Sylvia Maria Gross

Senior Producer / Reporter, Central Standard

Sylvia Maria Gross is the senior producer of Central Standard, KCUR's daily talk/magazine show. 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 came to public radio after a long stint as a middle school teacher, and has spent a lot of time trying to capture the attention of wandering minds.

Ways To Connect

The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services recently cut off hundreds – possibly thousands – of immigrant families from receiving food stamps.

The show for February 5, 2012.  Click "Listen" to hear the entire show, see below for individual stories.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Local Catholic School officials are looking for state support for Kansas City Public School students to be able to transfer to private or religious schools.

Ordering a meal at a restaurant can be a very different transaction depending on whether you're sitting at the table or standing with a notepad. A recent event at The Writer's Place turned the tables on restaurant diners and opened the microphone for waiters around town to tell stories from their perspective.

The show for January 22, 2012.  Click "Listen" to hear the entire show, see below for individual stories.

The community development corporation Blue Hills Community Services has been working to rebuild the Blue Hills neighborhood for the past 38 years.  And they've just begun construction on their latest project:  a $3 million energy-efficient renovation of a building at 50th and Prospect.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

The past few months have been rough for local jazz. Two promising newer venues, 1911 Main and Café Augusta in Lenexa, have shut down. And at Jardine's Restaurant and Jazz Club, one of the city’s most celebrated venues, a dispute between the owner and employees led to a boycott by musicians. The restaurant then closed its doors, and its future remains up in the air.

The show for January 22, 2012.  Click "Listen" to hear the entire show, see below for individual stories.

A Missouri Senate committee is holding a hearing Tuesday, January 17 on a bill that would require schools to check the immigration status of students. And it calls on police to check anyone they stop, if they have a suspicion it could be an illegal immigrant. 

Susan B. Wilson / KCUR

The show for January 15, 2012. 

Recent events in Kansas City have raised a new public furor about abuse by Catholic priests, but no one really knows how long the problem has been going on. According to the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, nearly 16,000 abuse victims have spoken out nationwide since 1950.

NCReedPlayer / Flickr

2012 is here -- much to the terror of some of the world's doomsayers.  It's the year that the ancient Mayans are said to have predicted the end of the world. Not so, say scholars of the Maya, who lived and live today in Mexico and Central America. 

Click above for the entire show.  See below for individual stories.

Debunking the End of the World

Photo by Tim Hursley, courtesy of the Kauffman Center of the Performing Arts.

2011 brought new buildings and faces, an end to some long-standing institutions, and the passing of community leaders.  KC Currents listens back to some of the voices of 2011.

Sylvia Gross

The Kansas City, Missouri school district has been shedding students over the past 40 years – from 70,000 in the 1970s to less than 17,000 today.  Some are worried about another exodus when the district officially loses accreditation on January 1st. Missouri law allows students to transfer to an accredited district, with tuition and transportation paid for by the unaccredited district. Area districts are still wrangling with transfer policies.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

With Kansas City Public Schools losing accreditation January 1, the district has set up a new policy allowing for students to transfer to accredited districts.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Kansas Citians have been wringing their hands about the future of the Kansas City Missouri School District for decades. But at a press conference with Mayor Sly James at City Hall, school board president Airick Leonard West said that's changing.

Singer Myra Taylor was one of the last living links to Kansas City's jazz heyday of the 1930s. Taylor died Friday, December 9, 2011 at the age of 94.

According to The Kansas City Star:

Taylor had been under hospice care at the Swope Ridge Geriatric Center, 5900 Swope Parkway, for more than three months, said her manager, Dawayne Gilley. Her final performance was July 24 at Jardine’s, 4536 Main St., where she performed with the Wild Women of Kansas City, a jazz vocal quartet.

    

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Kansas City Mayor Sly James and School Board President Airick Leonard West committed to a series of community conversations over the next few months about the governance of the school district. Neither has endorsed the idea of a mayoral takeover of schools, but they say no idea is off the table.

Mayor James says he began convening people to talk about the school district after Missouri education commissioner Chris Nicastro told him that it was difficult to do anything in Kansas City because it's so divided.

Onaga, KS – Last December, the only grocery store in Onaga burned down. Onaga is a town of about 700 in northeast Kansas, surrounded by cattle ranches, corn and wheat farms. But suddenly, there was no place to buy groceries for 25 miles in any direction.

People in town found their routines changed dramatically. Althea Sender, for example, is 86 years old, lives alone and doesn't drive long distances.

"You're baking - you know - or fixing something and you need something. Well, you can't just run down to the store and get it," Sender says.

Manhattan, Ks. – According to a survey done by Kansas State University, one third of all small-town stores closed just in the past three years. It's partly because rural populations are dwindling and mom and pop markets aren't able to compete with large chains.

In the 1970s, "The Story of Ferdinand" was set to solo violin by British composer Alan Ridout. The musical version will be presented next weekend at the Kansas City Public Library by the Bach Aria Soloists.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The classic children's book The Story of Ferdinand was written in the 1930s by Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson. You might recognize its red cover and delicate black and white drawings.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A proposal to eliminate the Kansas City Missouri school board won't be on the agenda at tomorrow's board meeting. But the state education commissioner has asked board members to replace themselves with a state appointed board, or risk a takeover in January.

For the past 14 years, the Mattie Rhodes gallery on the Westside has commemorated the Day of the Dead by asking local artists and community members to make altars in memory of ancestors and loved ones who've passed away. But this year, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is collaborating with the Mattie Rhodes Center, as well as the Guadalupe Center and the Mexican Consulate, to create a large community altar in the museum's central Kirkwood Hall.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A new audit of the Kansas City Missouri school district shows a significant improvement in the district's operations and finances. The audit was requested in 2009 and looked at the district's expenditures and operations until June, 2010.

KANSAS CITY, MO – Kansas City, Missouri, councilman Jermaine Reed proposed Thursday to rename a 10-mile stretch of Prospect Avenue after Martin Luther King Jr. Reed suggested the idea at a news conference at 26th and Prospect, near the site of a double homicide on Wednesday.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Missouri school district received one more disappointing blow this week, when the state board of education stripped it of its accreditation. And that was just weeks after Superintendent John Covington resigned unexpectedly to take a job in Michigan.

That leaves families in the district wondering what kind of trajectory Kansas City's schools are really on.

Leading Up to the Loss

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas City Missouri schools will lose their provisional accreditation on January 1, after a vote this afternoon by the state Board of Education. In a recent review, the district met only three of 14 accreditation standards. District officials said they plan to move ahead with the transformation plan laid out by the previous superintendent.

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