Jennifer Guerra

Reporter/Producer

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project, which looks at kids from low-income families and what it takes to get them ahead. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.

Her stories and documentaries have won numerous regional and national awards, and her work has aired on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace and Studio 360.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Michigan and received her M.A. in broadcast journalism from Fordham University. When she's not on the radio, she and her husband are making up lyrics to songs and singing them to their adorable baby girl.  

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Education
9:00 am
Fri January 13, 2012

U of M group aims to improve teacher training nationwide

TeachingWorks, a national organization based at U of M, aims to develop a nationwide system for all teaching programs, so that teachers are prepared the minute they walk into the classroom.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

There’s currently no set standard for how to train K through 12 teachers. Every program in the country has a different curriculum. As a result, the level of teaching skill varies widely.

A new nationwide organization based at the University of Michigan aims to change that.

The goal of Teaching Works is to develop a nationwide system for all teaching programs, so that teachers are prepared the minute they walk into the classroom.

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Arts/Culture
12:05 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Artpod: Work, reimagined

user ronnieb morgueFile

Today's Artpod is all about work...or rather, re-imagining what work can be.

Many people view Michigan as ground zero when it comes to job loss and unemployment. Yet despite the tough economy, some people are quitting their jobs in an effort to pursue their creative passions, which are often unpaid.

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Politics
4:52 pm
Wed January 11, 2012

3 Michigan ministers say U.S. hate crimes act is unconstitutional

user mconnors morgueFile

The head of the American Family Association of Michigan is appealing a court ruling that upheld a federal hate crime law.

The law, called the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, was expanded in 2009 to protect people victimized because of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

Gary Glenn claims the law is unconstitutional because of the threat it poses to free speech:

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Arts/Culture
1:23 pm
Mon January 9, 2012

ArtServe Michigan to serve up fresh, local art

ArtServe Michigan to launch a CSA share...for art.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

An arts advocacy group is stealing an investment idea from the agriculture world in an effort to get more folks to buy local art.

A statewide arts advocacy group wants to serve up some fresh, local art. To do so, the group is copying an investment model popular in the agricultural world.

Lots of farms in Michigan participate in Community Supported Agriculture. Folks can buy a CSA share in a farm. In return, the shareholder gets a weekly crate of fresh farm produce.

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Arts/Culture
10:21 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Reimagining what work can be

Many people view Michigan as ground zero when it comes to job loss and unemployment. Yet despite the tough economy, some people are quitting their jobs in an effort to pursue their creative passions, which are often unpaid. 

From fast food to felt toys

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Arts/Culture
9:48 pm
Wed January 4, 2012

Artpod: Aretha Franklin is looking for next big opera star

Photo courtesy of Aretha Franklin

We kick of the first Artpod of 2012 with an appearance by none other than the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

I interviewed Franklin last month about her search for the next great opera star. That's right, opera star. Franklin wants to get in on the singing contest circuit, and she's turning her searchlight on the world of classical music.

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Education
2:33 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Forget banning words, Wayne State lists 10 words it wants to revive

The word "truckle" is on Wayne State University's 2012 Top 10 list of words to revive.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Lake Superior State University a few days ago issued its annual list of Banished Words and phrases for 2011.

Now Wayne State University has issued its own top 10 list of "remarkably useful and expressive words that deserve more chances to enrich our language."

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Environment
9:00 am
Thu December 22, 2011

Christmas tree debate: real or fake?

Lauren and her potted tree. It will stay outdoors until Christmas Eve, when it will be brought in for 14 hours.
Photo by Jennifer Guerra

There’s a long-running debate about which kind of Christmas tree is greener: real or artificial.  We wanted to try to settle that debate... or at least add to the discussion:

Lauren Northrop and her husband Tom are big fans of Christmas.

“We love celebrating it, I love decorating, but we always have this dilemma: what do we do about a tree?”

They didn’t want a plastic tree because it’s, well, plastic. And they didn’t like the idea of bringing a live tree into their house, only to have it die and then drag it out to the curb to be recycled.

So they skipped the Christmas tree thing altogether for the last four years. But then, their son was born.

They bought a live, baby Christmas tree with its roots still intact. That way, when Christmas is done and the ground thaws, they can plant it in their backyard.

“I was planning to keep the tree inside until December 25th so that we could decorate it and put lights on it. When we went to buy it they said if you do that, it probably won’t survive.”

That’s probably way too much hassle for most people.

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Arts/Culture
3:12 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Artpod: Made in Michigan

user anon morgueFile

For all your late holiday shoppers out there, today's Artpod is filled with ideas for giving local.

I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook to hear your thoughts on Michigan-made gifts you'd like to give (or receive) this year. I also reached out to the owner of an independent bookstore in Grand Rapids, and the owner of an independent music store in Ann Arbor to get their suggestions, too.

So without further ado, here's what you had to say about giving local:

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Education
5:10 pm
Mon December 19, 2011

Cooley Law School to open immigrant rights clinic in Ann Arbor

user mconnors morgueFile

Low-income immigrants in the Washtenaw County area will soon be able to get free legal help from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School’s Ann Arbor campus.

Jason Eyster, an associate professor at Cooley Law School, will run the new immigrant rights clinic. He says they’ll be able to take up to six immigration cases at a time, dealing with a variety of issues:

"In the immigration area: individuals are seeking asylum, seeking withholding of removal,  seeking cancelation of removal, or seeking clarity on what their rights may or may not be," said Eyster.

Eyster says they’ll also help immigrants with other issues, like "foreclosure, landlord-tenant, custody issues, and that sort of thing."

