a victim’s home.  She had crashed her car into a pool in East Bridgewater Tuesday.  Tuesday night another 7News crew tried to talk to that family and was told she was not speaking with the media.  Needless to say, Brian and I were not optimistic heading off to our story Wednesday morning.

We arrived, first, at the East Bridgewater Police Department to ask about the 911 calls.  To our surprise, they happily obliged and gave us a copy.  YEAH!  We then went to the victim’s home, she agreed to an interview.  YIPPEE!!  While we were there, her rescuers called her to say they wanted to stop in for a visit.  WOOOHOOO!!!  And we caught the reunion on video and interviewed the 3 women who saved the victim’s life.  Christmas came early.

But wait, there’s more.  I needed an “emergency window breaker” as a prop.  I went to the Sullivan Tire store in East Bridgewater to find out where I might locate an auto parts store, and instead of pointing me in the right direction, the nice gentleman just loaned me his.

There was one glitch.  Our live truck arrived a bit late so Brian was under an editing crunch.

But we made it.  We were live for the 4:00pm and 6:00pm newscasts. Here’s the story that ran at 4:00pm.


Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Second day on the job, first day on-air, and it was big fun (despite the rain).  I ran into my old Fox Boston friend Flip in the field and did live packages (voiced-over stories with sound bites) for the 4:00, 5:00, and 6:00pm newscasts.

Here’s the behind the scenes look.

Here’s the story that aired at 4:00pm. (I haven’t figured out how to embed the video onto my site – so for now you’ll have to click on the link!)

Side notes:

-The State Police held a press conference at 4:00pm and my station sent another crew.  I didn’t get the update until after my live shot.  Here’s the latest, State Police announced their investigation found there were only 7 total cases, 5 on Friday and 2 today.

-You’ll want to watch the clip just to see how the wind messed with my hair!!! HA!

First Day

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

My first day at WHDH-TV was full of paperwork to fill out and reunions with old Boston friends.  My assistant news director assures me tomorrow will be full of excitement as I’ll be reporting and it is set to rain!

I didn’t have a ton of time to collect video but here are a few pictures.  My roommate, Bob, took this one of me.  We entitled it “first day of work!”

Here’s a picture of the lobby and a shot during a newscast.  The newsroom is part of the set – so everyone always has to be conscientious of being “on TV.”

Here are a few pictures of the newsroom.

I Love Charlotte

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I’m currently in Boston working as a freelance reporter for the NBC affiliate, WHDH-TV.  Boston is one of my favorite cities.  I went to college at Boston University.  I also worked as a reporter at the Fox affiliate, WFXT-TV, before I moved to Charlotte.  My recent return feels a bit like a homecoming.

Everyone here wants to know what I think about Charlotte and I answer honestly, I love Charlotte.  I love the weather, the people, the big city offerings in a manageable smaller city and of course my friends.

Right before I moved here to Boston, I spent a gorgeous ‘Chamber of Commerce’ day Uptown.  I walked around and captured some snippets I wanted to remember about Charlotte during my time away.  I thought you’d enjoy it as well.

Follow Friday Friend WXBrad

Friday, March 19th, 2010

When we first moved to Charlotte in September of 2006, the first thing I noticed was the weather.  Each day felt more spectacular than the last.  Fall was gorgeous, winter was mild, and spring was perfect.  Then summer hit and it was humidity like I’ve never seen and ridiculously fierce thunderstorms.  The craziest thing was how quickly it all hit and changed.  I instantly knew, this would be a meteorologist’s dream!

Maybe that’s why I find Twitterer and WCNC Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich so interesting.  I follow him (@WXBrad) on Twitter and I’ve seen his tweets at all hours of the night.  Sometimes when I catch him on the news, I’ll see a tweet during a commercial break.  Many of my friends send him tweets requesting very specific forecasts and he often responds with alacrity!  (Please note: I worked at WSOC and I have mad love for Steve Udelson, John Ahrens, and Keith Monday.  They jointly utilize @WSOCWeather.)

When I sat down with @WXBrad, it became clear this new father, Cleveland native, and rabid Buckeyes fan, had found the perfect medium in Twitter to share his passion: the weather.  In 140 characters he can easily give you a forecast.  And he loves the social aspect, the give and take.  He can pinpoint weather for your picnic, golf game, or afternoon run.  And when there is severe weather, he receives Twitter updates from weather watchers and pictures.   He sees it as a win-win!

Spray Tan

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

UPDATE: BEFORE and AFTER pictures below!!!

I don’t even know if I want to share this… but here it goes.  I got a spray tan! 

Here’s the thing… I love being tan.  I grew up in Los Angeles.  When my friends Carrie and Becky started driving, our first trips were to the beach.  We all used to meet at Huntington Beach, lifeguard station 17.  The things we did to get a tan, now that I think about them, were absurd!   They included: staying at the beach for about 5-6 hours using only baby oil, baby oil with iodine (I don’t know the rational, I was young and stupid), Hawaiian Tropic SPF 0, and nothing at all.  Crazy right? 

In Boston, we had beautiful beaches like Singing, Crane, Nauset, Surfside, and West Dennis.  They were a bit far, a full day trip.  So when I only had a couple hours, I headed to Revere or Wollaston

Then in Charlotte, we first lived at the apartments at Phillips Place.  The pool there was open year round.  When the thermometer went above 70, I’d lounge in shorts and a t-shirt.  At 75, I’d be in a bathing suit.  By this time, at least I was using sunscreen.

Now to the present; we live in a condo complex with no pool.  For the past two years, I’ve crashed my friends’ pools (thank you Tim, Ben, Heather, Brian, Katie and Mike).  But this winter has been brutal.  No January or February ‘sunning’ days.  And I’m starting to freak-out more about looking leathery.  So when a friend recently told me she got a spray tan and the results were inconspicuous, I though, perfect.  I tried it.

Poor Paola, the hot girl at Palm Beach Tan, had to counsel me for a good half-hour before I felt comfortable enough to do it.  Fortunately, my tweet asking for advice resulted with me, at least, arriving fully exfoliated.

It was a weird experience.  You go into the booth wearing only a hairnet and this ‘air brush thing’ sprays you from top to bottom.  It was cold!  It was quick!  But the results, pretty darn good.  Good enough that I’d do it again.  I’ll have to, it only last for about a week.  I look tan and I didn’t have to freak out about wrinkles.

(Before and after spray tan.  The kids… they’re good props.  I’m kidding!)