Sylvia Maria Gross

Reporter, Producer & Co-Host of KC Currents

Sylvia Maria Gross co-hosts and produces KC Currents, an award-winning weekly news magazine that covers news and culture in Kansas City’s diverse communities. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, The World and Studio 360. Gross grew up in New York City, Brazil and the suburbs of Washington, DC. She studied English at Yale University, and then spent a year researching arts education in Brazil on a Fulbright grant. When she returned from Brazil, she taught middle school math and English while completing a master's degree in journalism at Columbia University in New York City. She reported in New York about education and culture before moving to Kansas City in 2004.

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KC Currents
11:31 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Youth Mental Health, Chiefs Windfall, Meet The Penguins

Penguins in the cold temperature section of the new exhibit at the Kansas City Zoo.
Credit Esther Honig / KCUR

Bistate Conversation About Youth Mental Health

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama called for a national conversation on mental health. Kansas City was chosen as one of ten cities to host a dialog in a program called Creating Community Solutions. On Saturday,  September 21,  two mayors and some 360 participants spent the day discussing how to improve mental health in metro Kansas City, particularly among young people. Hear voices of young people at the event.

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KC Currents
9:21 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Meet The New Penguins At The Kansas City Zoo

Three species of penguins live in the cold weather section of the exhibit.
Esther Honig KCUR

About 50 penguins are settling in to their new home at the Kansas City Zoo, as the Helzberg Penguin Plaza opens to the public October 25.

Kansas City Zoo director Randy Wisthoff says one of his first ideas when he arrived here ten years ago was opening a penguin exhibit. From his experience at the Omaha Zoo, he knew they were crowd pleasers.

"We hate to say it in the zoo world, but they are cute," Wisthoff says. "They do look like people.  And they’re fun in water and out of the water."

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KC Currents
9:52 am
Thu October 24, 2013

How Do We Improve Youth Mental Health?

Credit Flickr/canonsnapper

For many of us, our teen and young adult years can be some of the hardest years of our lives. Just as dramatic physical and hormonal changes occur, so do questions about identity, belonging, autonomy and purpose.

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KC Currents
11:01 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Raising Bilingual Kids, Maryville Rape Case, Mike Stover

A kindergarten teacher at the Kansas City Chinese School points to characters on the white board.
Credit Beth Lipoff / KCUR
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KC Currents
10:20 am
Thu October 17, 2013

7 Tips For Raising Bilingual Children

Credit Prayitno / Flickr - CC

For many generations, immigrants to the United States wanted their kids to learn English, and English only. For them, total assimilation into American culture was the key to success. But in an increasingly diverse and globalized country, being bilingual is now more often seen as an asset.

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KC Currents
11:22 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

KCPS Accreditation, Medical Apps, Lupe Gonzalez

Kindergartners at James Elementary use laptops in the classroom.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

How One Kansas City Public School Is Improving Scores And Making Change

Visit James Elementary School, in Kansas City's historic Northeast neighborhood, which has seen substantial improvement in student test scores. So much so that the school recently landed on Missouri’s list of most-improved low-income schools. 

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Education
9:12 am
Thu October 10, 2013

How One Kansas City Public School Is Improving Scores And Making Change

Fifth grade teacher Cathey Dodd helps students Britney Jimenez and Kevin Perez.
Sylvia Maria Gross KCUR

It seems like every time there’s been a glimmer of hope for the unaccredited Kansas City Public Schools, those hopes are dashed. In August, KCPS made a remarkable improvement in its report card from the state, meeting the numerical cutoff for provisional accreditation. But in September, Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro recommended that the district stay unaccredited until it shows it can sustain these improvements.

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KC Currents
7:28 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Mo. Education Commissioner Defends Accreditation Recommendation

Missouri Education Commissioner, Chris Nicastro
Credit dese.mo.gov

The hopes of Kansas City Public School officials were dashed last month when Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro recommended the district remain unaccredited.  

KCPS had been seeking provisional accreditation. Officials cited improvements in test scores and other factors. This August, the district earned 60 percent of the total possible points on its state report card (that was up from about 20 percent in a preliminary assessment last year). Fifty percent was the cutoff to be considered for provisional accreditation.

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KC Currents
11:35 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Measuring The Impact Of Food Stamp Cuts

Kansas’ new rules for food stamp recipients require them to work or participate in a job training program if they are able-bodied and have no dependents. They’re actually federal requirements that were in effect from 1997 until 2009, but were waived across the country when the recent recession hit.  

