Not many people are fortunate enough to be with a company at its humble beginnings and watch it grow.

But I have been.

I started as Word In Black’s education data reporter on March 17, 2021. It was my 26th birthday. I was the first — and only — staff member. The commitment was just 20 hours per week. We didn’t even have a website.

Now, nearly three years later, my role is full-time and I am part of a team of 10 covering topics from health to finance to climate justice. We have profiles on every social media account you can think of. We publish newsletters six days a week. We’ve sourced op-eds from people like Rev. Al Sharpton, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Donna Brazile.

It hasn’t been easy, and there’s still a lot of room to grow. But I’m really proud of all we’ve accomplished. 

It’s not just Word In Black that’s grown over the last three-ish years. This position — in large part because of the people I’ve interviewed and worked with — has taught me so much about what makes a story successful, education in the United States, and myself. 

And I’ve been able to have some of my favorite conversations I’ve ever had as a journalist, and forge relationships with people around the country working in various jobs that impact K-12. 

I’ve been able to speak with Sharif El-Mekki about a variety of topics, from the invisible tax on Black teachers to why teachers need mentors. I talked to three Black Teachers of the Year about what keeps them in the classroom, and four new teachers about why they joined it. Dr. Fedrick Ingram has talked to me about four-day school weeks and needing better access to arts education.

The decision to leave Word In Black wasn’t easy. The team is working on so many exciting projects, and the company has exciting things along the way, and it will be hard to stop helping and be on the outside looking in. But I’m looking forward to watching everything come to fruition, supporting the important journalism, and cheering everyone on. 

If you’ve read my work, spoken to me for a story, or offered feedback along the way: Thank you. This has been a pleasure and an honor. 

I hope you keep reading Word In Black and supporting this team, because I know I will. 

Thank you,

Maya Pottiger

Maya Pottiger is a data journalist for Word in Black. She was previously a data journalist for the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland, where she earned both her BA and Master of Journalism. Her work has been featured...