Reporter Tracey McManus recognized for education coverage

The Yellow Jacket Chorus of Wheeless Road Elementary School sang Tuesday night.

They sang for the school board of Richmond County at its monthly meeting.

Their small voices only filling the room when they met in the refrain: Education is my brain power. Graduation is my shining hour.

Board President Venus Cain introduced the pupils and said she had heard them perform at a previous event. She had invited them so the board could hear their song, potentially an anthem for the system.

It was a song I had never heard before but wouldn’t mind hearing again. The chorus has been stuck in my head all week:

Education is my brain power. Graduation is my shining hour.

Reporter Tracey McManus covers education for us. And this includes going to every school board meeting – although she doesn’t always write a story from each one.

Her presence holds officials accountable and she gathers tips and information to develop into better stories about the school system.

She was walking to her seat Tuesday as the chorus finished and Cain moved on to the next business: special recognition.

Much to Tracey’s surprise, she was called to the front of the class by the board president. Tracey was surprised a second time that her editor was in attendance.

Cain said she and the board wanted to recognize Tracey for the quality and fairness of her reporting on the school system, and that Tracey had been nominated for a statewide award for education reporting.

The superintendent, Dr. Frank Roberson, stepped to the microphone and read a letter from Matt Cardoza, the communications director for the state Department of Education.

“I have worked with many good reporters, but few stand out like Tracey McManus,” Roberson read. “Tracey is a pleasure to work with and produces quality pieces that are fair, balanced and well-written.

“Not all reporters covering education understand the complexity of the subject and translate that into a story the public understands, but Tracey always does.”

The communication director’s praise was exceeded only by Roberson’s ad-libbed remarks.

He interspersed the reading with his praise about Tracey’s thoroughness and investigative reporting skills.

The third surprise came when they handed her a plaque for her fair and outstanding reporting.

Cain asked Tracey to say a few words. She thanked the board members and Roberson and the cabinet and the teachers and principals of your school system.

Not just for honoring her, but for their responsiveness to her questions and the help they give her every day in reporting on the important subject of education.

Which is, after all, the brain power.

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