Jess Clark

Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting

Jess is WUNC's Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting. Her reporting focuses on how decisions made at the North Carolina General Assembly affect the state's students, families, teachers and communities.

Jess graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015 with her master's in Journalism and Mass Communication. As a graduate student she was lead writer and managing editor for WholeHogNC.org, a special multimedia report on North Carolina’s hog industry from UNC’s award-winning series, "Powering A Nation."  Her broadcast experience comes from working as a reporter and producer for Carolina Connection, a student-produced radio newscast from UNC's School of Journalism and Media, where her work received multiple national awards. She has also interned with the production team for WUNC's "The State of Things" and reported for WCHL on local schools and state policy, among other issues.

When she's not reporting, Jess is singing second soprano in the Choral Society of Durham, searching for taco trucks or dreaming of her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

Ways to Connect

Sarah Gilbert via Flickr

Researchers at the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute have more evidence that children who attend pre-K see better outcomes down the road.

An image of UNC's Old Well
yeungb / Wikipedia Creative Commons

The NCAA has issued a new set of allegations against the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill over the years-long academic fraud scandal.

HB2 opponents
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

North Carolina lawmakers on Wednesday failed to repeal the so-called “bathroom bill” after hours of bitter political debate at the General Assembly in Raleigh.

WUNCPolitics Podcast
WUNC

This week the General Assembly passed legislation to strip powers from the executive branch. Democratic lawmakers, and hundreds of angry protesters, said this was simply a power grab as a Republican governor is about to be replaced by a Democrat.

WUNC reporters Jeff Tiberii and Jess Clark spent many hours on Jones Street this week covering all the action. They got together in this week's WUNCPolitics Podcast to recap a wild week.

Protesters Jenny Lynch of Apex, left, and Heidi Alcock of Chapel Hill.
Jess Clark / WUNC

The General Assembly building on Jones Street in downtown Raleigh literally shook Friday as protesters reached a boiling point over bills Republican lawmakers had pushed through during a surprise special session.

Despite the protests, lawmakers concluded the session Friday afternoon, passing two bills that curb the powers of incoming Democratic governor Roy Cooper.

Protests erupted Thursday at the N.C. General Assembly
Jess Clark / WUNC

Hundreds of protesters swamped the top floor of the General Assembly and interrupted House lawmakers during a special session Wednesday night. They were there to protest the surprise fourth special session called so late in the year by Republicans, as well as legislation that seeks to weaken incoming Democratic governor Roy Cooper.

North Carolina legislative building
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State lawmakers will convene for yet another special session Wednesday afternoon. The fourth extra legislative gathering of 2016 follows a two-day effort to pass the Disaster Relief Act, a $201 million dollar funding bill to help victims of hurricane flooding and mountain wildfires.

protesters inside the General Assembly
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

UPDATED Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 7:05 p.m. The state House voted unanimously Tuesday night to pass their version of a disaster relief measure. The bill goes onto the Senate for further debate Wednesday.

stack of money
Flickr user 401(K)2013

North Carolina's economy will grow another two percent next year - on par with growth in 2016, according to a UNC Charlotte economic forecast.

President-elect Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally in Fayetteville, N.C., Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.
Gerry Broome / AP

President-elect Donald Trump made a stop in Fayetteville Tuesday night as part of his "thank you" tour. Trump spoke before a crowd of several thousand near Fort Bragg.

Pat McCrory
Catie Ball / WUNC

It took 28 days.

Following weeks of unfounded voter fraud allegations, conspiracy theories that the legislature could intervene in the outcome, and expectations that this race would end up in the courts, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory stood down.

multiple choice test
Alberto G. / Flickr Creative Commons

The ACT will soon offer special accommodations for students still learning the English language.

classroom
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Nineteen of the state's lowest-performing schools are getting nearly $40 million in federal grants starting in January to improve student outcomes. Each school will receive between $690,000 and $3.7 million to put towards improvement plans over the next five years.

Wake County bus driver Auh-murel Wright has worked for the school district 10 years, and sill makes less than a "living wage."
Jess Clark / WUNC

In the parking lot at East Cary Middle School, bus driver Auh-murel Wright walks down the aisle of her bus between rows of empty seats, checking the alarms and the emergency exits. She does this before each trip to make sure her ride is safe. And she knows the exact minute she can expect the first students to climb aboard—2:13 p.m.

Latino residents in Greenville
Jess Clark / WUNC

Reports of racially-motivated harassment continue to pour in across the country after Donald Trump's election as president. One community in North Carolina just held an emergency meeting to try to find solutions to address the harassment Latinos are experiencing there.

Wake County School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

State Lawmakers' 2013 finagling with the Wake County election maps made it possible for high turnover on the largely Democratic school board this election. Voters weighed in on all nine school board offices. But six out of seven running incumbents kept their seats on Tuesday. Three ran unopposed, and three others won handily against their challengers.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. greets supporters as he gives his acceptance speech after winning re-election, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Nell Redmond / AP

Richard Burr, the incumbent candidate for North Carolina's seat on the U.S. Senate, secured a win against challenger Democrat Deborah Ross. Burr won 51 percent of the vote to Ross's 45 percent.