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KC Currents
4:48 pm
Thu October 3, 2013

Farm Bill Expires, SNAP Benefits, Pageant in Drag, KC Ballet Debut

Miss Gay Kansas City 2013, Heidi Banks, is crowned on stage at Hamburger Mary's in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Esther Honig / KCUR
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KC Currents
12:16 pm
Fri September 27, 2013

Answering Questions On Kan. And Mo.'s New Health Insurance Marketplaces

Credit Creative Commons

Whether or not you agree with the Affordable Care Act politically, you might be wondering what your health insurance options will be under this new law, particularly if you don't get insurance from your employer.

Jessica Hembree, program officer at the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and Sandy Praeger, Kansas insurance commissioner, join us to answer questions about the new health insurance marketplaces in Kansas and Missouri. 

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KC Currents
11:39 am
Fri September 27, 2013

21,000 Potential Kansas Voters In Limbo

Tens of thousands of people in Kansas have their voter registrations on hold. That means their votes won’t count until they get the situation resolved.

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KC Currents
9:50 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Kansas Voter Registration, Health Marketplaces, Radkey

Isaiah, foreground, and brother, Dee Radke perform at the Rendezvous in St. Joseph, Mo.
Credit Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR

21,000 Voter Registrations Stalled In Kansas

More than 20,000 people in Kansas have their voter registrations on hold, which means their vote won't count until the situation is resolved. About 80 percent of these stalled registrations happened at driver’s license offices and stem from a new law requiring people to show proof of citizenship when they register to vote. 

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KC Currents
12:29 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

A KC Chiefs’ Haven Deep In South Philly

Big Charlie's Saloon is a Chiefs bar in the middle of Eagles territory.
Credit Elana Gordon / WHYY

The Kansas City Chiefs are gearing up to play in Philadelphia tonight.  It’s an awkward homecoming for the Chiefs' new coach Andy Reid, who was with the Eagles for 14 years and was fired last December.

But there’s at least one spot, in the heart of South Philadelphia, where Reid won’t get booed when he walks into the stadium.  That’s Big Charlie’s Saloon, the home for Chiefs fans in Philadelphia.  And most of those fans aren’t Kansas City ex-pats.

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KC Currents
9:18 am
Thu September 19, 2013

Controversial Statue In OP Raises Questions About Nudity In Art

Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens has been home to a statue called Accept or Reject by Chinese sculptor Yu Chang since the fall of 2011. It's a bronze, mostly nude, headless sculpture of a woman taking a photograph of herself.

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KC Currents
12:05 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Your Guide To The Kansas City Charter Review

Kansas City is known as a “weak mayor” town. That’s no slight on Mayor Sly James, it’s the way the city charter sets up our government, where the mayor is a glorified city council member, and the city manager really runs the town. It's also called a council-manager system.

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People
5:19 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

What Makes A Neighborhood Sustainable?

A mural in St. Peter/Waterway
Credit Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

St. Peter/Waterway is one of six communities targeted by Greater Kansas City Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) in 2006 as part of their NeighborhoodsNOW program.

City planner and former Vice-Chair of the Planning Commission of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County  Daniel Serda and Micah Kubic, Senior Program Officer of Greater Kansas City LISC talk about what makes a neighborhood sustainable and how to go about developing one.

Guests:

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KC Currents
1:18 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

KC Charter Review, Sustainable Neighborhoods, Cheerleading Gym

Sisters Amber Finley and Marie Abed pose in front of this outer space themed Art Squad alleyway mural.
Credit Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Citizen Group Reviews KC Government Charter

Kansas City is known as a “weak mayor” town. That’s no slight on Mayor Sly James, it’s the way the city charter sets up our government, where the mayor is a glorified city council member, and the city manager really runs the town. Since June, citizens in the Charter Review Commission has been meeting to make recommendations to revise the charter. Two major issues are the role of the mayor and the composition of the city council.  

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Higher Education
12:01 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Coming Out And Getting Cut Off: Scholarships For LGBT Students

UMKC has recently received some national attention for having a particularly gay-friendly environment.

One of the innovative things the school is doing is offering scholarships for LGBT students. When some college students come out, they face the danger of being cut off financially from their parents.  

That's what happened to recent graduate Courtney Monzyk.  

“I was actually outed, instead of coming out,” Monzyk says. 

