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Meet NHPR’s Sarah Gibson, the award winning reporter

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR’s newsroom in 2018. She worked first as the southern New Hampshire reporter, and later transitioned into her current role covering education, politics, and demographics.

Sarah came to NHPR from New York City, where she attended graduate school and worked briefly as a producer at the local NPR station, WNYC. Sarah was drawn to NHPR for its opportunities to report full-time.

Since coming to NHPR Sarah has published a multitude of stories that have aired locally, as well as on NPR, Here and Now, and the New England News Collaborative. Her most recent work delves into what happened when townspeople in Croydon, NH, voted to cut its school district budget in half, and how a group of unlikely allies joined forces to stage an epic do-over. Sarah’s coverage was featured on NPR’s This American Life. I Work Better on Deadline highlights stories of people racing against time to solve huge problems, and there you can check out Sarah’s featured story, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Quorum. The story explored questions of democracy, small town politics, and public education that resonated with listeners across the country.

Do you think that this story of Croydon is indicative of where we are, or where we’re heading as a country today? 

Croydon, like any place, is full of nuance and contradiction. So, even though it’s a tiny town of less than 1000 people, it feels so illustrative of a lot of the USA, where people's politics don’t cleanly align with a political party, and where alliances can be fractured or united over different institutions.

There was some polarization in Croydon over this budget cut, but there were also unexpected alliances that emerged. I’ve heard from a lot of listeners who found this inspiring. One thing that caught people's attention was the story of the two sisters who spent a really long time talking to another resident, Nick, who was hesitant to show up at the town hall for the re-vote. They kept talking to him long after the recording stopped, and he eventually showed up. People still orient their lives and politics around relationships, so if it's possible to have relationships be the basis for making decisions about our community, I think for many people, that’s a hopeful message, and a reason for optimism.

You’ve been covering the education beat for a while now, can you touch upon any other stories that you’ve done that you feel are particularly resonant?

Pretty early in my time at NHPR, with the help of Cori Princell, a former editor at NHPR, we did a series called Adequate: How A State Decides The Value of Public Education. It’s one of my more ambitious projects (Edward R Murrow award winner in 2020). It dives into the struggle and debate over education funding in NH, not only into the legislative debate, which is constant, but what that was like on the ground for individual school districts and families.

In some ways the Croydon piece was a great way to tell one part of that funding conundrum, but it touches on so many issues I’ve reported on and am fascinated by. And honestly, there’s still so much more to say and report on, in terms of how we measure and value public education and what its future could look like. I believe the story in Croydon got so much attention because it touches on questions that are of concern to people across the state and really, around the country.

To see more from Sarah, and keep up with her latest stories click HERE.

*Additional production support for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Quorum by Jack Rodolico and Justine Paradis, with editing by Katie Colaneri of our Document team and the leadership of our news director Dan Barrick.

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