Millbrook history teacher Brian Schneiderwind had his AP U.S. History class go classroom to classroom to get their peer preregistered.
Jess Clark / WUNC

About 9 percent of the state's teachers left North Carolina's public schools in the 2015-2016 school year, according to a draft report from the Department of Public Instruction. Teachers with less than three years of experience were more likely to leave the classroom than their more seasoned counterparts.

A study shows potentially dangerous levels of Chromium-6 in wells across the state.
Kelly Stemcosky / Flickr Creative Commons

Researchers at Duke University have found widespread contamination of North Carolina well-water with hexavalent chromium. Researchers initially believed the cancer-causing toxin was coming from coal ash ponds. But Duke professor Avner Vengosh said his new study shows the dangerous compound is naturally occurring across the state.

Volunteers for North Carolina's Candid Critters can set up motion-sensing cameras to capture photos of wildlife on their property or on public land.
North Carolina's Candid Critters / North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

North Carolina scientists are asking everyday citizens to help them collect data on state wildlife. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences along with North Carolina State University and the State Wildlife Resources Commission are lending out motion-sensing cameras that citizens can set up in their backyards or state parks to capture photos of unsuspecting animals.

Jess Clark / WUNC

Early voting is off to a fast start in many North Carolina counties. As of Sunday, 408,906 voters had cast a ballot in North Carolina, according to the State Board of Elections.

Robeson Schools Superintendent Tommy Lowry surveys the damage outside the textbook and supply warehouse at the district's central services.
Jess Clark / WUNC

Outside Robeson County Schools central offices, Superintendent Tommy Lowry points to a large hole in the top of the chain-link fence. "Where that fence is cut there, that’s where I came across in a boat. That’s how high the water was," he said.

Faith leaders, police and town staff lay hands on one another and Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas to pray for strength against the slow-moving catastrophe headed toward them.
Jess Clark / WUNC

The Tar River cuts right through the city of Greenville, but it doesn’t usually cut through Steve Johnson’s backyard.

“I wasn’t prepared for flooding. You know, I don’t think anyone ever is,” said Johnson. “I was prepared for the hurricane. I was even prepared to leave if something happened during the hurricane...I wasn’t prepared for flooding, you just never know how that’s gonna turn.

a flooded road after Hurricane Matthew
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

Emergency officials in North Carolina say at least 20 people have died because of Hurricane Matthew.

In a press conference Wednesday morning, Governor Pat McCrory urged drivers to continue following marked detours, as two major interstates and many smaller roadways remain flooded as rivers continue to rise.

Contentnea Creek
Jay Price / WUNC

Updated 3:15 p.m. October 17, 2016

Governor Pat McCrory was in New Bern this afternoon to survey damage from the floods left behind by Hurricane Matthew. 

The state Department of Transportation says many roads are still closed in eastern North Carolina, but I-95 has reopened from Fayetteville to Lumberton.  At least 25 people have died in North Carolina. Most were trapped in the vehicles in the flooding.

Officials estimate that flooding from Hurricane Matthew has caused $1.5 billion in damage to 100,000 homes, businesses and government buildings.

flooding south of downtown Lumberton
Jay Price / WUNC

Officials say the death toll in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew has risen to 17.

Earlier in the day, officials in Robeson County said they found the body of a man who was in a car when it was washed away in the flooding. All but one of the victims were in vehicles when they died, according to authorities.

James Lowry (left) waits with his family as flood waters continued to rise Sunday, October 9, 2016 around their homes along Highway 401 in Bunnlevel.
Jess Clark / WUNC

The floor of Robert White's apartment is slick with water and a film of mud. The 67-year-old makes his way cautiously over the tile to where his nephew Kareem White is standing. He points out a faint line about two feet off the ground. It travels along the walls of the apartment like a giant bathtub ring.

Durham County Jail
Laura Candler

The Durham County Sheriff's office has received more than $275,000 in federal and local funding to improve mental health services for inmates at the Durham County Detention Facility.

Palm trees sway in high gusts of wind, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, in Vero Beach, Fla. Hurricane Matthew continues to make a path for Florida's east coast from the Bahamas.
Lynne Sladky / The Associated Press

Update 2:15 p.m. Friday, 10/7/16

The eye of Hurricane Matthew is now expected to come closer to the North Carolina coast than forecasters predicted. In a press conference Friday, New Hanover County Director of Emergency Management Warren Lee warned the county's coastal residents to move inland.

Millbrook High School students pregistered to vote in their science class.
Jess Clark / WUNC

One of the lesser known provisions of the sweeping 2013 voter ID law ended voter preregistration for 16 and 17-year-olds. Now that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down those 2013 restrictions, preregistration is back, and some North Carolina high schools are taking advantage. In Wake County Schools alone, 3,000 students have already preregistered or registered in school-based registration drives.

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