Kudos to the education team at the Washington Post for reporting Philando Castile’s deep connections to the school where he worked as a cafeteria supervisor.

As you probably know, Castile was killed during a traffic stop earlier this week, at least the second highly-publicized death of a black man involving the police. What made the Castile tragedy different was his longstanding connections to the local Montessori magnet school where he worked.

The Post’s Emma Brown jumped into the fray with a widely-shared profile of the deceased man that was posted just after 6 p.m. on July 7. It began:

“Before he was fatally shot Wednesday by a police officer in Minnesota, before his name became a hashtag, Philando Castile was known as a warm and gentle presence at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, where he managed the cafeteria.”

The Washington Post wasn’t necessarily first to the story. Early accounts of the tragedy included some preliminary information about Castile’s work at JJ Hill Montessori Magnet School. The school has become a focal point for the protests and memorials that followed his death. Several outlets including the Star-Tribune & AP have followed up.

This image of a mourner whose sign reads “#PhilandoCastile fed my sons lunch. Cops fed him four bullets” taken by journalist Ana Marie Cox has been shared and liked thousands of times in the last day:

What makes the Post story notable is that sometimes education teams seem so focused on covering “school” stories they can be slow to pick up on breaking news or provide helpful context to viral stories that have an education angle. In this case, the Post moved relatively quickly, provided helpful details and context, and appropriately highlighted the role of the school in the evolving story.

As a followup, some enterprising education reporter might take the opportunity to look at the school, a public magnet Montessori in leafy St. Paul. In the meantime, here’s one more social media image from Cox’s Twitter feed:


Related posts:
NYT & Washington Post Losing Top Education Reporters
The Washington Post’s Mixed-Up Education Pages
About The Washington Post’s Campbell Brown Story…
The Washington Post’s Confusing/Unfair “Answer Sheet” Byline System
Washington Post Does A Correction Right
Just How White Is Education Journalism — & How To Encourage More #edJOC?

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.