This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Education has always been important to Anthony Hopkins and Ami Patel-Hopkins. So for them, becoming members of the Notebook was an easy decision.
“I went from just visiting the Notebook for getting info about education issues,” said Anthony Hopkins, a marketing and communications manager for Drexel University’s School of Education, “to taking a more involved role [by] becoming a member, realizing that my personal interests and how I feel about things is centered around educational issues in Philadelphia.”
Their membership started in 2014, but their history with the Notebook goes back a long way.
Ami Patel-Hopkins, founder of Asha Advisors, a consulting company, was introduced to the Notebook by Paul Socolar, one of the publication’s co-founders and the former publisher and executive director, while working at the Mayor’s Office of Education.
Ami, a 2004 graduate of Penn State University in psychology, said that Socolar would show up to different meetings and events with a stack of the print editions and that she’s been using it to stay up-to-date with Philadelphia education ever since.
“I feel like it is a tool that can equip people like educators and families with the facts that they need when they’re being advocates for what they feel is right,” she said
Anthony, who graduated from Temple University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting communications and mass media, worked for Fox 29 for more than nine years. He spent the last six as a producer, and during his time there, he found the Notebook to be a valuable resource.
“More often than not, when I needed to get background information to do a story related to education in Philadelphia, I found myself gravitating more and more toward the Notebook,” he said.
After she got her bachelor’s degree, Ami went on to earn her master’s in public policy from Johns Hopkins University in 2008. She worked in education for more than 10 years before starting Asha Advisors. Currently, she is focused on working with the District as a Kindergarten Transitions Fellow, where she works with families and the District to improve the process of enrolling children into kindergarten.
Aside from their professional endeavors, they are busy volunteers. Both are members of PhillyCORE Leaders, a coalition of educators. In addition, Ami is on the board of YESPhilly, a nonprofit organization committed to helping youths who dropped out of high school, and Research for Action, a nonprofit education research organization. Anthony volunteers on the committee for Drexel University’s Critical Conversations in Urban Education lecture series.
“We are products of public education,” Ami said. ”And we’ve seen the potential, and we’ve been fortunate with what we’ve received through education. [We] want to make sure others have that same opportunity.”.
When it comes to their professions and advocacy, Anthony and Ami see the Notebook as a vital aid and they also use it to educate and inform their friends about what goes on in education.
“It’s funny because now they’re the ones that have been posting articles from the Notebook on Facebook and things like that. Whereas before, we were sending them Notebook articles. But now, they are actually actively reading.”
Anthony and Ami said that they hope to see the Notebook expand its reach and coverage because they believe that when it comes to covering Philly education, no other media outlet comes close.
“There is only one place where you can go and get a comprehensive view of what is going on in our schools,” said Anthony. “And it’s the Notebook.”