Ann Marie Awad

Ann Marie Awad's journalistic career has seen her zigzag around the United States, finally landing on Colorado. Before she trekked to this neck of the woods, she was a reporter and Morning Edition host for WRKF in Baton Rouge, Louisiana's capitol. In a former life, she was a reporter in New York City. Originally, she's from Buffalo, so she'll be the judge of whether or not your chicken wings are up to snuff, thank you very much.

Outside the newsroom, Ann is a comic book nerd, coffee snob, fledgling outdoorswoman and adventurous eater.

Ann Marie Awad / KUNC

Erin Finnell stands up in front of the class and calls on a student.

“What are you doing this weekend, CJ?” Finnell asks.

“I’m just going with my boyfriend to the movies and we’re just going to movie hop,” CJ says. CJ talks a lot about her boyfriend in class, which isn't unusual for a high schooler. Except CJ isn’t a a typical student. She isn’t even real.

Ann Marie Awad / KUNC

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was a live wire for college students during primary season – especially in Colorado. Sanders won the state’s Democratic caucus in March. But the party’s candidate is Hillary Clinton. That’s what brought Jack Califano to the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Ann Marie Awad / KUNC

Colorado continues to see population growth, which is leaving many schools facing a problem: too many students, too little room. This year, the squeeze is pushing more local school districts to turn to voters for relief.

Seven districts along the Front Range have approved tax increase or bond sale resolutions for their local ballots. Nearly all the appeals identify maintenance, new buildings, improvements and security upgrades as pressing needs.

Ann Marie Awad / KUNC

University of Northern Colorado President Kay Norton gave her state of the university address on Wednesday, spending a great deal of time affirming UNC’s commitment to academic freedom. That’s because of the months of national backlash surrounding the school’s Bias Response Team. The team was created in 2014 to field complaints from students concerning offensive behavior.

She assured students, faculty and staff members that UNC is committed to preserving freedom of speech on campus - for faculty and students - all the while creating a campus where all can feel welcome.

Victor Björkund / Flickr - Creative Commons

Students along the Front Range showed lackluster performance on standardized tests, according to scores released by the Colorado Department of Education on Thursday. In many cases, fewer than half of students met or exceeded expectations in either math or English. Some districts had a bleaker picture of student performance, with sometimes less than a third of students hitting that benchmark.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Two Denver area school districts are in the national spotlight, but not for a good reason. The divide between the districts of Littleton and Sheridan has been held up as an example of one of the most segregating boundaries in the nation. But a report neglects to factor a few Colorado-specific quirks.

Courtesy of the National Parks Service

The Alpine Visitors Center is the busiest visitor’s center in all of Rocky Mountain National Park, where roughly 7,000 people come every day to take in the views. But it’s also a symbol of a park changing with growing demand - more people means more litter, more noise and fewer parking spaces. Visitors looking for the solitude of the great outdoors need to work even harder to find it in the park, and officials have few solutions.

Howard Fuller

Professor Howard Fuller is a civil rights activist and advocate for school choice as a means to better serve minority and underprivileged kids. He’s been vocal about the work charter schools still need to do to meet that goal, but says Colorado’s charters are a good example to follow.

Alberto G. / Flickr - Creative Commons

The Colorado Department of Education released the results of 2016 assessment tests Thursday morning, showing increased participation and modest strides. However, two years of data provides little in the way of trends in student achievement.

Denver Public Schools

While kids are getting ready to head back to class this month, administrators at Denver Public Schools are working on solutions to what some perceive to be a culture of racism in the system. A report commissioned by the district showed black teachers and administrators overwhelmingly felt the district had failed them, and had failed their black students as well. The report also found that low expectations for students of color threw up additional roadblocks to achievement.