Civil Beat Staff

Jessica Terrell

Jessica Terrell

Jessica Terrell is a reporter for Civil Beat. She covers education, with an emphasis on watchdog and computer-assisted reporting.

A newcomer to Hawaii, Jessica previously covered education for the Orange County Register in California.

Jessica wrote her first newspaper article at the age of 12 for a small paper in Massachusetts, where her family was living aboard a 50-foot raft built out of materials collected from New York City dumpsters. Her parents went on to sail that raft across the Atlantic Ocean a few years later, while Jessica jumped ship to try out life on dry land and eventually pursue a career in journalism.

As a reporter, Jessica has investigated everything from school safety concerns to faulty public works projects and military recruitment irregularities. She’s covered two national political conventions, and filed stories from the White House during President Barack Obama’s first summer in office as an intern at the Orange County Register.

Other memorable reporting assignments include camping out overnight in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park for a story on Occupy Wall Street, visiting the National Sept. 11 Memorial before it opened with members of Manhattan’s Community Board 1, and climbing 36 flights of stairs in the dark after Hurricane Sandy to find her editor and start reporting on the storm’s impact.

Jessica earned her journalism stripes in 2009 as a community reporter at the Orange County Register, where she got to live every reporter’s dream of covering Watergate — just four decades later, and through the lens of internal power struggles at the Nixon Presidential Library. Jessica left the Register to work as an associate editor for the Tribeca Trib in New York City in 2011, before the Register enticed her back to California in early 2013 to report on the county’s 28 school districts.

Her coverage of lower Manhattan for the Tribeca Trib — including the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy — garnered multiple awards from the National Press Association and New York Press Association.

Born in Mexico, Jessica spent much of her childhood traveling around North America. When her family wasn’t building rafts, they were performing together in circuses and busking on the streets as a family jazz band. Spending her early years wandering from town to town imbued her with a passion for discovery that she tries to translate into work as a journalist.

Date Set In Deedy Appeal PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Date Set In Deedy Appeal

The federal agent who fatally shot a man in a Waikiki McDonald’s in 2011 has already had two trials.

Hawaii Charter School Commission Is Under The Microscope Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaii Charter School Commission Is Under The Microscope

School leaders' complaints have the Board of Education considering a special performance review of the state's charter school authorizer.
How Can We Improve Hawaii Schools? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

How Can We Improve Hawaii Schools?

The Department of Education is seeking public input on its goals for public education in Hawaii.
Lack Of School Facilities ‘Crippling’ Many Charters Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Lack Of School Facilities ‘Crippling’ Many Charters

The challenge of finding space means classes meet in tents, at libraries -- even at a McDonald's
Nominees To Charter School Commission Named Screenshot / Hawaii Public Charter School Commission website

Nominees To Charter School Commission Named

Four out of the nine seats are up for grabs on the besieged Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission.
State Celebrates Progress in Dengue Fight, Warns Against Zika Cory Lum/Civil Beat

State Celebrates Progress in Dengue Fight, Warns Against Zika

The battle against mosquito-borne illnesses is just beginning, Hawaii's top health official warns.
Living Hawaii: The Pipe Dream Of Teaching In Paradise Goes Global Flickr.com/Todd Huffman

Living Hawaii: The Pipe Dream Of Teaching In Paradise Goes Global

Unemployed college graduates, Hawaii wants you! The islands need you! And they'll pay a lot for you! Or so the viral story goes -- and goes.
Charter Cuts High School Next Year PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Charter Cuts High School Next Year

Ka ʻUmeke Kaʻeo, a K-12 Hawaiian immersion school on the Big Island, will help students find another high school for the coming school year while it re-evaluates its program.
1 In 8 Hawaii Middle Schoolers Say They’ve Attempted Suicide Cory Lum/Civil Beat

1 In 8 Hawaii Middle Schoolers Say They’ve Attempted Suicide

Nearly one in four say they've at least considered killing themselves. Can teaching kids about mental health earlier change that?
Honolulu Rail Project Expected To Cost The DOE Millions For New Schools Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Honolulu Rail Project Expected To Cost The DOE Millions For New Schools

The Department of Education wants to levy fees on new developments to help offset school construction costs near several planned rail stations.
Oahu School Renamed For Dan Inouye drienne LaFrance/Civil Beat

Oahu School Renamed For Dan Inouye

Hale Kula Elementary School is located on the Schofield Barracks Army Installation, the home base for the late senator's combat unit during World War II.
Mosquito State Of Emergency Extended Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Mosquito State Of Emergency Extended

The two-month extension is designed to help with creating a comprehensive plan for battling future mosquito-borne illnesses.