I write with some bittersweet news. This week is my last at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. I start next Monday as a communications specialist with Hanover County Public Schools.
This will be an abbreviated version of the newsletter, with this space dedicated to some thoughts of mine, Kenya Hunter with a brief making the rounds and the because you made it this far section that, according to poll results, is a crowd favorite.
I came to Richmond in the summer of 2016 with no connections to this city, only a motivation to do good work in my first real newspaper internship. It didn't take long for me to fall in love with this place, the newspaper and its insanely talented staff, and the city, with its good food, hiking trails and heat.
Over the course of those 10 weeks, I covered a lot of things. Feral cats getting neutered. A special tribute for a D-Day veteran. Tim Kaine's return to Richmond after being announced as the Democratic vice presidential nominee.
If you opened that last story, you'll see that it was co-bylined with Louis Llovio. Louis was the first real education reporter I ever met. I was so fascinated by his job. The local newspaper in the small northern New York community where I grew up didn't have a dedicated Indian River Central School District reporter. Most of you know this, but I'd go to local school board meetings for fun when I was in school and served as the token student representative on school board committees. This son of two teachers loved education policy.
So when the RTD offered to have me come back in 2017 after graduating from college and cover education, it seemed like a perfect fit. I readily accepted and truly cherished the next two and a half years. I got to know teachers, administrators, parents and students. My love for school board meetings waned a little bit (looking at you, Richmond School Board) but there was no greater feeling than writing a story that informed the Richmond community about what was happening in our schools.
As you know, I've spent this year on our state government team, covering the historic General Assembly session, the pandemic, reckoning on race, and just about everything in between, including state education stories. It's been incredibly fulfilling.
You've likely seen me say in this newsletter before that I believe in doing the next right thing (shouts to Emily P. Freeman). Well, this is the next right thing for me to do. Personally, I'm preparing for marriage and fatherhood and refuse to let myself be burnt out by the time the two most important assignments of my life begin. Professionally, I can't wait to follow in the footsteps of my parents and work for a public school system while being given the privilege of informing parents, educators and other stakeholders.
No, this was not an easy decision. Yes, I'm sure there will be times when I miss journalism. But this opportunity was simply too good to pass up.
This newsletter has been one of the highlights of my three years at the RTD. It started as an idea in the summer of 2018, launched in Februrary 2019 (on the Monday after the weekend when Virginia politics went wild) and eclipsed 5,000 subscribers last month. Thank you for subscribing and for trusting me to deliver you the news you need to know on Virginia education. It's been an honor.
Before I sign off, I wanted to share a few, non-taco stories I've written here that I look back on fondly. Thank you for reading and for everything.
From September 2017: For Richmond student, Trump's DACA decision could mean deportation.
From May 2018: She graduated from Collegiate on Friday. She died on Saturday.
- From March 2019: 'The land that time forgot': Charles City struggles to keep pace with neighbors
- From April 2019: To honor dying mother, a Powhatan student graduated in her hospital room
- From April 2019: How Richmond's Rodney Robinson became a finalist for National Teacher of the Year
- Bonus, from August 2019: Dallas Dance's 2nd act: How a rising education star reconciles with jail and his mother's death
- Double Bonus, from March 2018: A Richmond student's poem on gun violence
You can reach me at email@example.com through Thursday. After that, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-778-6925. Please stay in touch. Go team, as they say.
(ABOVE PHOTO BY MARK GORMUS/TIMES-DISPATCH: Andrea Dungee with her son Caeden in their work space inside their Chesterfield County home Fri. July 31, 2020.)