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KC Currents
4:53 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Coming Out In College, Forte Records, Steamboat Arabia

Photo of Marva Whitney used by permission of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections.
Credit UMKC LaBudde Special Collections
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KC Currents
11:11 am
Thu September 5, 2013

157 Years After The Steamboat Arabia Sank, Museum Of Cargo Thrives

Firearms recovered from the steamboat Arabia on display in the museum.
Credit Courtesy / Arabia Steamboat Museum

One hundred fifty-seven years ago Thursday the Arabia, a steamboat traveling the Missouri River westward from St. Louis, sank. The actual event was relatively minor, the only casualty was an mule that was tied to the deck — all 130 passengers were able to make it ashore safely.

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KC Currents
10:03 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Kansas City Retro Soul And Funk Compilation Released

Songwriter and musician, Lee Harris. Three of Harris' songs are featured on "The Forte Label."
Credit University of Missouri-Kansas City Libraries, Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde Department of Special Collections

This month, the Chicago-based Numero Group released a compilation of funk and soul songs originally put out by Kansas City record label, Forte, in the late 1960s and '70s —  Eccentric Soul: The Forte Label came out this week on vinyl and CD.

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KC Currents
12:58 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Uzazi Village, Self-Realization Fellowship, Medicine Museum

Sherry Payne, Executive Director of Uzazi Village, works to address infant and maternal health inequalities, especially in Kansas City's African-American community.
Credit Monica Sandreczki / KCUR
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Central Standard
10:19 am
Tue August 27, 2013

Suicide And The Digital Afterlife

Credit Valentin Casarsa / istockphoto - CC

Whenever a loved one dies, those left behind suffer for that loss, but when that loved one chose to take his or her own life, how do friends and family recover?  In 2009 deaths from suicide surpassed those in motor vehicle accidents. There were more than 30,000 that year.  And in a society that lives much of its life online through social media, what happens to one’s digital self after suicide? Is it acceptable to “defriend the dead,” or is social media a good way for us to cope with the loss of our loved ones?

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KC Currents
4:37 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

KCPS Achievement, Black Israelites, Kosher BBQ

Travelers waiting for a flight at KCI.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR

 

Kansas City School District Celebrates Good Evaluation

On Friday morning at Paseo Academy, Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Stephen Green made a big announcement about the district's accreditation status.  It had leaped more than 40 points in the new state assessment system. KCUR’s Maria Carter was there and talked to us about what happened.

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KC Currents
1:06 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

What Royster's Case Tells Us About Voter Fraud In Kansas City

In June, a Kansas City couple pleaded guilty to voter fraud in the 2010 Democratic primary. Even in a low-turnout primary for a state legislature seat, two votes would normally be a drop in a bucket. But in this race, John Joseph Rizzo defeated Will Royster by a margin of one vote. Rizzo went on to win the election and was re-elected to the seat in 2012. The couple voted in a district where they didn’t live and are Rizzo’s aunt and uncle, which further complicated the situation.

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KC Currents
12:38 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Mo. Voter Fraud, Operation Breakthrough, KC Creative Couples

Zhou Long and Chen Yi have taught for more than a decade at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance in Kansas City, Mo.
Credit Julie Denesha / KCUR
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KC Current
2:12 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

World Choral Fest Grows From Kansas City Roots

Singers from Canada, Ireland and Kansas City rehearsed and performed together at the World Choral Fest in Dublin.
Credit Photo courtesy of Tracy Ressigue

The very first World Choral Fest was held last month in Dublin, Ireland, and it was the brainchild of a Kansas City choir director. 

Tracy Resseguie heads the choir program at Staley High School in the North Kansas City School district. He thinks that the World Choral Fest may have been the first time that singers from several different parts of the world rehearsed and performed together in a concert like this. 

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KC Currents
1:59 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Kansas City Museum, Oz Memorabilia, KC Creative Couples

The Kansas City Museum has been the subject of controversy since Union Station management fired the museum director.
Credit Susan B. Wilson / KCUR

Union Station Issues Statement On Museum Agreement With City

It came as a shock to a lot of people when Kansas City Museum director Christopher Leitch was let go last month by the management of Union Station. The two institutions merged back in 2000, but have had a rocky relationship ever since.  And now it’s really unclear what the future will be for both institutions.  KCUR arts reporter Laura Spencer has been following the fall-out from the departure of the museum’s director.

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