The clinic doesn't open until next month, but Eyster says they're already booked.

Education
8:43 am
Mon December 19, 2011

Group at work to create "evaluation tool" for Michigan teachers

user kconnors morgueFile

Discussions are underway to figure out how best to evaluate Michigan’s teachers.

Governor Snyder has tasked a group of five people to develop a so-called “teacher evaluation” tool as part of the state’s new teacher tenure law. The law contains a lot about teacher evaluation, but doesn’t detail what the evaluation would look like.

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Arts/Culture
12:07 pm
Fri December 16, 2011

With Borders gone, holiday sales up at many indie bookstores

Inside Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor
Photo courtesy of Nicola's Books

Holiday sales appear to be up at most independent bookstores in Michigan, thanks in part to the fact that one of their major competitors is no longer around.

Borders, the now defunct big bookstore chain, was often accused of killing the independent bookstore. But those indie bookstores that remain are now reaping the benefits of Borders demise.

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Arts/Culture
9:33 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Arab-American groups reject donations from Lowe's

Photo from "All-American Muslim" courtesy of TLC

A network of Arab-American nonprofits say they will no longer accept donations from Lowe's.

The home improvement chain has gotten tons of media attention since it pulled its ads from TLC's All-American Muslim, saying the show was a "lightning rod" for controversy. The retailer was also the recipient of the conservative Florida Family Association's campaign to get the ads pulled.

Now 22 Arab-American nonprofits have refused to accept any future donations from Lowe's.

Hassan Jaber is with ACCESS, a nonprofit based in Dearborn. He says for the past five years the Lowe's in Allen Park donated shovels, paint, tools, and all other kinds of supplies to ACCESS. The items went to support the nonprofit's home renovation program in some of Detroit’s poorest neighborhoods.

"Together we gave hope to the community," says Jaber. But he goes on to say that the decision by Lowe's at the corporate level is "a complete contradiction of their local mission here."

Jaber says they will no longer accept those supplies. He adds they considered the Lowe's in Allen Park a "friend and partner," but he says ACCESS "made it clear that we stand by our principal."

Arts/Culture
12:15 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Artpod: Detroit arts group inspires students to succeed

After just one year in Mosaic, nearly all of the students say they plan to go to college.
Ian Tadashi Moore Mosaic

Artpod is back!

In today's podcast, we look at how an arts group is encouraging lower-income kids to go on to college, with measurable results. It's called Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit, which one student describes as a place filled with "pops of rainbow colors."

Here's an excerpt:

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Education
3:23 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Bill to allow more charter schools in Michigan stalls in Republican-led House

user jdurham morgueFile

Michigan’s Republican-led Senate has passed a measure that removes the 150-school cap on university-sponsored charters. The bill is now stalled in the House.

The way the current cap works: If a charter is considered "high performing," it is re-labeled a School of Excellence, and removed from the cap, which leaves a vacancy for a new university-sponsored charter school to fill.

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Arts/Culture
2:51 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Ann Arbor library considers getting into the bike business

user kconnors morgueFile

You may one day be able to check out bicycles for free at the Ann Arbor District Library.

The library is considering teaming up with Common Cycle, a non-profit bike club, in an effort to provide free bike rentals to library patrons.

Eric Jankowski is with Common Cycle. He says details are still being worked out, including what the late fees will be, and for how long a library patron can check out a bike. As for how many bikes they’ll need?

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Education
11:37 am
Mon December 12, 2011

Schools can get $500 "bus grants" for arts and culture field trips

The MCACA is now offering Arts & Culture Trek grants to schools.
Photo by coopah morgueFile

Teachers across the state can now apply for grants to help cover transportation costs for field trips.

The Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs is providing schools with Arts & Culture Trek grants worth $500 to help cover transportation costs.

Stacey Lind is with the Michigan Youth Arts, the group that’ll be distributing the grants. She said there's an approved list of all organizations on their website, which includes "museums, orchestras, performing arts centers, dance organizations, [and] the Detroit Zoo."

Lind said extracurricular activities like field trips are often the first things to go when a school is trying to cut costs:

"Some students never go to the symphony; some students never get to see a live dance performance," said Lind. "These transportation grants provide an opportunity for those students to actually be able to see and experience things  they might never be exposed to in school."

About 100 grants are available, though Lind says more could be on the way.  Each school can qualify for one$500 grant.

Applications are available now through January 16 for field trips between March and May of 2012.

Arts/Culture
12:29 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Attn young, classical singers: Aretha Franklin wants to hear from you

As we reported earlier this week, Aretha Franklin is searching for the next great opera singer. If you're 18-40 years old and classically trained, the Queen of Soul wants to hear from you:

"Some of the older classical singers like Jessye Norman, and Leontyne [Price], Barbara Hendricks...they are retiring, they’re not singing anymore, and I’d like to see some younger singers come along and take their place," explains Franklin.

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Politics
5:33 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Mitt Romney picks Kid Rock's "Born Free" as campaign theme song

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney went back to his Michigan roots to choose a campaign theme song.

“Born Free” by Michigan native Kid Rock has been chosen as Romney's official campaign theme. A Romney staffer confirmed the music selection with Michigan Radio this afternoon.

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Arts/Culture
4:55 pm
Mon December 5, 2011

Aretha Franklin wants to find the next great opera star

User bazylek100 Flickr

Calling all opera singers: Aretha Franklin wants to hear from you.

The Queen of Soul says she wants to find the next Jessye Norman or Barbara Hendricks:

"Some of the older classical singers have retired and they’re not singing anymore, and I’d like to see some younger singers come along and take their place."

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