More than 160 supporters of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook gathered Nov. 15 at WHYY event space to honor outgoing editor and publisher Paul Socolar, who will step down in early 2016.
The event, titled “Brunch with Paul,” also celebrated the Notebook’s 21 years of independent, nonprofit journalism and advocacy on behalf of quality and equity in Philadelphia public schools. The celebration raised more than $62,000 for the newly established Paul Socolar Investigative Reporting Fund, which will support future in-depth, watchdog reporting by the Notebook.
Attendees enjoyed an opening reception, brunch by Brown’s Kitchen, and a program of speakers, who gave their perspectives on the Notebook’s impact and their personal stories of Socolar’s deep commitment to local journalism and social change.
Speakers included Diane Castelbuono, deputy chief of the District’s Office of Early Childhood Education; City Councilwoman-elect Helen Gym, also a Notebook co-founder; Harold Jordan, chair of the Notebook’s board of directors and a senior policy advocate at the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania; Kevin McCorry, senior education writer for WHYY/NewsWorks; Dale Mezzacappa, Notebook contributing editor; and Pedro Ramos, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation. The foundation’s $10,000 challenge gift helped launch the fund.
Philadelphia Inquirer education reporter Kristen Graham emceed the program, and Socolar was the keynote speaker. He spoke about the significance of establishing the Notebook as a community-based publication that holds school officials accountable and provides a channel for grassroots voices. He pointed to progress in Philadelphia in achieving greater transparency and access to information about the school system, as well as in addressing problems like dropouts and high suspension and arrest rates, issues that the Notebook has highlighted.
Thanks to our fund founders and brunch hosts
Fund founders (as of Nov. 23)
- Philadelphia Foundation
- Jolley Foundation
- Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
- Jolley Bruce Christman
- Judy Buchanan & Jim Parker
- Mary Goldman
- Helen Gym & Bret Flaherty
- Doug Holtzman & Jennifer Smith
- Bill & Diane Marimow
- Len Rieser & Fernando Chang-Muy
- Judy Adamson & Fred Jackes
- Andrew Christman & Agnieszka Stachowicz
- Michael Churchill
- Cred Dobson & Jennifer Hawkins
- Joseph Dworetzky
- Steve & Barbara Gold
- Charlotte Hall
- Katey McGrath & Steven Haslam
- Mara Natkins & Jerry Fagliano
- Rochelle Nichols-Solomon & James Solomon
- Encarna Rodriguez & John Lavin
- Kate Shaw
- Sally A. Simmons & Charles A. Thrall
- Elaine Simon & David Crawford
- Sid & Sandy Socolar
- Betsey & Mike Useem
- Betsy & David Wice
All photos by Harvey Finkle